According to philosopher Jay Richards, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute, the essential tenets of classical theism on the doctrine of God can be stated simply. First, God exists. Second, He created the world – meaning, everything other than God – in such a way that the world owes its existence and individual features to him. Thirdly, God created the world freely – that is, nothing external or internal to God compelled him to create this or any other world. Theists also believe that God is maximally perfect His qualities like knowledge, power, goodness, love, freedom, existence, holiness, and justice. As the great medieval theologian Anselm said, “God is that than which none greater can be conceived.” Finally, Christian theists also profess that God exists as three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit while still being one God.
Richards explains that many questions have been raised regarding the coherence of these beliefs taken as a whole. Some have seen fit to abandon classical theism. Others, acknowledging tensions in the traditional concept of God, have sought to resolve them by means of making significant concession.
Mindful of these issues, Jay Richards uses the tools of analytic philosophy to explore and critically engage the tenets of classical theism. His own carefully crafted proposal upholds the historic Christian doctrine of God while critiquing some of its more stringent formulations that render God’s relations with contingent creation problematic. Astutely interfacing with the thought of Karl Barth and Charles Hartshorne, Richards concludes by addressing the related and currently debated matters of divine simplicity and immutability.