Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 96

RESPONSE TO CRITICS - Webb head and heart are joined and deepened. We are relational because and not in spite of the fact that we are material. Now, what is matter that God created it, enjoyed and loved it, shaped it in many forms, and planned from the beginning to become one of the material things of this world? This is the question that originally motivated my investigation of Mormon metaphysics. More than any other Christian tradition, Mormonism challenges traditional views of matter. The time is ripe to take those challenges seriously. Hylomorphism is the philosophical view that every physical object is composed of form and matter, with matter being the passive and indeterminate substratum that becomes something individual due to the active principle of its form. For a variety of reasons, hylomorphism is central to the theological position known as classical theism. If hylomorphism is fundamentally and fatally flawed, then theologians will need to consider new theories of matter as well as new models of God. That does not mean that Mormonism is right about matter. Nor does it necessarily mean that Mormonism constitutes the true restoration of the gospel. But it does mean that theologians should look closely at Mormon views of matter and be open to learning how Mormonism reshapes many aspects of classical theism on the basis of a new theory of matter. In my next book, I will lay out in much greater detail why I believe that hylomorphism is fundamentally and fatally flawed, and thus I am grateful for this opportunity to respond here to some criticisms of what I have already written on this subject. There is much passion, some of it bordering on hysteria, about hylomorphism’s demise, since both critics and defenders recognize its fundamental role in providing the metaphysical framework for many of the assumptions, arguments, and aspirations of classical theism. Indeed, the passion for hylomorphism has increased in intensity in proportion to the deluge of criticisms against it—a sure sign that this metaphysical beast, if it is dying, is not going to give up its ghostly character without a fight. And prime matter is the ghost that haunts classical theism, or it would haunt traditional theology if it could be anything more than pure potency, for it has not even enough reality to be a spooky presence in the form-dominated world of Platonism. Prime matter is the physical stripped of any of its disruptive or creat ive power (just as classical theism’s God is the personal stripped of any of the signs of materiality). Such denuding, of course, can go only so far without ending up in nothing, which is exactly where Aquinas and company wanted to let matter end. That matter will not stay nowhere in place is the reason why modern philosophy typically cannot stomach the Thomistic worldview. 95