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Faith and Philosophy

Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2021

Jordan Wessling
Pages 113-134

On St. Isaac the Syrian’s Argument Against Divine Retribution

Many theists maintain that God punishes humans retributively, whereby God intentionally harms those punished as their sins deserve, without also aiming qua punishment to contribute to the immediate or ultimate flourishing of those punished, or to the flourishing of some third (human) party. By contrast, St. Isaac the Syrian in effect contends that such an understanding of divine retribution is incompatible with a plausible understanding of God’s initial creative purposes of love and is thus untrue. In this paper, I present and sub­stantially build upon Isaac’s contention, and I defend the resulting developed argument as a good argument worthy of further consideration.

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