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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 52, Issue 4, December 2012

Stephen R. Palmquist
Pages 421-437

Could Kant’s Jesus Be God?

Although Kant had a high regard for Jesus as a moral teacher, interpreters typically assume that his philosophy disallows belief in Jesus as God. Those who regard Kant as a moral reductionist are especially likely to offer a negative construal of the densely-argued subsection of his 1793 Religion that relates directly to this issue. The recent “affirmative” trend in Kant-scholarship provides the basis for an alternative reading. First, theologians must regard Jesus as human so that belief in Jesus can empower believers to become good. Second, theologians may refer to Jesus as divine by identifying his disposition as exemplifying the “archetype of perfect humanity.” Third, Judeo-Christian history poses an empirical problem that theologians can solve by interpreting Jesus’s divinity according to the schematism of analogy. While this does not constitute a robust (identifiably Christian) doctrine of Jesus’s divinity, it does provide clear guidelines for formulating such a tenet of historical faith.

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