Kierkegaard and the Changelessness of God: A Modern Defense of Classical Immutability, By Craig A. Hefner

Kierkegaard and the Changelessness of God

A Modern Defense of Classical Immutability

New Explorations in Theology

by Craig A. Hefner
Foreword by Daniel J. Treier

Kierkegaard and the Changelessness of God
  • Length: 232 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: August 22, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0544
  • ISBN: 9781514005446

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Danish theologian and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was not afraid to express his opinions. Living amid what he perceived to be a culturally lukewarm Christianity, he was often critical of his contemporary church.

But that does not mean Kierkegaard rejected traditional Christian theology. Indeed, at a time when many of his contemporaries were questioning the classical doctrine of God, Kierkegaard swam against the stream by maintaining orthodox Christian beliefs.

In this volume in IVP Academic's New Explorations in Theology series, Craig A. Hefner explores Kierkegaard's reading of Scripture and his theology to argue not only that the great Dane was a modern defender of the doctrine of divine immutability (or God's changelessness) in response to the disintegration of the self, but that his theology can be a surprising resource today.

Even as the church continues to be beset by "shifting shadows" (James 1:17), Kierkegaard can remind us of the good and perfect gifts that come from an unchanging God.

"Craig Hefner shows a mastery of Kierkegaard's writings and Kierkegaardian scholarship. To this literature, he brings a biblically informed speculative engagement with one of the most important debates of our time, namely the debate over divine immutability. Addressing Barthians and Thomists, Hefner argues that Kierkegaard offers a way of engaging God's immutability without relying on either metaphysical or antimetaphysical logic. At stake is the possibility of reintegrating the fragmented self and grounding the meaningfulness of history. This is an important book!"

Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary

"Rarely, in contemporary discourse, is the immutability of God wielded for spiritual insights, but this is precisely what Hefner discovers in the work of Søren Kierkegaard. Mining the depths of Kierkegaard's thought to retrieve his existentially profound insights, Hefner shows how Kierkegaard's understanding of immutability serves as the ground for the integration of the human self. Far from an abstract notion, immutability serves as the guiding light breaking through the present darkness of our despair. A significant and profound study, I highly recommend it!"

Kyle Strobel, associate professor of spiritual theology at Talbot School of Theology

"For centuries, Western philosophy and theology took it as axiomatic that God is immutable. 'It is evident,' Thomas Aquinas wrote in the Summa Theologiae, 'that it is impossible for God to be in any way changeable.' Yet in modernity, this long-held belief has come under attack for various reasons. Is it unthinkable, then, for a modern person to adhere to the doctrine of divine immutability? In this important and thought-provoking study, Craig A. Hefner draws on one of the most essential modern thinkers—Søren Kierkegaard—to make a case for God's changelessness. In doing so, Hefner shows that Christian theology can successfully retrieve classical teaching and yet speak to modern concerns."

Christopher B. Barnett, professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University

"Readers commonly engage Kierkegaard as a provocateur against all those who are smug and comfortable in their Christianity (and he doesn't disappoint!), but Hefner surprises us with a robust engagement with Kierkegaard the theologian. Here we encounter the Great Dane as an unexpected conversation partner in current theological discussions about God's immutability. Metaphysical accounts are often pitted against antimetaphysical ones in recent debates, but Hefner retrieves Kierkegaard to show another way forward: a biblical and theological case for a classical definition of God's immutability but without metaphysics. This is retrieval theology at its best!"

Kent Eilers, professor of theology at Huntington University and coauthor of Theology as Retrieval: Receiving the Past, Renewing the Church

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Daniel J. Treier

1. Retrieving Kierkegaard
2. The Disintegrated Self
3. The Reintegrated Self
4. Returning Again to James 1:17
5. Immutability Without Metaphysics



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Craig A. Hefner

Craig A. Hefner (PhD, Wheaton College Graduate School) is the Head of School at Covenant School in Huntington, WV. His work has appeared in publications such as the International Journal of Systematic Theology and the Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America.