NNU’s Timpe Explores Free Will in Recent Book

Jay Akkerman

Dr. Jay Akkerman, Director, GTOE

Teaching comes first at Northwest Nazarene University’s School of Theology & Christian Ministries. No doubt about it. But alongside our commitment to teaching is faculty dedication to scholarship, as evidenced by the fact NNU’s professors are among the most published in the Wesleyan-Holiness movement.

My colleague Kevin Timpe is an excellent example of the kind of committed scholars who teach in NNU’s fully online Graduate Theological Online Education (GTOE) programs.

Just last week I wrote a blog about Virtues and Their Vices, a collection of essays edited by Dr. Timpe and our former NNU colleague, Dr. Craig Boyd. The book is being published by

Oxford University Press and has just been released in the UK, and will be available in the U.S. by the end of April.

This week I want to share with you another important work by Dr. Timpe: Free Will in Philosophical Theology, which was published last November. In this book, Dr. Timpe takes recent philosophical work on free will and uses it to explore a variety of theological doctrines involving this issue.

“I think the book goes a long way toward trying to give a unified account of what free will is and how our moral character shapes how we exercise it,” Dr. Timpe says.

Dr. Kevin Timpe

Dr. Kevin Timpe

Dr. Timpe decided to tackle the subject of free will because it was one of the first issues that got him “hooked” on philosophy and interested in pursuing it as a vocation.

He began work on the book in fall 2010 during a yearlong research fellowship at Oxford University. His project that year became the bulk of the book.

“The first theological issue I turn to is the first sin, often called the primal sin,” he explains. “I don’t so much care who committed it, though historically the Christian tradition says that it was the devil. What I’m more interested in is how an agent who is created good, with no flaws, could choose to sin. Did the sin originate in the agent’s will? In his intellect? How can we make sense of such a choice?”

Another question he explores is in regard to heaven.

“Presumably, we’ll still be free in heaven. But while we can freely sin in this life, Christianity also holds that the redeemed in heaven aren’t able to sin any more. So how can it be that a free creature is no longer capable of sinning? And if this kind of state is possible, why didn’t God create us in it in the first place?”

He also investigates the freedom of those in hell, how free will and grace interact, as well as a chapter dedicated to how we should understand God’s freedom.

Dr. Timpe says he hopes the book helps to show how rigorous philosophical analysis and theological reflection can come together.

“Too often, academics in different disciplines—even disciplines as closely related as philosophy and theology—don’t interact across perceived disciplinary borders,” he says.

By pursuing your fully online Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degree at NNU, you can learn from committed scholars like Dr. Timpe. If that interests you, we’d love to connect with you by having you request more information.

For more on Dr. Timpe, check out this video of him presenting a lecture on Virtue and Transformation.


Virtue and Transformation - Kevin Timpe, Ph.D.

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