To Know as I Am Known: The Communion of the Saints and the Ontology of Love [PDF, E-Book]

To Know as I Am Known: The Communion of the Saints and the Ontology of Love

by Mark McLeod-Harrison (George Fox University, USA)

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"McLeod-Harrison has given us a wonderful book, diving into deep waters. These reflections on the nature and possibility of Christian love and the communion of saints are rich, powerful, and insightful. And they are much needed in our individualistic age, where many have lost sight of the importance of the common good. The account he gives of the connections between love, morality, self-interest, and human fulfillment is of special interest."

Dr. Michael W. Austin, Eastern Kentucky University

“In his new book, Mark McLeod-Harrison helps us to make sense of the doctrine of the communion of saints, which has been surprisingly neglected by contemporary philosophers and theologians. Along the way, we find intriguing discussions of sin, love, humility, and self-interest, among many other topics. Highly recommended!”

Dr. Christian B. Miller,
A. C. Reid Professor of Philosophy, Wake Forest University

“Who are we and where are we going? What kind of people are we now, and what kind of people will we become? The Christian hope for humanity emphasizes our potentiality for enduring goodness in communion with God and others, but how is this possible? McLeod-Harrison brings conceptual tools and recent debates from analytic philosophy to bear on these questions, providing an ontological framework for understanding how we might one day become united with God and one another in love. Along the way, he explores the nature of personal identity and character, self-interest and love, free choice and social constitution, fallenness and the image of God, all with reference to Christian teachings Eastern and Western.” “The book is wide ranging and original in combining the insights of analytic philosophers and Christian theologians to address questions of enduring interest. I would predict that it will be of interest mainly to Christian philosophers interested in developing a coherent picture of heaven, but also to some Christian theologians who are interested in analytic philosophy.”
Scott A. Davison
Morehead State University

The doctrine of the communion of the saints is central in the spiritual lives and theology of millions of Christians. However, it has been neglected by much recent philosophical scholarship. ‘To know as I am known’ addresses this oversight by offering a contemporary analysis of this venerated doctrine. By taking two related puzzles inherent in the doctrine itself, McLeod-Harrison explores and reflects on not only the communion of the saints but also on the ontology of love.
Divided into five parts, this book provides an account of human nature and sin, before suggesting a way of thinking of love that is rooted both in the doctrine of the Trinity and in the thought of several contemporary analytic thinkers along with Dostoyevsky, Eckerd, Royce. While the integral issues of the doctrine are related to the “why-be-moral” problem, McLeod-Harrison shows that the challenges of the doctrine arise from the unique nature of agape (divine love). Thus, the communion of the saints comes through the challenges intact with a plausible interpretation of saintly motivation and human solidarity.
Born out of 20 years of thought, this essential and sophisticated reflection serves as an important contribution to the field of the philosophy of religion that will inspire and engage students, scholars, and Christians, alike.



Part I Introduction
Chapter 1 The Doctrine
Chapter 2 Biblical Roots
Chapter 3 Challenges

Part II Metaphysical Reflections on Sinning and Sainthood
Chapter 4 Constitutive Properties I
Chapter 5 Constitutive Properties II
Chapter 6 The Constitution of the Human Person I
Chapter 7 The Constitution of the Human Person II

Part III Love, Altruism, and Self-Interest
Chapter 8 Morality, Altruism, and Love
Chapter 9 Altruism and Self-Interest
Chapter 10 The Nature of Love

Part IV Building Blocks
Chapter 11 Personal Fission, Self-Interest, and Altruism
Chapter 12 On Living Two Lives as One
Chapter 13 Solving Royce’s Problems

Part V A Theory of the Ontology of Love
Chapter 14 Transparency and the Ontology of Love
Chapter 15 Christian Ontological Humility
Chapter 16 Images and the Image of God
Chapter 17 Concluding Remarks

Appendix: Some Minor Challenges 

Works Cited


Mark S. McLeod-Harrison PhD is Professor of Philosophy at George Fox University. He is the author of Rationality and Belief in God; Make/Believing the World(s): Toward a Christian Ontological Pluralism; Repairing Eden; Apologizing for God; The Resurrection of Immortality; and Image, Incarnation, and Expansivism; along with a book of poetry, and dozens of journal articles. He has been thinking about the doctrine of the communion of the saints for 20 years. This book flows out of those 20 years of thought. He is the husband of Susan McLeod-Harrison and father of three children, one of whom is grown and married. He is now engaged in writing philosophically about the Christian doctrine of sin in light of evolution and the so-called “species problem.”

Love, agape, saints, sin, communion, Dostoyevsky, Royce, human nature, analytic theology, transparency, will, heaven, altruism, self-interest, image of God

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

To Know as I Am Known: The Communion of the Saints and the Ontology of Love





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Publication date

February 2019