The belief that God can “concede” to common worldviews and practices for a time in order to make a point or advance his perfect will one step at a time.

For example: (although I don’t necessarily believe this) in the details of the creation narrative, God could have conceded to the common worldview about creation in describing the firmament and the days of creation in order to make the larger point that he is the ultimate creator.

Another example in practice is God’s tolerance of slavery in the Old Testament in order to advance his perfect plan slowly.

We all believe at least in a small form of concessionism in that we allow for phenomenological language (ie “the sun stood still” in Joshua).

We even practice this today quite a bit. An example may be when we draw an angel with wings as I did in my cover photo on this blog or we all do at Christmas time. We don’t really believe all angels have wings, but since this is the cultural way to identify angels, we concede in order to draw attention to something more important.

(I have been teaching about concessionism for so long I just took it for granted as being a technical term in theology. However, I recently did a search to see where I first heard of this and for the life of me cannot find this technical term. However, it is still valuable for my purpose and I will continue to use it until I find something better.)

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    6 replies to "Concessionism"

    • Andrew Miller

      I can see how God may remain truly sovereign even in the midst of conceding. For example, the atonement is the ultimate demonstration of God’s “conceding” for our spiritual status under his Law. Or another example, in the Book of Acts, God “concedes” by yielding his Spirit to the early church and subsequently the modern church.

      God may only “give in” from our anthropomorphic perspective, but in-fact in his perfect will he has foreordained such events for the maximum potential for those who will be saved. Similar to what you said Michael, the Old and New Testaments clearly use phenomenological language concerning miracles, divine intervention, and nature. All in all, we may be merely using anthropomorphic terms to make sense of our transcendent and personal Sovereign God who knows all things by his own power.

    • Bryan Patrick

      Does this not illustrate as well God’s perfect humility? Thus, and example for us to consider in our own lives?

      • C Michael Patton

        That is really good thought Brian. Kind of like a Philippians chapter 2 type concession? I really like it. You should develop it more.

    • Glenn Shrom

      Did St. Paul concede for a time that there really was an unknown God on Mars Hill? … and concede that some Greek poets had written prophetically? I think the academic term you are looking for is accommodation.

    • Pete

      This is a brilliant observation. You’re really transcending the bulk of theistic contradictions that are unnecessarily held on to by fundamentalists.

      I hope Christians finds utility in this perspective. I’ve come to realize that the old familiar religion is a far better influence on people than the deconstructive social contagions that are running rampant now.

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