In Divine Personality and Human Life, his second series of Gifford Lectures, Webb examines the notion established in God and Personality, namely that a ‘Personal God’ is one with whom worshippers may enjoy a personal intercourse in relation to the various spheres of activity in which human personality manifests itself.
Lectures II–IV cover Divine Personality insofar as it affects economic, scientific and aesthetic life, respectively. The economic life, Webb admits, seems to have something of an antagonistic relation towards the religious, yet economic activity constitutes a significant proportion of all human conduct. The more religious a man is, the less he is economic. The scientific life is not so antagonistic to the religious, although in it, personality is of little account. Though the thought of Divine Personality appears to be of little relevance to the scientific viewpoint, it is in fact enriching and illuminating of it, providing a proper account of the experience of awe and wonder that can be had in relation to the world as viewed by science. In the aesthetic life, we again find an antagonism, in that the view of God held by many artists characterises him as opposed to their rights of self-expression. Yet Webb’s account of the Divine Personality welcomes the protest of the artist and, in its equal acknowledgement of immanence and transcendence, frees him from self-imposed limitations and allows the artist a full expression of beauty and a reflection of religious experience.
Lectures V–VII address how notions of the moral, political and religious spheres are illuminated by the Divine Personality. A conception of God as moral legislator and judge of the world has repelled some and prompted others to denounce atheism as the promotion of immorality. Nevertheless, Webb suggests that his conception of Divine Personality provides the most intelligible examination of the fact of obligation, which he cites Kant as endorsing. Divine Personality in religious experience sheds light upon the consciousness of obligation as the fundamental moral experience.
In discussing the relation between political activity in the human spirit and his conception of Divine Personality, Webb examines the notion of corporate personality, the sense in which personality is often attributed to communities and institutions. Corporate personality in this sense is not personality in its full and proper sense, yet the attribution of personality to God has been thought of in this way, certainly in light of the doctrine of the Trinity. Instead of suggesting a denial of personality to God, Webb suggests that in light of his conception of Divine Personality as conscious personal intercourse between God and Spirits, the fullest reality of spiritual existence is evidently a personal unity.
Webb then examines how Divine Personality and the religious experience that gives ground to the notion relates to the religious life of human spirits. Religious life is not simply defined by his conception of Divine Personality, as there are religious lives in which the experience of personal intercourse with God is denied. Further, Webb finds Rashdall criticising claims that ‘immediate’ knowledge of God from religious experience can ever be had. Rashdall is criticised on some of his distinctions between the ‘immediate’ and the ‘inferential’, and Webb suggests that there is no inconsistency in holding that experience of both social intercourse and personal religion is inexplicable if immediacy is denied, together with a recognition of the role played by inference in knowledge of God. He ends by considering the limitations of an analogy between a person’s relation to his or her fellow human beings and the supposed personal relation of worshipper to God, while also considering objections to the effect that it may be premature, even granting that the experience of personal religion is the highest that is yet known, to claim that there may not be further development beyond personal religion.
In Lectures VIII and IX, Webb considers the value of personality and individual persons, and the implications of Naturalism and Absolute Idealism in relation to such. In Naturalism, the value of personality is depreciated because, according to Webb, it must view personality as natural science must regard it, merely as a mode of behaviour of certain individual objects. Yet without persons, no natural science could exist, for in the apprehension of objects the activity of subjects is presupposed. Certain facts with which we are confronted suggest a principle of unity operative in persons which we simply cannot identify with the sort of unity found in a bodily organism. Absolute Idealism likewise depreciates the value of personality, since while it can accept that the personal form of individuality is higher than some, it requires that the perfect form is not personal. Further, Absolute Idealism renders personality as merely adjectival, similar to what Naturalism does. Webb suggests that we need a recognition of the genuine unity of each personal subject as a substantial element in the system of reality, which these views cannot provide.
From these considerations, he is led in his final lecture to consider the destiny of the individual person. He takes the two main sources of the doctrine of personal life after death to be the philosophy of Plato and the religion of Israel after the exile. In both instances, the doctrine was radically new insofar as it was not an adaptation of or evolution from earlier beliefs. Webb accepts that it is impossible to give plausible grounds for any such doctrine apart from personal religious experience. This, of course, is to the point, as for Webb, assurance of immortality from any other source would lack the religious value of faith in the love revealed in religious experience of Divine Personality.