Outline Torrance Trinitarian Faith

Chapter 1
1.  Christ is himself the content of God’s self-revelation

    1. We know the Father through his Son.
    2. Christ’s vicarious humanity
      1. he did not come in a man but as man.
      2. Christ ministers the things of God to man and the things of man to God.
  1. The Nicene Ordo
    1. The triune God’s activity
      1. Godward relations: From the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.
      2. manward relations: in the Spirit, through the Son and to the Father (Torrance 5).
  2. Nicene Creed is Kerygmatic
    1. Passed on by faith
    2. Radical shift in the pious’s understanding.
      1. Moved from in-turned human reason (epinoia) to a centre in god’s revealing activity in the incarnation of the Logos (19).
      2. view of faith: not subjectively grounded, but objectively grounded persuasion of mind, supported by the hypostasis of God’s being.   Hilary: in faith a person takes his stand on the ground of God’s own being (De Trin. 1.18).
    3. scientific knowledge: episteme–standing or establishment of the mind upon objective reality.
      1. It is through faith that our minds are put in touch with a reality independent of themselves.
      2. It is through faith our minds assent to the inherent intelligibility of things, yield to their self-evidencing power and are adapted to know them in their own nature (kata phusin).
    4. Faith is not non-cognitive.
      1. it involves the mind’s responsible assent to the self-revelation of God in Christ.
      2. it arises under the creative impact of God’s word (21).
      3. it is listening obedience (upakoe tes pisteos).

Conclusion: we must learn from God himself what we are to think of him (Hilary, De Trin. 5.20).

  1.  Rejection of Dualism: Irenaeus rejected the Philonic aisthetos cosmos/noetos cosmos distnction, preventing the faith from being relativised.

Chapter 2: Access to the Father

  1. Father/Son relation
    1. We approach God as Father through the Son (49).
      1. If we begin, rather, with concepts like “Unoriginate” then we will have a vague concept of God and we know nothing about who he really is.
      2. If we cannot say anything positive about God, then we really can’t say anything negative about him.
      3. Leaving us, therefore, with no point in God by reference to which we can control our assumptions (51).
    2. Scientific knowledge, again
      1. In accordance with the nature of the reality being investigated (kata phusin).
      2. Therefore, we can speak truly about God.
      3. Since there is no likeness between God’s being and the created being, God can only be known from himself.
    3. God’s Communication
      1. In the Incarnation God does not tell us some fact about himself, but he gives us his very self.
      2. By Jesus’s coming to us as man, his humanity reveals the very nature of God (56).
    4. Knowing and Being
      1. Matt. 11:27
      2. The father and the son have a mutual relation of knowing.  Only the Son can know the Father and reveal him.
      3. Therefore, a mutual relation of knowing entails a mutual relation of being.  This gives us direct access to the closed circle of divine knowing.
      4. Our knowledge of God is rooted in the eternal being of God himself (59).
    5. More on epistemology
      1. The doctrine of the Son comes first because he is Logos.  Our knowledge of God is already pre-Worded.
      2. The humanity of Christ is the arche of all of God’s works.
        1. It is a vicarious humanity: the controlling principle by which all of our knowledge of God is tested.
        2. Our knowledge of God must conform to Christ because he is the Eidos of the Godhead.
  2. Contrast with Judaism
    1. Epistemology: we may know God the father in a more positive way.
    2. We have a conceptual grasp on God’s internal relations.
  3. Contrast with hellenism
    1. Priority of Vision
      1. Hellenism gives a conceptual priority of sight.
      2. Modes of seeing: idea, eidos, theoria
      3. Knowledge = vision taking place conceptually through a beam of light directed from eye to object.
    2. The Obedience of Hearing
      1. (hupoke tes akoues)
      2. Are the terms “Father” and “Son” meant to be visual images?   Hellenism said yes.  Hebraism said no.
      3. Images:
        1. For Hellenism images were mimetically related to what they signify.
        2. Hebraism: proper images used in speech and thought refer to God without imaging him.
    3. Activity of God
      1. Word and activity are intrinsic to the very being of God (enousios logos and enousios energia).
      2. The Greek doctrine of Logos was coopted by the Hebrew notion of The Word of the Lord (Debar Yahweh).
      3. The Logos is not an abstract cosmological  principle.
        1. The Logos inheres in the very being of God.
        2. The inner being of God is always an eloquent, speaking being.
      4. Energia refers now to the providential activity of God.
        1. rejected is the Aristotelian energia akinesias.
        2. God is never without his activity.  Being is dynamic.  And so is creaturely being.  Doctrine of motion.  
        3. God’s act is always act-in-his-being.  

The Almighty Creator

    1. Priority of Fatherhood: our knowledge of God as creator is taken from our knowledge of God as Father.
      1. Source and Fount: God is the ultimate source only as he is Father of the Son.
        1. If God is without offspring, then he is without works, for the Son is the offspring through whome he works.
        2. The triune God is the arche: mia theotes kai mia arche
      2. It is as Father that God is the fount (pege) of all being.
        1. Our concept of God must be controlled through the revelation of God as pater of the Son.
        2. The Son’s becoming man links the created arche with the uncreated arche.
        3. Thus, a two-fold, vicarious humanity.
    2. God was not always creator.
      1. Distinction between nature (phusei) of God and the will (Boulesei) of God.
        1. Son is by nature.
        2. Creation by will.
        3. Phusei and Boulesei can’t be identical, otherwise we risk linking the generation of the Son with the creation of the world.
      2. Athanasius: the nature of things that came into existence have no likeness in being to their maker, but are external to him and depend on him for existence.
      3. For God to create is secondary and for him to beget is primary.
        1. God was always Father but not always maker.
        2. In God’s self-communication to us in the Incarnation there is something new to the eternal being of God.  God is free to do what he has never done before.
    3. God does not will for himself to exist alone
      1. Creation out of nothing, part one.
        1. What is the relation of God to the universe?  It is neither a necessary relation nor an accidental relation.
        2. the universe was created by the eternal Word, so it is an intelligible product of the Divine Mind.
      2. The Universe is a temporal analogue
    4. Ex Nihilo
      1. The real starting point of creation ex nihilo was the Resurrection of Christ, for it demonstrated God’s power over death and non-being.
      2. Distinction between Word and Will
    5. Contingence of Creation
      1. creation is suspended and unstable (reustos).
      2. It is sustained by the divine Logos.

 

  • sumbebekos: creaturely events are neither necessary nor random.

 

      1. Thus, they are contingent.
    1. Contingence Proper
      1. creation has a measure of genuine, if limited independence.
      2. However, the independence itself is dependent on God.
      3. Nature has a limited autonomy: “bring forth fruit after its own kind.”
    2. Intelligibility of Creation
      1. Rejecting dualisms of intelligible and sensible realms.
      2. Single rational order pervades the universe.
  1. Relational Conception of Time and space
    1. it relates to God one way in his transcendent nature and to creatures another way.
    2. Within the universe are spatial-temporal structures which are open to the creative and ordering activity of God.
    3. This broke free from the deterministic universe of Greece.
      1. the laws of nature depend on the voice of God.
  2. Freedom of creation
    1. physics of light: created light is a created reflection of the uncreated light of God.
    2. It is contingently related to God’s constancy and invariance.

God of God, Light of Light

  1. Homoousios safeguards God’s Revelation
    1. If Christ were not homoousios toi patri, then he could not reveal God to us.
      1. There is no interval of time, being, or knowledge in the Godhead.
      2. The Father/Son relationship falls within the one being of God (Torrance 119).
    2. Light
      1. Light is never without its radiance.
      2. The Son is proper to the being of the Father.
  2. Homoousios
    1. Always implies another.
      1. Begotten from within the being of the Father.
      2. Implies internal distinctions and internal relations.
    2. Hermeutical Significance
      1. Inner structure of the gospel.
      2. Kerygma of truth = canon of scripture.
      3. The words of Scripture point to realities beyond themselves.
    3. Hermeneutical Instrument
      1. What God is toward us and in the midst of us is what God really is in himself (130).
      2. “ousia” now means more than simply “being.”  It means “being” in its inward reference.  hupastasis means being in its outward reference (or at least it did for Athanasius).
      3. The Being of God is never static.  The doctrine of enousios energeia means that being is dynamic.

Chapter 5: The Incarnate Savior

    1. Divine philanthropia
      1. The mediation of Christ involved a twofold movement: man to God::God to man
      2. Only God can save, but he saves as man.
    2. The Incarnation
      1. Kenosis was not a dimunition of God’s being but tapeinosis, impoverishment and abasement (153).
      2. The notions of servant and priest are tied together in Christ.
    3. The Atonement
      1. The atonement falls within the being and life of God.  It does not take place outside of Christ, but in him.
      2. The traditional biblical language of atonement is connected with Christ’s ontological solidarity.
      3. Deification (166)
        1. redemption and knowledge/illumination were closely connected in Patristic thought.
        2. Redemption is tied to the whole of Christ’s life
      4. Athanasius’s vicarious terms are not merely external to the being of Christ.
        1. They reveal a coherent pattern governed by an underlying unity in the person of Christ.

The Eternal Spirit

    1. Lexicography of Spirit

 

  • ruach carries a connotation that pneuma normally didn’t:  active, concrete presence/force.

 

    1. The spirit of God is not some emission of divine force but the confrontation of human beings and their affairs with his own divine self (192).
  1. Perceiving the Spirit
    1. Spirit is the specific nature of God’s eternal being.
    2. Christ is the only Eidos of the Godhead but Spirit is the Eidos of the Son.
      1. The Spirit himself is imageless.
      2. Epiphanius: we must use our ears rather than our eyes, for we know the Spirit only through his Word.
  2. Function
    1. The Holy Spirit no less than the Son is the self-giving of God (201).
    2. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit is derived from God.
      1. God himself is the content of his self-revelation.
      2. “doctrine developed naturally and properly out of the inner structure of knowledge of the one God grounded in his self-revelation and self-communication as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (202).
      3. Yet, knowledge of the spirit is taken and controlled by our knowledge of the Son’s homoousios, for it is only through this prism is the knowledge of God mediated to us.
  3. Interpretive Account
    1. God is Spirit and the Holy Spirit is God
      1. The Arians equated the limits of their understanding with the limits of reality (207).
      2. However, the Holy Spirit controls the categories for understanding.  He stands for the “unconditionality and irreversibility of the Lordship of God in his revelation” (Barth, CD I/1, 468ff).
    2. Spirit and Homoousion
      1. When the Holy Spirit is given to us, God is in us, and if the homoousion holds true, then Christ is in us.  “It is not merely by his power or operation, but God himself is present to us in his being.
      2. Didymus rebuts Basil’s distinction between the energies/operations of God and the immediate activity of his being…for it would damage a proper understanding of the real presence of God to us in his Spirit” (Torrance 210).
      3. The Spirit is spirit both in his ousia and his hypostasis.
        1. The Spirit reveals both the hypostases of Father and Son, but he is not directly known to us in his hypostasis.
        2. He remains veiled as he unveils the other two (Didymus, De Trin. 3.36)
        3. “He is the invisible light in whose shining we see the uncreated light of God manifest in Jesus Christ, and is known himself only in that he lights up the face of God in Jesus Christ” (Torrance 212).
  4. The Holy Spirit is distinctively personal reality along with and inseparable from the Father and the Son.
    1. Basil drew a sharp distinction between the one ousia of God and the three hypostases.
      1. He drew prosopon and onoma into the range of meaning expressed by hypostasis.
    2. Epiphanius had a more Hebraic slant.
      1. He preferred to see the persons as enhypostatic rather than as modes of existence.
      2. He applied homoousion beyond simply relating to each person, but also to the inner relations as well (Torrance 222).
    3. Personalism
      1. We are personalized persons, persona personata.
      2. God alone is properly and intrinsically Person.
  5. The Procession of the Spirit
    1. Whatever else we may say about the procession of the Spirit, we must ground our knowledge of the Spirit in our knowledge of the Son (231).
    2. Thesis 1: The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, and belonging to the Son is from him given to the disciples and all who believe on him (Torrance 231).
      1. The Spirit proceeds from the father and receives from him and gives (kai ek tou autou lambanei); the Spirit receives from the Son (ek tou Hiou lambanei).
      2. If the Son is of (ek) the Father and proper to his being (idios tes ousias autou), the Spirit who is said to be of (ek) God must also be proper to the Son in respect of his being (idion einai kat’ ousian tou Hiou).
    3. Double movement of thought
      1. What the Holy Spirit is towards us, he is in himself AND what he is in himself he is towards us.
      2. the Holy Spirit belongs to the constitutive internal relations of God.
    4. The Cappadocians
      1. In order to rebut the charge that their differentiation between the three hypostases implied three divine principles, they shifted the weight of the term “Cause” onto the Father.
      2. This had a damaging effect of seeing the Deity of the Father as wholly uncaused but the deity of the Son/Spirit as eternally derived or caused.
      3. Further, they cast the internal relations between the three Persons into a consecutive structure or causal chain of dependence, instead of conceiving them (like Athanasius) in terms of their coinherent and undivided wholeness (Torrance 238).  Gregory of Nazianzus was probably closest to Athanasius in that he could speak (if somewhat inconsistently) of the deity as Monarchia.
        1. Nazianzus saw the terms arche and aitia as more likely referring to relations or schezeis subsisting in God beyond all time, origin, and cause.
    5. Beginning the Filioque Problematic
      1. Athanasius had taught that the Spirit is ever in the hands of the Father who sends and of the Son who gives him as his very own.  This is where Trinitarian reflection should have stayed.
      2. Torrance: “The Cappadocian attempt to redefine ousia as a generic concept, with the loss of its concrete sense of being as internal relations, meant that it would be difficult if not impossible for theology to move from the self-revelation of God in his evangelical acts to what he is inherent in himself.  If God’s Word and act are not inherent (enousia) in his being or ousia, as Athanasius insisted, then we cannot relate what God is toward us in his saving relation and activity to what he is in himself” (246).
        1. Cappadocian impasse:

The Triunity of God

  1. Athanasius
    1. God is eternally triune in himself.
    2. The true knowledge of God is knowledge of Him as he is Father and Son in his own being.
      1. The fullness of the Father’s godhead is the being of the Son (Contr. Ari. 3.5).
      2. homoousion carried within it the idea of coinherent relations within the one being of God.
        1. not a mere linking of properties but complete indwelling.
    3. There is a hierarchy of our knowing God but not a hierarchy in the being of God.
      1. We take our knowledge of the Father from the Son and our knowledge of the Spirit from the Son.
    4. Terminology
      1. ousia: lays stress on intrinsic constitution
      2. hypostasis: a reality ad alios, God as manifest.
      3. Monarchia:
        1. The Father is the arche of the Son.
        2. As the Son has the Godhead, he, too, is an arche.  But he is not an arche subsisting in himself.
        3. His view of the complete identity, equality, and unity of the Persons was so strong that he declined to advance a few of the Monarchy with respect to the person of the Father.
        4. He rather prefered to speak of God as Monas rather than Arche.
  2. Basil, The Gregories, and Didymus
    1. Basil: ousia should be treated as an abstract generic term.  This modified the early Athanasian approach.  Ousia was now equated with phusis as the common nature of the three persons.
    2. This is connected with Basil’s sharp distinction between God’s essence and God’s energies.  This also means we can only differentiate the persons by their peculiar characteristics.
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About Ephraim's Arrow

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism
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2 Responses to Outline Torrance Trinitarian Faith

  1. Cal says:

    Two Questions:

    1) Is Torrance’s nature/will distinction somewhat comparable to the essence/works distinction? I don’t think we’d say the Incarnation is a ‘work’ of God, and thus we can’t say the ‘atonement’ is either. So, is this a way to reintegrate possibly?

    2) Does Torrance really defend the ‘filioque’? Or merely trying to emphasize that the Spirit always comes through the Son (at any cost necessary)?

    Like

    • JB Aitken says:

      I don’t think the nature/will distinction is the same as the essence/energies. Creation, for example, is an effect or result of God’s will. But no one will say that creation is an energy of God.

      At the end of the day Torrance holds to something like the Filioque. His point was that the Cappadocians created a situation that made this issue inevitable.

      Like

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