Torrance: Theology in Reconstruction

Torrance advances the argument that theological knowledge and its communication must make use of the thought-currents and speech in the world. He makes the claim that Homoousion as the basic logical economy which governs theological grammar in accordance with the pattern of God’s own self-communication in the Incarnation (Torrance 31-35).

He explains that the Reformation made both breaks and advances in the structures of thought. God so objectifies himself “for us in the incarnation that far from negating he rather posits and fulfills our subjectivity in Christ” (70). Indeed, this claim ties in with election. We do not know God through acting upon him but through being acted upon by him. Reformed theology operates with a view of truth that upholds both sides of the knowledge relationship, the side of “the object over against the human knower, and also the human subject in the form of his knowledge.” Since the Truth is the eternal moving into time, reason must move along with it in order to know it. This means it has to break with older habits of knowing. We see similar parallel in physics: Einstein needed a conception of space and time which didn’t depend on the notion of absolute rest. Torrance: “We have to move across a logical gap between knowledge and knowledge we have yet to acquire, which cannot be inferred logically from what we already know, but which is so rational that it entails a logical reconstruction of what we already know” (73).

His most interesting chapter is the Knowledge of God according to Calvin. Thesis: JC worked through the transition from the medieval mode of thinking in theology to the modern mode. We know God through his speaking to us in his Word (Word, being Logos, inheres in the divine being). There is a compulsion of Veritas on our minds. Knowledge of God, like all true knowledge, is determined by the nature of what is known (86).
*arises out of our obedience.
*evidence: evidence of ultimate reality, which means it is self-evident.

Our intuitive knowledge is in and through God’s Word. It is reached by hearing, not seeing. The Word of God we hear in Scripture reposes in the divine Being. That is the objective ground in our knowledge of God.

His final chapter, “A New Reformation?” summarizes the scope of the book and offers one more conclusion: The Reformation applied the homoousion to the acts of God. Jesus as homoousion is reality of God. He is the divine provided Form and Eidos. The early fathers stressed homoousion as the Being of God in his acts. The Reformation stressed homoousion as the Acts of God in his being. When God gives himself to us in Him, it is no less than God who is at work. Homoousion snaps the medieval doctrine of grace. for grace is none other than Christ–God gives himself to us. This led to a more robust doctrine of the Spirit.

There are two basic Torrancian introductions to his corpus: this work and Mediation of Christ. They cover the same ground, except this work is a bit more advanced.

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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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