Monday, January 25, 2010

Two Gods: An Historical Overview

My friend and theologian, Dr. Baxter Kruger, recently published a post entitled, "Two Gods," http://baxterkruger.blogspot.com, Jan 22, 2010. My post for today is intended to contribute to that ongoing conversation. In order to make the post understandable for non-theologians, I will be using general rather than technical terms (so this is one you can share with your spouse without appearing too weird!)

As Baxter notes, Paul Young's book, The Shack, is spreading like wildfire around the world, selling multiple millions of copies. Thank you, Jesus! This book strikes a chord in the human heart as it unveils a winsome portrait of the Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - the God revealed in Jesus to be, by nature, a God of self-emptying love who pours himself out in sacrificial self-giving for the cosmos he has created.

Paul Young's portrait of God is far different from the ugly monstrosity that historically has been passed off as God in much western theology. In harmony with Baxter's post, I want to offer a general historical overview of how the western church lost the portrait of the loving Father painted by Jesus and replaced it with a monstrous distortion of the face of God painted in the opaque colours of pagan philosophy.

In the fourth century, as a result of heretical attacks on the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Fathers were compelled to inquire into the eternal, intradivine nature of God. Prior to this time, theologians such as Irenaeus, as well as the community of faith at large, were generally content to develop their thinking about God solely in terms of God's historical, redemptive self-revelation in the history of Israel, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the sending of the Holy Spirit. Yet, heretical attempts to reduce Jesus Christ to a created intermediary between God and the world forced the Fathers to think about the eternal nature of God rather than restricting their inquiry to God's historical self-revelation in Jesus and the Spirit. Consequently, and no doubt unintentionally, theologians began to focus on the nature of God apart from God's self-revelation in the historical Jesus.

The formulation of a doctrine of God apart from God's historical self-revelation in Jesus was particularly evident in the trinitarianism of Augustine, who, for better or worse (mostly worse in my opinion), is considered by Roman Catholics, as well as many Anglicans and Protestants, to be the "father" of western Christianity. Augustine turned away from God's three-fold self-revelation in time and space to develop an analogy of the Trinity based on the processes of the human mind. This is Augustine's famous "psychological analogy" of the Trinity.

What drove Augustine to turn away from Jesus, the incarnate Son, to develop his trinitarianism based on the human mind? First, because he spoke Latin, not Greek, he was not thoroughly versed in the trinitarian thought of his predecessors, the Greek Fathers, particularly Athanasius and the Cappadocians, wherein the Triune Persons-in-relationship constitute the being of God. Secondly, he was thoroughly enamoured by Neo-Platonism, a form of pagan thought wherein the world is regarded as passing and relatively unimportant - even evil (in contrast to the biblical view, "and God saw that it was good."). The Neo-Platonists regarded the human mind as that place wherein a "spark" of divinity is imprisoned in the (evil) human body. Thus, because he regarded matter - including the human body - as inherently evil, it would be difficult, if not repugnant, for Augustine to develop his trinitarianism on the incarnation, that is, the "em-body-ment" of God in Jesus Christ. Given his pagan assumptions, including a disregard for the body and the elevation of the mind as the repository of divinity, it seems quite natural for Augustine to develop his trinitarianism based on a psychological analogy of human cognitive processes.

The overwhelming problem in Augustine's trinitarianism, however, is that in turning inward to the human mind to develop his trinitarian thought he turned away from God's redemptive self-revelation in Jesus! In turning away from God's self-disclosure in time and space (i.e., the incarnation), Augustine focused attention on the eternal nature ("substance") of God considered apart from God's triune self-revelation in redemptive history as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (I cannot over-emphasize the importance of that statement). In very non-technical terms, as the hidden, impersonal substance of God gained importance, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were lost like bits of bad potato in a cosmic vichyssoise!

In the expansive wake of Augustine, western medieval theologians focused more and more on the eternal nature of God considered apart from God's historic self-revelation. They begin to think of the nature or "substance" of God as the "real" God. The "substance" (being, nature) of God became the all-important "fourth-something" underlying the Triune persons. As Baxter often says, the "deepest truth" about God was thought to lie hidden in the unrevealed, hence, mysterious, impersonal substance of God. Are you getting the picture? It ain't pretty!

Commensurate with the resurgence of Aristotelian (pagan) thought in the western medieval church, Thomas Aquinas (another "doctor" of the Roman Catholic Church), built on the Augustinian emphasis on the unrevealed substance (nature) of God. Aquinas formally split the western doctrine of God into two treatises. This had never been done before, even though we are now more than one thousand years into the history of the church! First, Aquinas developed a major treatise entitled, "On the One God." In this treatise, he built on Augustine's emphasis on the hidden substance of God by painting a portrait of God based on human reason and the observation of nature. His thinking is based on the assumption that a cause (God) can be known by its effects (the varied phenomena of the universe). (As an aside, Karl Barth, and later T.F. Torrance, blew out of the water the assumptions underlying this method. We'll have more on that in future posts). Aquinas followed Aristotle and Greek philosophy in general to draw a number of conclusions about God. His thinking ran something like this: The world is changeable and passing away; therefore, God, who is perfect, must be unchangeable (immutable). The world is full of suffering; therefore, God, being perfect, must not suffer; that is, God is impassible (what does that do to the passion of Christ?). Human beings have power and wisdom; therefore, God being perfect, has all power (omnipotence) and all wisdom (omniscience). The world is finite; therefore, God, being perfect must be not-finite (infinite), etc. Aquinas bequeathed the western church the infinite, impassible, omnipotent, omniscient God of western Christianity, aka, the omniGod. The essential point is that in developing a doctrine of God derived from human reason and the observation of the cosmos, Jesus was once again left out of the picture!!!

After he develops a major treatise on the one God, Aquinas developed a second, relatively minor treatise entitled, "On the Trinity." The problem is, as Colin Gunton has observed, by the time Aquinas finally got around to the Trinity, it appeared that everything worth saying about God had already been said in the first treatise ("On the One God"). The Trinity was reduced to a relatively minor appendix to a thoroughly developed doctrine of the One God. As a result, in post-Thomist medieval Scholasticism ("How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?), the Trinity was hardly studied at all! In terms of everyday piety, Jesus was so far removed from the doctrine of God that the ordinary believer had no choice but to venerate the saints. After all, with Jesus out of the picture, who else can you pray to!

In dividing the doctrine of God as he did, Aquinas left the western church with two versions of God: one based on natural theology and human reason (the One God) and another based on revealed theology and faith (the Triune God). All the hype has gone to the One God and the Trinity has been reduced to an interesting but confusing distraction in the western doctrine of God.

In bequeathing the western church with two versions of God, the Augustinian-Thomist tradition has created a deep dualism (split, divide, disjunction) in the heart of western Christianity. Faith is pitted against reason, creation is separated from redemption, and the Father is separated from Jesus! This sad state of affairs has produced the "theological schizophrenia" (Torrance) that has plagued and terrorized the western mind in regard to God.

Unfortunately, this sad state of affairs was not corrected in the Reformation. Because the Reformers were occupied with the important issues of "justification by faith" and "ecclesiastical authority," the Augustinian-Thomist distortion of the character of God passed right into Protestantism, as evidenced by Charles Hodge, who wrote a 2,300 page systematic theology and devoted only four pages to the doctrine of the Trinity. Moreover, as T.F. Torrance has noted, this "un-Christian" (his word) doctrine of God was enshrined in the Westminster Confession of Faith, otherwise known as the constitution of Calvinism. No wonder most Calvinists are so grim!

With a few notable exceptions (e.g., John McCleod Campbell, George MacDonald), such was the sad state of affairs in the western doctrine of God until, in the twentieth century, the great Karl Barth roared, "Nein!" The echo of his mighty shout is growing ever louder throughout the western church thanks to theologians like Torrance, Gunton, Jenson, Kruger, Rahner, LaCugna, and many others and to popular writers like Paul Young. Slowly but steadily, the western church is throwing off the bonds of its Augustinian captivity and learning to live in the joyous freedom of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the God who pours himself out in self-giving love for all humanity. Amen.

For a much more detailed account of the above, complete with many references, simply go back through my old posts, beginning with the earliest. I intend to present a more formal, academic paper on the above when I get around to it. You know how that goes!

Friday, January 15, 2010

T.F. Torrance and the Relationship Between Epistemology and Ontology

This is the third in a three-part post on T. F. Torrance's "Scientific Methodology and the Knowledge of God." For parts one and two, see below. Warning: This post is pure unapologetic academic theology. You will need to light up a pipe to appreciate this one!

Because knowledge of the reality under consideration must be developed in accordance with the nature of that reality (see part 1), to know God in strict accordance with his nature establishes the proper relationship between epistemology and ontology. Torrance uses a "common sense" philosophy to suggest that knowledge arises through insight shaped by the internal structure of the reality under study. This insight develops from a "structural kinship" that arises between the knower and that which is known as we cognitively "indwell" the object of inquiry and gain access to its meaning through an "intuitive anticipation of a hitherto unknown pattern." Torrance is not referring to a priori concepts imposed upon the object or to a Platonic form of recollection; rather, Torrance understands the human mind to have a "tacit power" to bridge logical gaps in knowledge and discern Gestalten (coherent patterns) through creative leaps of the imagination from the parts to the whole (Torrance, 1984:113, 114; Hardy, 1997:258).

In regard to the knowledge of God, the "primary task" in epistemology is "to focus our attention on the area where God is actually known, and seek to understand that knowledge in its concrete happening, out of its own proper ground, and in its own proper reference to objective reality." In theological inquiry, we are concerned with the knowledge of the living God; we are engaged with a Reality that cannot be construed in terms of what is already known to us. Therefore, we must be prepared to conform our knowledge to what God reveals of himself, and therefore be open to what is genuinely new (Torrance, 1969:25, 26).

Thus, for Torrance, there is a close relationship between ontology (i.e., the 'nature' of the object of inquiry) and epistemology; that is, there is a close relationship between the 'substance' to be understood and the means of understanding it, so that epistemology must always accord with ontology. Knowledge is possible because the nature of the reality under study prescribes the "mode of rationality" by which it may be known. That is, a "correspondence between reality and thought" is possible to the extent that the knower conforms to the "mode of rationality" inherent in the object of inquiry (Grenz, 2004:204).

Given this understanding, theology is not only an objective science but also "the positive science in which we think only in accordance with the nature given." That is, in theological inquiry, "we must allow the divine realties to declare themselves to us, and so allow the basic forms of theological truth to come to view and impose themselves on our understanding" (Torrance, 1996:9).

In describing theology as a "positive" science, Torrance rejects the "progressive ignorance" associated with the negative or "apophatic" approach to knowledge of God developed by Basileides of Alexander (who argued that we cannot say what God is, only what he is not). Following Gregory Nazianzus (329-389), Torrance sees the apophatic approach as self-contradictory in that we must have some positive knowledge of God in order to say what God is not. Torrance adopts a "kataleptic" approach which refers to the compelling claims of reality to which the human mind must assent. If we are to learn anything new, we must allow our minds to fall under "the compulsive self-evidence of its objective reality and its intrinsic intelligibility." Therefore, throughout the process of theological inquiry, we must operate with an "open" epistemology or "epistemological reserve," wherein "we allow the way of our knowing to be clarified and modified pari passu [at equal rate]" as we advance toward deeper and fuller knowledge of the object under study. Consequently, our way of knowing cannot be determined in advance but only as we look back from what has been established as knowledge (Torrance, 1969:10; 1988:159, 160; cf. 1989:108, 109).

"Christian theology," argues Torrance, "arises out of the actual knowledge of God given in and with concrete happening in space and time. It is knowledge of the God who actively meets us and gives Himself to be known in Jesus Christ ‒ in Israel, in history, on earth." It is essentially 'positive' knowledge, mediated in concrete experience with a content that can be articulated. Furthermore, it is concerned with empirical fact ‒ the fact of God's historical self-revelation in time and space. "We do not therefore begin with ourselves or our questions, nor indeed can we choose where to begin; we can only begin with the facts prescribed for us by the actuality of the object positively known. Anything else would be unreal and unscientific, as well as untheological." Thus, theological thinking is "theo-logical" in that it does not arise from a centre within ourselves but from a centre in God. It is essentially "theo-nomous" thinking that revolves around the fact that God has made himself known and continues to do so; that is, God "objectifies" himself for us so that "our knowledge is a fulfilled meeting with objective reality" (Torrance, 1969:25-29).

In theology, we encounter an objective Word, or Logos, from beyond our experience, which speaks for itself and guides us to an ever deepening understanding of its objective reality. This Word is encountered as a word to be heard and an objective truth to be acknowledged, not merely a rationality to be interpreted. This means that theological thinking is more like 'listening' than any other kind of knowledge. Yet, if we fail to listen to the objective self-interpretation of the Reality given, we, like Schleiermacher, are thrown back on ourselves in an attempt to authenticate the objective reality of God "by putting our own words into his mouth and by clothing him with our own ideas." As Torrance observes, "That kind of God is only a dumb idol which we have fashioned in our own image and into whose mouth we have projected our own soliloquies, and which we are unable to distinguish from our own processed interpretation. In other words, we have no genuine knowledge of God at all, for we are left along with our own thoughts and self-deceptions." This "theology" is, in actuality, nothing more than 'anthropology', for its rests upon a "basic falsification," that is, an ultimate failure to distinguish objective reality from the subjective state of our own consciousness, or to distinguish "what is not ourselves from ourselves" (Torrance, 1969:30-32).

As Torrance (1969:32) argues, apart from the objective reality of God's Word to us, we cannot distinguish the objective reality of God from our subjective experience. "In a true theology God's Word is the condition and source of real knowledge, for it is in and through his speaking that I am not cast back upon my own resources to establish his existence or to devise a symbolism in order to make it meaningful." It is in and through his Word that God distinguishes himself from the subjective experience of our own consciousness so that "he is not left to the mercy of our questions and answers, but we ourselves are questioned by a Word from beyond which draws us out of ourselves and declares to us what we are utterly incapable of learning and declaring to ourselves."

Torrance rejects the development of epistemologies in abstraction from actual knowledge developed by inquiry into the nature of the object of study. A truly scientific method of inquiry will develop epistemological structures according to the requirements imposed by the nature object, uncompromised by a priori assumptions of any kind (Torrance, 1970:128). Genuine scientific theological inquiry is distrustful of all speculative thought and a priori reasoning. Theological thinking is a 'positive' form of thinking [in contrast to apophatic or "negative" approaches], grounded in the actual reality of its subject of inquiry; it is an a posteriori form of thinking in that it follows and is obedient to the objective Word and Act of God that is given to it as the material for its reflection; in addition, it is an 'empirical' form of thinking in that it is based on real experience of God determined by God. Theological thinking has its "reality" in the objective 'given-ness' of God; thus, all theological thinking must be tested in reference to the "concrete reality" of the object under study (Torrance, 1969:33).

Therefore, in order to probe into the "ontic basis" or "the inner basic forms" of its object of inquiry, scientific theology will employ no abstract criteria in the testing and establishing of its knowledge and will posit no epistemology in abstraction from the material content of its knowledge of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. That is, a scientific theology will allow a correct epistemology to emerge and a proper theological method to develop in the process of coming to understand its object of inquiry, all the while constructing its dogmatics in utter obedience to its object. Hence, epistemologies will properly arise toward the end, rather than the beginning, of scientific inquiry, as our understanding gradually conforms to the nature of the object under study. As Torrance observes, "[I]t is only at the end of the work of dogmatics, therefore, that it will be possible to offer a proper account of an adequate epistemology" (Torrance, 1990:71, 72, 146; cf. 1970:127, 128), for ontology and epistemology should unfold together (Colyer, 2001a:323).

In sum, a truly rational approach to scientific inquiry, whether in the natural sciences or in theological science, will never seek to impose a preconceived conceptual pattern on the material it seeks to understand; rather, it will humbly inquire of a given field of reality, question it, and then allow it questions to be questioned. Thus, in Torrance's scientific theology, 'knowing' follows 'being' (operari sequitur esse); that is, epistemology follows ontology (Kelly, 2007:76; cf. Hardy, 1997:257).

References

Colyer, E.M. 2001. How to Read T.F. Torrance: Understanding His Trinitarian & Scientific Theology. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. 393pp.

Grenz, S.J. 2004. Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress. 289pp.

Hardy, D.W. 1997. The Integration of Faith with Scientific Thought: Thomas F. Torrance. In D. Ford, ed. The Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian Theology in the Twentieth Century. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 257-261.

Kelly, D.F. 2007. The Realist Epistemology of Thomas F. Torrance. In G. Dawson, ed. An Introduction to Torrance Theology: Discovering the Incarnate Saviour. London: T & T Clark. Ch. 4.

Torrance, T.F. 1969. Theological Science. Oxford: OUP. 368pp.

Torrance, T. F. 1984. Transformation & Convergence in the Frame of Knowledge: Explorations in the Interrelations of Scientific and Theological Enterprise. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 353pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1988. Realism and Openness in Scientific Inquiry. Zygon, vol 23, no 2.p 159-169.

Torrance, T.F. 1989. The Christian Frame of Mind: Reason, Order, and Openness in Theology and Natural Science. Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard Publishers. 164pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1996. (orig. ed. 1965). Theology in Reconstruction. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers. 288pp.

T.F. Torrance: Faith and Prayer in Scientific Theology

This is the second of a three-part post on Torrance's "Scientific Methodology and the Knowledge of God." For part 1 in this series, see below.

As stated in part 1 above, scientific inquiry is conditioned by the 'nature' of the object under investigation. In the natural sciences, the object of investigation is, to varying degrees, subject to experimental control. God, however, is not an object to be controlled and manipulated; he is not subject to man's command and cannot be put to the test or brought under controlled scrutiny. Thus, in regard to theological science, the method of inquiry must be appropriate to the nature of God who addresses us in his Word. Whereas the natural scientist employs controlled observation and experimental verification in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, the theological scientist must cast himself upon the grace of God, allowing God to determine the form his knowledge will take, as well as the kind of verification appropriate to the divine nature. Since real knowledge of God can be developed only to the extent that God sovereignly and freely gives himself to be known, the appropriate attitude for theological science is one of 'prayer', so that we may humbly listen to what God tells us of himself and understand it under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. "It is because the object of theological knowledge confronts us always as subject, and indeed as absolute subject as the Lord God, that prayer is the scientifically correct mode of inquiry, for it is the mode of inquiry that corresponds to God's nature as man's creator and redeemer" (Torrance, 1969a:38; 1990:67).

Throughout his long career as a respected academic theologian, Torrance remained a deeply devotional man of faith. In his introduction to Theological Science (1969a:v), he wrote:

If I may be allowed to speak personally for a moment, I find the presence and being of God bearing upon my experience and thought so powerfully that I cannot but be convinced of His overwhelming reality and rationality. To doubt the existence of God would be an act of sheer irrationality, for it would mean that my reason had become unhinged from its bond with real being. Yet in knowing God I am deeply aware that my relation to him has been damaged, that disorder has resulted in my mind, and that it is I who obstruct knowledge of God by getting in between Him and myself as it were. But I am also aware that His presence presses unrelentingly upon me through the disorder of my mind, for He will not let Himself be thwarted by it, challenging and repairing it, and requiring of me on my part to yield my thoughts to His healing and controlling revelation.

Despite his intellectual rigor, Torrance insisted that accurate knowledge of God cannot be developed in a detached, merely academic way. To know God intimately requires that we enter into a personal and saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Hence, revelation and reconciliation are inseparable in Torrance's theology, for we cannot know God in a detached, impersonal manner without regard for his purpose for our lives (Torrance, 1988a:3; 1996b:132). For Torrance, theology is one aspect of the church's response to grace in obedience and worship; thus, theology can never be more than a refinement and extension of the knowledge of God as it arises in the liturgy and doxology of the community of faith and in the believer's living personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Throughout his work, Torrance intertwines theology and worship, so that the theology of T. F. Torrance is not only rigorously scientific and intellectually challenging but devotional and evangelical as well (Colyer, 2001a:25, 28).

As a deeply devotional theologian, Torrance argues that human epistemological process, in both the natural sciences and theological science, is dependent on a fundamental stance that he calls "faith." "[F]aith is the very mode of rationality adopted by the reason in its fidelity to what it seeks to understand, and as such faith constitutes the most basic form of knowledge upon which all subsequent rational inquiry proceeds." More simply, faith is "the orientation of the reason toward God's self-revelation, the rational response of man to the Word of God." Hence, faith is crucial to scientific inquiry because it allows the epistemological process to unfold (Torrance, 1969a:33; 1984:194; Grenz, 2004:204, 205).

In regard to theological knowledge, our human way of knowing undergoes a radical change, or "epistemological inversion," wherein God is "Lord of our knowing" (Torrance, 1969a:132; 1994:47, 48). That is, we can only know God in accordance with his gracious self-revelation and, thus, only in a mode of prayerful worship and devotion as we humbly and obediently respond to the God's divine initiative in making himself known. According to Torrance (1994:48):

Here the modality of our reason undergoes radical adaptation in accordance with the compelling claims of God's transcendent nature ‒ that is precisely what authentic theology involves. This is very important because it calls for a real [and often painful] change . . . in our approach to God . . . in which the self-centred structure of our minds is turned inside out and transformed. Apart from such a metanoia or deep-seated change in mind and heart, you cannot really be a theological student, far less a minister of the gospel.

Because God is the absolute subject who freely chooses to give himself to be known and determines the method by which he will be known, faith is an essential part of the "epistemological inversion" required in scientific theological thinking. According to Torrance (1969a:132):

Faith entails the opening up of our subjectivity to the Subjectivity of God . . . Faith is the relation of our minds to the Object who through his unconditional claims upon us establishes the centre of our knowing in Himself and not in us, so that the whole epistemological relation is turned around ‒ we know in that we are known by Him. His Objectivity encounters our objectivity and our objectivity is subordinated to His and grounded in His.

Thus, the appropriate procedure for theological science (and all other science) is one in which the mind of the knower conforms to the nature of the object of inquiry. In scientific theology, human reason allows itself to be guided by the nature of God in his revelation and adopts a mode of rationality that corresponds with God's "objectifying" of himself for humankind. Here then, for Torrance, is the 'epistemological' meaning of faith: faith is not an irrational leap; rather, it is "a sober commitment to the nature of the given reality, a determination of the reason in accordance with the nature of the object as it becomes disclosed, an orientation of the mind demanded of it in encounter with its unique and incomparable object that is and remains subject, the Lord God." In short, faith means that, to the self-giving of God, there corresponds in the human knower a receiving and appropriation of the truth in such a way that the rationale and necessity of faith lies not in itself but in the object of faith. Theological knowledge, therefore, is not a rational explication of the nature of faith; rather, it is, 'in faith', an explication of the independent reality known. "Theological activity does not proceed in the light of the theologian's faith, but in the light of what comes from the side of that in which he has faith, the self-authenticating and self-revealing reality of God which according to its very nature can be known and understood and substantiated only out of itself" (Torrance, 1990:68, 69).

It is precisely because theological science is confronted with the Lord God who has an absolute claim over us that it must be carried out "in the strictest discipline, in stringent self-criticism and in utter obedience to the object." Moreover, because it is God who confronts us, he is always greater than we can conceive and transcends all our formulated knowledge about him; nevertheless, he really gives himself to us as the object of our knowledge. "Hence, even if our knowing of him is not adequate to his nature, it is not for that reason false, for he has come to us, adapted himself to us, and given himself to us to be known as reality within the actualities of our own being and existence, in Jesus Christ" (Torrance, 1990:70, 71).

References

Colyer, E.M. 2001. How to Read T.F. Torrance: Understanding His Trinitarian & Scientific Theology. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. 393pp.

Grenz, S.J. 2004. Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress. 289pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1969. Theological Science. Oxford: OUP. 368pp.

Torrance, T. F. 1984. Transformation & Convergence in the Frame of Knowledge: Explorations in the Interrelations of Scientific and Theological Enterprise. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 353pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1988. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church. London: T & T Clark. 345pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1990. Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian. Edinburgh: T & T Clark. 256pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1994. Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 71pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1996. (orig. ed. 1965). Theology in Reconstruction. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers. 288pp.

T.F. Torrance: Scientific Methodology and the Knowledge of God

This is the first of three posts on T. F. Torrance's scientific theological method.

Comment: This post concerns the scientific methodological approach to the knowledge of God that is foundational to the thought of T. F. Torrance. The issue of methodological procedure may at first seem boring and irrelevant, but I assure you it is not. Theological method is concerned with how we go about developing knowledge of God. Where do we start? What determines the questions we ask? If we follow the Western Augustinian-Thomist tradition and develop our knowledge of God based upon the effects of the cosmos, we end up with the immutable, impassible, inscrutable, omnipotent God of the western tradition. On the other hand, if we follow the methodological procedure of the Alexandrian Fathers, including Athanasius (see final paragraphs of previous post), we end up with a view of God very different from the dreaded "omni-God" many of us grew up with.

As you read this post, keep several related questions in mind. How do we develop knowledge of God? Do we start with the creation (effects) and make inferences about its cause (God)? Do we follow the negative way (via negativa) by negating the empirical phenomena of the creation and asserting that "God is not this?" Do we start by removing the limits of creation and saying God is more than this (via emenintia)? Or do we follow Athanasius and the great thinkers of Alexandria and assert that knowledge of God must be developed in accordance with the nature of God? If we follow Athanasius (and Torrance), we will conclude that knowledge of God is developed in accordance with the one who is "of one nature (being) with the Father" ‒ Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.

For Torrance, there is a "way of acting and thinking" which applies to every field of scientific endeavour, one which mirrors our ordinary way of thinking as we engage the environment in our daily lives. According to Torrance (1969:106, 107):

This is the way of acting and thinking that is no more and no less than the rigorous extension of our basic rationality, as we seek to act toward things in ways appropriate to their natures, to understand them through letting them shine in their own light, and to reduce our thinking of them into orderly forms on the presumption of their inherent intelligibility.

The operative word in Torrance's description is "appropriate," for "pure science can yield results only when the method and the matter are purely matched" (Torrance, 1969:107). Hence, the "fundamental axiom" of Torrance's scientific theological method is that knowledge in any field of inquiry, including theology, must be developed according to the nature of the reality under study. Torrance describes this general methodological principle as "kataphysic inquiry," derived from the Greek kata physin ("according to nature") (Palma, 1984:7; Torrance, 1992:25; 1994:45, 46; Colyer, 2001a:322).

For Torrance (1984:269, 270), to think theologically and scientifically is to think in accordance with the nature of things and in consonance with the "interior principles" that are disclosed in the process of inquiry. Early in his career, Torrance (1969:viii) wrote:

It is always the nature of things that must prescribe for us the specific mode of rationality that we must adopt toward them, and prescribe also the form of verification apposite to them, and therefore it is a major part of all scientific activity to reach clear convictions as to the distinctive nature of what we are seeking to know in order that we may develop and operate with the distinctive categories demanded of us.

For Torrance, whether in theology or science, there is only one basic way of knowing that develops different "modes of rationality" in accordance with the nature of the object of inquiry. Because we must allow the nature of what we seek to know to determine the form and content of our knowledge, our approach to knowing varies according to the nature of the object of inquiry. In seeking to understand what is knowable in its specific field of inquiry, science will develop investigative procedures, analytical tools, and structures of thought that are particularly suited to its object of inquiry (Torrance, 1980:8, 9; Colyer, 2001b:271). According to Torrance (1990:67, 68):

All scientific activity is one in which the reason acts strictly and precisely in accordance with the nature of its object, and so lets the object prescribe for it both the limits within which it may be known and the mode of rationality that is to be adopted toward it. But for that reason it also lets the nature of the object determine the kind of verification or demonstration appropriate to it. It will not insult the object by trying to subject it to some kind of demonstration that has been developed elsewhere in accordance with the nature of a different kind of object, nor by employing for its investigation external criteria dragged in from some other realm of knowledge. The kind of verification it must scientifically employ is the kind that derives from and is in accord with the actual way in which knowledge has arisen.

Because the inquirer is bound by the nature of the object under study and is committed to its "objective reality" and "intrinsic rationality," a rigorous scientific method does not allow for any "free thinking." Torrance (1990:126) explains:

Hence far from thinking in some free detached or dispassionate way, we think as we are compelled to think by the evidential grounds, and develop explanatory theories or laws strictly in accordance with the nature of things and their inherent rational order as they are brought to light in the course of scientific inquiry.

Comment: It is the nature of the object of inquiry as disclosed to us in the process of scientific investigation that determines the way the reality under study is to be known. This means that, contrary to new age, "feel good" theology," we cannot "design" a god that suits our particular tastes ("My god tells me . . ."). Rather, we humbly inquire into the nature of God as revealed to us and from there develop our theology in a scientifically appropriate way.

Because the subject matter of theology concerns, among other things, the Word of God who has become flesh in space and time, there is an aspect of its object of investigation that is open to empirical and critical observation, as in the natural sciences. According to Torrance (1994:48; cf. 1982:33, 34):

[T]he theologian is concerned with God as he reveals himself to us within space and time through historical Israel and in the incarnation of his Word in Jesus Christ, so that we cannot divorce what God reveals to humankind from the medium of spatio-temporal structures which he uses in addressing his Word to human beings. Empirical correlates therefore have an eradicable place in theology, as in natural science ‒ hence theological truths and concepts may not be resolved away or "demythologized" without losing their essential content or import.

Theology, therefore, operates within the God-world relation. The empirical correlate of theology means that God has entered human space-time relationships; that is, the life of God has fallen within the life of humankind so that God can really be known as God (Purves, 2001:70).

Comment: Torrance's "empirical" method, wherein God is understood to have entered space and time in a way that can be known, is directly opposite to theologians like Bultmann who are constrained by cosmological dualism (see my post, "Torrance and the Problem of Dualism, part 1, November, 2009).

In regard to knowledge of the divine, God has revealed himself to us in the theatre of space and time in "modes of rationality" that he has conferred upon creation and upon humanity; therefore, it is in and through the universe of space and time that theology seeks to make a disciplined response to God's historical self-revelation. In relation to its object of inquiry, a rigorous scientific approach to theology must be informed by actual knowledge of God as revealed to us in the economy (oikonomia) of salvation, that is, in God's historical dialogue with Israel and particularly through the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit. God's self-revelation in time and space calls into question "all alien presuppositions and antecedently reached conceptual frameworks" regarding knowledge of God. For Torrance, this necessitates the development of a rigorous, scientific epistemology that is governed from beginning to end by the 'nature' of its object of inquiry: "God in his self-communication to us within the structures of our human and worldly existence" (Torrance, 1980:1; 1990:62, 63, 122).

Comment: God's self-revelation in time and space calls into question "all alien presuppositions and antecedently reached conceptual frameworks" regarding knowledge of God. Torrance's scientific theology is an a posteriori (roughly, "after the fact") approach to knowledge of God. It develops its understanding from what has been previously given in God's self-revelation in Israel and particularly in the incarnation and the sending of the Spirit. This is diametrically opposed to an a priori (roughly, "before the fact") approach to knowledge of God that begins with humanly contrived presuppositions and conjectures as to what is proper for God to be.

Because God has given himself to be known in Jesus Christ, for Torrance, "the central and pivotal point of all genuine theological knowledge" is found in christology. In proceeding in reference to the nature of the object of inquiry, scientific theology will operate on a christological basis, for christology is critical to the understanding of the nature of God. Rather than go "behind the back" of Jesus to develop knowledge of God, christology teaches us to know God in strict accordance with the steps he has taken to make himself known to us and, therefore, to test our knowledge of God in accordance with the steps in which knowledge of him has actually arisen in space and time (Torrance, 1990:71). Hence, for Torrance, the incarnation of Jesus Christ is the "actual source" and "controlling centre" for the Christian doctrine of God (Torrance, 1996a:18). To know God through the incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, who is of "one substance with the Father" (homoousios to Patri) is to know God in strict accordance with God's nature (kata physin) and, hence, in a theologically scientific way (cf. Torrance, 1969:110-113; 1988:3, 51, 52).

Comment: We can briefly sum up Torrance's scientific approach to theology as follows: A scientific approach to theology seeks to develop knowledge in accordance with the nature of the reality (God) under study. Because Jesus Christ is "of one nature or being with the Father" (homoousios to Patri), a scientific approach to the knowledge of God will begin with God's self-revelation in the incarnate Son. In short, a scientific approach to the knowledge of God begins with Jesus!!

References

Colyer, E.M. 2001a. How to Read T.F. Torrance: Understanding His Trinitarian & Scientific Theology. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. 393pp.

Colyer, E.M. 2001b. A Scientific Theological Method. In E. Colyer, ed. The Promise of Trinitarian Theology: Theologians in Dialogue with T. F. Torrance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Ch. 9.

Palma, R.J. 1984. Thomas F. Torrance's Reformed Theology. Reformed Review, vol 38, no 1, pp. 2-46.

Purves, A.P. 2001. The Christology of Thomas F. Torrance. In E. Colyer, ed. The Promise of Trinitarian Theology: Theologians in Dialogue with T. F. Torrance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Ch. 3.

Torrance, T.F. 1969. Theological Science. Oxford: OUP. 368pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1980. The Ground and Grammar of Theology: Consonance Between Theology and Science. (Preface to new edition by T.F. Torrance, 2001). Edinburgh: T & T Clark. 256pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1982. Reality and Evangelical Theology: The Realism of Christian Revelation. (Forward by K.A. Richardson, 1999). Downers Grove, IL: IVP. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster. 174pp.

Torrance, T. F. 1984. Transformation & Convergence in the Frame of Knowledge: Explorations in the Interrelations of Scientific and Theological Enterprise. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 353pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1988. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church. London:T & T CLark. 345pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1990. Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian. Edinburgh: T & T Clark. 256pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1992. The Mediation of Christ (rev ed). Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard. 126pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1994. Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 71pp.

Torrance, T.F. 1996. The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons. London: T & T Clark. 260pp.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

T. F. Torrance: Scientific Theology and Critical Realism


In the last two posts ('The Problem of Dualism," I & II), we examined the problem of dualism in relation to the knowledge of God. We noted that the cosmological dualism of the ancient Greeks or the Newtonian-Deism of the Enlightenment asserts that the divine has not, or cannot, intervene in the space-time reality of human history. By shutting God out of worldly affairs, cosmological dualism renders the incarnation problematic if not unthinkable (hence, the Gospel is foolishness to the Greeks as well as to those bound by the dualisms of modernity). We also described the epistemological dualism associated with the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. In arguing that we cannot know "the thing in itself" (Ger. Das Ding an sich), Kant posited a disjunction (dualism) between the human knower and that which we seek to know by asserting that our "knowing" is both shaped and constrained by the mental constructs (ideas, images, beliefs, presuppositions) we bring to the act of knowing. For example, according to Kant, the "order" we see in the universe is not a characteristic of the cosmos itself but, rather, is an imposition of a mental construct ("order") upon nature so that we might make sense of an otherwise chaotic manifold of sensory experience. Thus the "laws" of nature are not read from nature but are 'imposed' upon it by the human mind.
Against dualism, Torrance seeks to develop a "unitary" (not dualistic) approach to theology wherein knowledge of the reality under investigation (in this case, God) is developed according to the demands imposed upon us by the intrinsic nature of the object of inquiry. In order to better understand Torrance's approach, we shall explore the closely related topics of "scientific" theology and "critical realism." (In the next post, we will explore the methodology of Torrance's scientific theology.)
Scientific Theology
Torrance (1969:281) describes theology as "a dogmatic, or positive and independent, science operating on its own ground and in accordance with the inner law of its own being, developing its distinctive modes of inquiry and its essential forms of thought under the determination of its given subject-matter."
Comment: Torrance describes theology as a positive science. This may not seem significant, yet it is of major importance. Much western theology arises from the "negative" way (via negativa) promulgated by Thomas Aquinas (12th C.) and others who articulated their doctrine of God based on a negation of the imperfections of the cosmos (e.g., "God is not this"). For example, the world is changing; thus God is "not-changing," that is, God is "immutable" (see my post, "Tommy A. and the Western Split."). In contrast to a negative theology that often (and wrongly) seeks to tell us what God is 'not', Torrance seeks to develop a positive approach to theology based upon God's self-revelation in Jesus.
Note also that Torrance's theology seeks to develop "its distinctive modes of inquiry and its essential forms of thought under the determination of its given subject-matter." Simply stated, God himself (the Object of scientific theological inquiry) sovereignly determines how he will be known, and he does so through the mediation of the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.
Theology is "the unique science devoted to knowledge of God, differing from other sciences by the uniqueness of its object which can be apprehended only on its own terms and from within the actual situation it has created in our existence in making itself known." Scientific theological thinking does not arise from a centre within ourselves or from axiomatic assumptions we make in regard to the nature of God. "Theo-logical" thinking arises, rather, from a centre in God and is possible only because it really is God who is the object of our inquiry and the "ground and possibility" of all our knowledge of him.
Comment: "Theological thinking does not arise from a centre within ourselves." Compare this to Schleiermacher who developed his theology from the "feeling" of dependence in the human consciousness or Augustine who based his trinitarianism on an analogy of the human mind (see my post, "NeoPlatonism: Augustine and the Wedding Cake Cosmos"). Nor does theological thinking arise from "axiomatic assumptions we make in regard to the nature of God." Again, compare this to medieval theologies based on what human beings thought it "proper" for God to be (dignum deo). In contrast, Torrance's scientific theology is an a posteriori form of thinking grounded in the prior "given-ness" of God in Jesus Christ.
"Scientific theology," according to Torrance, "is active engagement in that cognitive relation to God in obedience to the demands of His reality and self-giving." A scientific theology seeks to bring knowledge of God into clear focus, so that the truth of God may shine through unhindered and unobscured by the "opacity" of the human mind. "That is to say, we seek to allow God's own eloquent self-evidence to sound through to us in His Logos so that we may know and understand Him out of His own rationality and under the determination of His divine being" (Torrance, 1969:v-viii).
Comment: Against the Kantian disjunction between the knower and the known, God's own "eloquent self-evidence" has sounded through to us both in the mediation of revelation in ancient Israel (see coming post) and particularly and most clearly in the incarnation of the Word (Logos) of God in Jesus Christ, who is "of one being with the Father" (homoousios to Patri).
In summary, Torrance's scientific theology is a positive (rather than negative) approach to knowledge of God developed in accordance with God's historical self-revelation in the history of Israel and the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Critical Realist Epistemology

In regard to the knowledge of God in general, and the mediation of Christ in particular, Torrance adopts a "Christian realist epistemology," that is, a "biblical and scientific realism" that has been called his "greatest contribution to the theological life and mission of the Church for ages to come." For Torrance, we can have real and accurate knowledge of things outside ourselves, including real and accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ (Kelly, 2007:75).
Critical realism arose in the United States in the early twentieth century as a rejection of an "idealist' over-emphasis on human consciousness and experience. Realism makes the "common sense" claim that realities exist independently of human perception. At its core, realism rejects the idealist insistence that esse est percipi ("to exist is to be perceived"), asserting, instead, that an object may exist apart from being perceived. Critical realism concedes to idealism that whenever something is perceived, it is an object of the mind; however, it does not follow from this that a given reality has no existence except in being perceived. Critical realism takes note of the Kantian emphasis on human perception, yet argues that, even though reality may be conceptually mediated, it does not follow that our concepts or apperceptions constitute reality. Theological realism [such as that embraced by Torrance] is committed to the view that the object of religious experience and inquiry (i.e., God) exists independently of human experience. In acknowledging an independent reality beyond our control, there is a basic humility associated with theological realism, wherein human experience is not the sole arbiter of what is real (Patterson, 1999:12-14; Padgett, 2002: 186, 187).
In his typically tortuous fashion, Torrance describes realism as "an epistemic orientation of the two-way relation between the subject and object poles of thought and speech, in which ontological primacy and control are naturally accorded to reality over all our conceiving and speaking of it" (Torrance, 1982:60). His conception of an "ontological primacy" appears to be a 'realist' assertion that the object of inquiry has a reality that is independent of the human subjective pole and open to scientific investigation.
In contrast to the Newtonian-deistic separation between God and the world or natural theology's attempt to develop knowledge of God apart from God's historical self-disclosure (see coming post), Torrance adopts an "interactionist" approach to knowledge of God, wherein God is understood as personally interacting with the world in space and time while remaining distinct from it. Against the Kantian disjunction between the knower and the known, Torrance's "realist" epistemology asserts that reality discloses itself in a way that we can really comprehend (Torrance, 1982:97-99; 1990:136).
Comment: Without doubt, most readers of this blog embrace a "realist" epistemology in the doctrine of God. In simple terms, we believe in the independent reality of God's existence and that God can be known. Against Kant, we do not regard knowledge of God as the result of the imposition of human thought forms on an otherwise unknowable reality; we believe that divine reality can be known because it has been revealed. Against cosmological dualism, we believe that God has (and continues to) intervene in human affairs, particularly in the history of Israel, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the sending of the Spirit. Thus, for Torrance to assert that the divine exists independently of human perception is no big deal to most of us. Yet in the scientific and academic milieu in which Torrance develops his theology, a "realist" understanding of God is not taken for granted.
Moreover, Torrance adopts an interactionist approach to knowledge of God, wherein God is understood as personally interacting in human history. This is an important point. Torrance divides theologies into two overarching types: 1) theologies that operate from the perspective that God has really "interacted" with humanity in the realm of historical space and time, and 2) dualist epistemologies such as that of Bultmann that shut God out of the world.
Torrance's approach accords with "common sense." In everyday experience the human mind operates in such a way that we are able to distinguish between ourselves as knowing subjects and the objects of our knowledge. In common discourse, we employ ideas or words to represent the realities they signify so that ordinary communication is possible. Our attention is not focused on the words we use; rather, it is focused on the realties to which they refer. Hence, for Torrance, the natural operations of the human mind appear to be "realist" (Torrance, 1982:58)
Torrance insists that knowledge is not centred in the rational human subject only, for there is a "universal rationality" or inherent intelligibility woven into the fabric of the cosmos by its Creator. Because the universe not only exists in intellectu, but also in re, our mental operations are coordinated with patterns and structures in the universe that are independent of us. Realities are not merely the conceptual constructs of the human mind; rather there is a "noetic component" to things that make their intrinsic intelligibility accessible to human knowing. As we engage these realities, we become recipients and channels of their inherent intelligibility. Hence, our images and concepts are tools of discovery rather than tools of creation; that is, realities are discovered, not invented (Torrance, 1985:3; Patterson, 1999:14, 17).
Comment: The preceding paragraph is a powerful argument against Kantian epistemological dualism. Remember that Kant argued that the laws of nature are not "discovered" in nature; rather, they are "imposed" upon nature by the human mind.
Like philosophy, theology operates within a dialectical tension between realism and idealism; that is, "theology engages in its movement between the given object and thought about the object." Classical realism holds that all our knowledge of God arises out of actual experience with a given reality; yet, it also recognizes that there are both "inward" and "outward" aspects to our actual experience. The crucial problem for "realist" epistemology is to assert how we can distinguish independent objective reality from our experience of it. As Torrance (1990:52, 53) asks, "How do we know that the God whom we know in our minds has existence apart from our mental knowledge of him, that 'God' is anything more than an empty 'idea' in our minds?" In answer, Torrance's "realist" theology takes as its fundamental proposition that God is; that is to say, God has a reality independent of our knowledge of him, a reality made known to us "concretely" in the historical encounter with Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Torrance (1990:53, 54) writes:
It is in that encounter that we learn that the objective act of God upon us in the freedom of his Spirit is to be distinguished from our inward subjective conditions, and that the God who meets us face to face in Jesus Christ is . . . the living God who really comes to us from beyond us and acts upon us in the midst of all the other actualities and objectivities of our historical and natural existence.
Against all forms of idealism, wherein an encounter with God is reduced to mere subjective experience [as in Schleiermacher], Torrance argues that we must "let God be God"; that is, we must let knowledge of God be grounded in God's objective self-revelation in Christ and the Spirit. Against any "Pelagian" claim on the part of human reason to be able to acquire knowledge of God on its own [as in an independent natural theology], we must allow all our ideas about God to be called into question by God's objective self-revelation in time and space. Proper theological questions must be shaped by "the nature of God who gives himself to us in sheer grace and remains sovereignly free in his transcendent Lordship over all thoughts of him and over all our formulations of the understanding he gives us of himself in his Word" (Torrance, 1990:57). Torrance's realist approach to theology is exemplified in his description of "dogmatics" as "the actual knowledge of the living God as he is disclosed to us through his interaction with us in our world of space and time ‒ knowledge of that God that is ultimately controlled by the nature of God as he is in himself" (Torrance, 1980:15, 16).
Torrance's 'realist' approach to theology reaches back to the theology of the Patristic era, particularly that of Alexandria [Athanasius, Cyril], where "[p]recise, scientific knowledge was held to result from inquiry strictly in accordance with the nature of the reality being investigated, that is, knowledge of it being reached under the constraint of what it actually and essentially is in itself, and not according to arbitrary convention." In accordance with the Alexandrian fathers, Torrance asserts that to know things in strict accordance with their nature is "the only way to reach real, exact or scientific knowledge in any field of inquiry, through the faithful assent of the mind to the compelling . . . claims of reality upon it" (Torrance, 1988:51; cf. Grenz, 2004:204). Torrance also finds this approach to knowledge in the theology of the great Reformer, John Calvin, who saw that knowledge was derived objectively and "actively" from God "through modes of knowing imposed on us from the nature of God and from his self-manifestation through his Word." For Calvin, all knowledge of God must be referenced back to God himself, so that all or presuppositions may be unmasked and the idols of the mind dethroned in light of God's objective self-manifestation. As Torrance notes, this "principle of objectivity," wherein we detach ourselves from all presuppositions and prejudgments in favour of the given-ness of reality, played a forceful role in scientific knowledge following the Reformation (Torrance, 1996:90-92; Hardy, 1997:259).
Torrance argues for a realist approach to knowledge of God wherein the knower participates in Christ's own knowledge of God. Thus, we must get past all cognitive distortions of the knowledge of God in order to apprehend the reality of God independently of received language and culture, so that our minds may be transformed by God's revelation of himself in Christ. Theological realism insists that, in apprehending Jesus Christ, we do, in fact, apprehend God ‒ not merely ideas about God. Because knowledge of God arises from God's self-revelation in Christ, there is no external, independent court of appeal by which such claims to knowledge could be adjudicated. "Knowledge of God in and through Jesus Christ is inevitably a profoundly personal knowledge, the result of the Trinitarian pattern of God's self-revelation becoming stamped on our minds. This is the sine qua non for knowledge of God in which experience and apprehension lead to real knowing" (Purves, 2001:71).
In the next post (on or about January 15), we will discuss the methodology of Torrance's scientific theology.
.References
Grenz, S.J. 2004. Rediscovering the Triune God: The Trinity in Contemporary Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress. 289pp.
Hardy, D.W. 1997. The Integration of Faith with Scientific Thought: Thomas F. Torrance. In D. Ford, ed. The Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian Theology in the Twentieth Century. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 257-261.
Kelly, D.F. 2007. The Realist Epistemology of Thomas F. Torrance. In G. Dawson, ed. An Introduction to Torrance Theology: Discovering the Incarnate Saviour. London: T & T Clark. Ch. 4.
Padgett, A.G. 2002. Dialectical Realism in Theology and Science. Perspective on Science and Christian Faith, vol 54, pp. 184-192.
Patterson, S. 1999. Realist Christian Theology in a Postmodern Age. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press. 184pp.
Purves, A.P. 2001. The Christology of Thomas F. Torrance. In E. Colyer, ed. The Promise of Trinitarian Theology: Theologians in Dialogue with T. F. Torrance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Ch. 3.
Torrance, T.F. 1969. Theological Science. Oxford: OUP. 368pp.
Torrance, T.F. 1982. Reality and Evangelical Theology: The Realism of Christian Revelation. (Forward by K.A. Richardson, 1999). Downers Grove, IL: IVP. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster. 174pp.
Torrance, T.F. 1985. Reality and Scientific Theology. (New Forward by T.F. Torrance, 2001). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers. 220pp.
Torrance, T.F. 1988. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church. London: T & T Clark. 345pp
Torrance, T.F. 1990. Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian. Edinburgh: T & T Clark. 256pp.
Torrance, T.F. 1996. (orig. ed. 1965). Theology in Reconstruction. Eugene,OR:Wipf & Stock Publishers. 288pp.

A.S. Radcliff: The Claim of Humanity in Christ (in the Torrance tradition), Post 15

Reference Radcliff, A.S. 2016. The Claim of Humanity in Christ: Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T.F. and J.B. Torrance . ...