Wednesday, April 18, 2012

All Things Torrance: Final Post

For the past two and one-half years we have followed in this blog my exploration of the doctrine of the mediation of Jesus Christ in Torrance’s scientific theology. During that time, I have identified a basic order or progression of ideas that helps me to understand Torrance’s doctrine of mediation.

This basic order begins with the methodological axiom that is fundamental to Torrance’s scientific theology. As Torrance repeatedly argues, in any field of scientific inquiry, knowledge must be developed according to the nature (kata physin) of the object of study as it reveals itself in the course of scientific investigation. From this fundamental axiom, two other basic principles naturally emerge: these are the principles of “onto-relationality” and “theological holism.”
Because reality is interrelational, an inquiry into the nature of the object of study requires that it be investigated within the nexus of “being-constituting” interrelations, or “onto-relations,” that disclose its identity. In keeping with this principle, I have located Torrance’s doctrine of mediation within the three nexuses of “onto-relations” that, according to Torrance, disclose the identity of Jesus Christ as incarnate Saviour of the world. These are Christ’s interrelations with 1) Israel, 2) with God, and 3) with humanity.
I began by following Torrance in grounding the mediation of Christ in the nexus of his interrelations with historical Israel, a matrix of interrelations Torrance calls the “womb of the incarnation.” Then I followed another fundamental principle of Torrance’s scientific theology, one he adapted from Einstein: “logical simplicity.” In my work on Torrance, I have adapted this principle to reduce Torrance’s vast and seemingly disconnected material on the mediation of Jesus Christ to a minimal number of elemental forms. By organising the themes of revelation and reconciliation in the mediation of Jesus Christ around these basic constitutive concepts, I have intended to facilitate the understanding and appreciation of Torrance’s thought by non-professional theologians.
The elemental forms around which I have organised Torrance’s material on revelation and reconciliation in the mediation of Jesus Christ are the Nicene homoousion, the Chalcedonian doctrine of the hypostatic union, the doctrine of incarnational redemption, and the doctrine of the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ. Having examined Torrance’s doctrine of the mediation of Jesus Christ, it has become clear to me that Torrance’s thought on this subject could easily be reduced to only two overarching elemental forms: that is, the homoousion and the hypostatic union. Indeed, these two elemental forms are the primary “christological tools” of Torrance’s doctrine of the mediation of Christ. Torrance’s doctrine of incarnational redemption and the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ could easily be subsumed under his doctrine of the hypostatic union, for they are plainly corollaries of this doctrine.
In addition, the elemental forms of Torrance’s thought are related to another fundamental aspect of his scientific theology: theological holism. Each elemental form displays a unitary, non-dualist character. The homoousion precludes a dualism between Jesus and the Father, such as is found in adoptionist christologies, while the hypostatic union precludes a docetic dualism that separates Jesus from humanity. At the same time, Torrance’s doctrine of incarnational redemption guards against a dualism between the incarnation and the atonement, or between the person and work of Christ, by asserting that the incarnation is inherently redemptive while redemption is inherently incarnational. Finally, Torrance’s doctrine of vicarious humanity describes the intrinsic connection between the faith and obedience of Jesus Christ and our own salvation.
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I hope these posts on Torrance have been beneficial to many of you. I know that the work I have done, and continue to do, on this great theologian has greatly strengthened my relationship with Jesus Christ. I shall forever be grateful to T.F. Torrance for taking me deep into the loving heart of the Triune God.
At this point in my doctoral work, I am required to read many other dissertations-theses that have been written on Torrance in recent years. This itself is a vast undertaking. I will continue to write on subjects related to Trinitarian-incarnational theology as I am able, sharing with you what I am learning. No doubt, as time goes on, I will have much more to say about the greatest English-speaking theologian of our time.

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 . ...