- An introduction to the material in Incarnation and Atonement, the two volumes of Christology lectures Torrance gave at New College, University of Edinburgh edited by Bob.
- Resurrection, Ascension and Eschatology
- The Holy Spirit: The Completion of Atonement and the Apostolic Foundation of the Church
Friday, November 19, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
- The previously mentioned Brad East is having a fascinating discussion over at his blog Resident Theology with "Theologian of Love" Thomas Oord on whether Oord's theological commitment to a the notion that God is "non-coercive all the way down" ought to lead him to a political commitment to pacifism.
- David Guretzki over at Theomentary says using "incarnational" language about the church is blasphemous, citing a passage from Barth in CD IV.3.2, and I think he is absolutely right.
- Daniel Kirk at Storied Theology has sparked a conversation way too long to follow, but interesting (and at times infuriating) to scan, by calling for a moratorium on the word "homophobic".
Thursday, October 7, 2010
As I understand the prevailing historical scholarship (I'm a theologian, not a historian), reading in the ancient Mediterranean world was entirely an out-loud affair. People just didn't read silently. Even when reading privately, as in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40, people would read out loud so that Philip was able to hear the Ethiopian reading Isaiah in his chariot. That then means not only that "quiet time" as a reading practice would have been a foreign concept, but also that the privacy we associate with this practice ("my quiet time") would have been equally foreign. Philip could hear the Ethiopian and even butt in. Can you imagine sitting in your comfy chair reading the Bible out loud to yourself? Even if you knew no one was around to overhear you it would be weird, but I do my reading in my office at my desk with other people close by - that would just be way too awkward. But this just reinforces how privately we conceive of the spiritual practice of reading Scripture.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
If I may be allowed to speak personally for a moment, I find the presence of God bearing upon my existence 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.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him - to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Rom 16:25-27)
Saturday, June 19, 2010
The apostolic succession of the Church must mean that it is guided by the Canon, that is, by the prophetic and apostolic word as the necessary rule of every word that is valid in the Church. It must mean that the Church enters into the succession of the prophets and apostles in their office of proclamation, and does so in such a way that their proclamation freely and independently precedes, while that of the Church is related to it, is ventured in obedience on the basis of it, is measured by it, and replaces it only as and to the extent that it conforms to it. It must mean that the Church always admits the free power of their proclamation over it. As far as the idea of a living succession is concerned everything depends on the antecessor being regarded as alive and having free power over against the successor. But if, as here, the antecessor has long since died, this can happen only if his proclamation has been fixed in writing and if it is acknowledged that he still has life and free power over the Church to-day in this written word of his. On the written nature of the Canon, on its character as scriptura sacra, hangs his autonomy and independence, and consequently his free power over against the Church and the living nature of the succession.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I do not trust prayer to spontaneity. Most "spontaneous prayers" turn out, upon analysis, to be anything but spontaneous. Too often they conform to formulaic patterns that include ugly phrases such as, "Lord, we just ask you..." Such phrases are gestures of false humility, suggesting that God should give us what we want because what we want is not all that much. I pray that God will save us from that "just." (255)
Dear God, our lives are made possible by the murders of he past - civilization is built on slaughters. Acknowledging our debt to killers frightens and depresses us. We fear judging, so we say, "That's in the past." We fear to judge because in judging we are judged. Help us, however, to learn to say "no," to say, "Sinners though we are, that was and is wrong." May we do so with love. Amen. (256)
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I question these terms collectively and individually: collectively because they are both morally neutral. Scriptures fittingness for Christ’s self-presentation might be described more adequately by terms like ‘faithfulness’ and ‘obedience’, terms that recognize the inherently moral-laden character of knowledge, than ‘inerrancy’ and ‘infallibility’ which fail to bring this reality to view. (‘Infallibility’ may escape this charge if it is seen as the Gospel that seeks the conversion of sinners to repentance and faith which is unable to fail.)
In regard to ‘inerrancy’ in particular, I do not question it because I think factual accuracy has nothing to do with being faithful and obedient in human testimony to Christ, but because a narrow focus on factual accuracy has often had the historical tendency to get people off on rabbit trails in quests to harmonize apparently conflicting accounts in Scripture or other such distractions. Of course being faithful and obedient to Christ must mean that the biblical authors testify in truth and not in falsehood, but the oft repeated notion that if it were proven that Scripture contained even one error we could not trust it is, whether or not such a statement is valid, quite unhelpful in the sense that it beckons us to read Scripture with an eye only to its factual accuracy and not to the Truth that calls us to repentance and faith. This is a subtle distinction and not a radical dichotomy I mean to make. We must trust the factual accuracy of Scripture because its authors were inspired by the Spirit to testify truthfully to Christ, not because its inerrancy is what it means to be inspired. Moreover, in regard to the statement about the Bible not having even one error, I think such language slips into stating the relation between truth and fact as identical where the relation might be a bit more complex than that. I’ve certainly encountered innumerable postmodern approaches to this in which truth and fact have seemingly no relation, and I adamantly resist such a position, but at the same time the fact that Matthew and Mark both have Jesus meeting with his disciples in Galilee after the resurrection while Luke and John have him meeting them in Jerusalem should force us neither to despair of the truth of Scripture nor to seek refuge in some convoluted harmony of the two accounts. There may be an inherent ambiguity and mystery here in the relation of truth and factual accuracy that simply eludes explicit articulation. We must hold firmly to the truth and accuracy of Scripture but in such a way that allows for such tensions and ambiguities. Personally, I am not uncomfortable speaking of some such tensions as errors, as long as we fully understand that in using such language we are consciously using it according to modern definition, that is, we are not foisting our standards on Scripture but simply acknowledging that if such accounts were to be composed within our modern context, we would regard at least one of them as in error. I have found that most conservative Reformed theologians, who as a category are those who tend to stress the inerrancy of Scripture most, are considerably careful in their definition of inerrancy to allow for such tensions and ambiguities, but in practice such care rarely transfers to the ministers whose training includes the reading of such theologians or even to the wider discussions about Scripture in the works of those theologians themselves. I find that when this approach trickles into ministerial contexts, the result is an overemphasis on factual accuracy which tends to produce the fruit of self-assuredness since a factually errorless book in my hands is a tool I can exploit in argumentation, rather than focusing on the Truth of the Gospel which relentlessly calls me to renounce myself in repentance and faith. Speaking of the ‘faithfulness’ and ‘obedience’ of Scripture, on the other hand, addresses not only what Scripture is but what I must be in order to understand it aright.
I question infallibility in particular because, as I said in the beginning, it is not a power in Scripture that makes us see Christ in it but a power in Christ. Spectacles do not make us see. If there is no light or if my eyes are shut, no glasses, no matter how clear, can make me see. It is the light objectively and the openness of my eyes subjectively that allow me to see – spectacles are lenses through which I am helped to see. Accordingly, that we see Christ in Scripture is due to his own divine infallibility that illuminates himself for us and opens our eyes to see him there. Scripture’s faithfulness and obedience to that infallibility allow it to share in it, but we must always recognize that infallibility is never a property which we can ascribe to Scripture in itself but only as it serves the Gospel which gave rise to it and is real independently of it.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Now it may be objected, quite understandably, that by claiming to interpret the resurrection within a framework of thought, of which the resurrection, along with the incarnation, is itself a constitutive determinant, I am operating with an essentially circular procedure. I agree, but reject the implication that this is a vicious circularity artificially intruded into the ground of knowledge. What we are concerned with here is the proper circularity inherent in any coherent system operating with ultimate axioms or beliefs which cannot be derived or justified from any other ground than that which they themselves constitute. It is the case, of course, that the primary axioms of any deductive system are held to be justified if they are included within the consistency of all the axioms and propositions of the system, but, as Kurt Godel has demonstrated, any such consistent formal system must have one or more propositions that are not provable within it but may be proved with reference to a wider and higher system. However, when we are concerned with a conceptual system or a framework of thought which includes among its constitutive axioms one or more ultimates, for which, in the nature of the case, there is no higher and wider system with reference to which they can be proved, then we cannot but operate with a complete circularity of the conceptual system. This must be a proper form of circularity, however, for the system must be one which is internally consistent and which rests upon the grounds posited by the constitutive axioms, without any alien additions, so that the conclusions we reach are found to be anticipated in the basic presuppositions. Such a system, of course, even if entirely consistent with itself, could conceivably be false, and must therefore be open to reasonable doubt: but that means that the system stands or falls with respect to its power as a whole to command our acceptance. And here another important factor must also be taken into account, the capacity of the system to function as a heuristic instrument in opening up new avenues of knowledge which could not otherwise be anticipated, and as an interpretative frame of thought to cope with a wider range of elements not originally in view. Nevertheless, in the last analysis we are thrown back upon the question whether we are prepared to commit ourselves to belief in the ultimates which are constitutive of the system. (Torrance, Space, Time and Resurrection, pp. 14-15)
Thursday, May 6, 2010
...only as we are able to appropriate and understand the Old Testament in its mediation of permanent structures of thought, conceptual tools, as I called them earlier, shall we be in a position really to understand Jesus even though we must allow him to fill them with new content and reshape them in mediating his own self-revelation to us through them.Among these permanent structures let met refer to the Word and Name of God, to revelation, mercy, truth, holiness, to messiah, saviour, to prophet, priest and king, father, son, servant, to covenant, sacrifice, forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, atonement, and those basic patterns of worship which we find set out in the ancient liturgy or in the Psalms. (Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, p. 18)
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Dr. Myk Habets, lecturer in systematic theology at Carey Baptist College in Auckland, New Zealand, has graciously offered the following article originally published in New Zealand's The Baptist magazine as a guest post.
Prayer Sydney Style
During the day I teach systematic theology at Carey Baptist College and I publish books and articles on the doctrine of the Trinity and other related topics. Outside of work I am a husband and the father of two lovely little children – a three-year-old daughter named Sydney, and a one-year old-son named Liam. At bedtime my wife and I tuck Sydney in and then pray with her before she goes off to sleep. Early on in this routine I had to ask myself a question – How will I lead Sydney in prayer? Theology is produced by worship and worship is the product of theology, so prayer is an aspect of both theology and worship, something I lecture on all the time to adults. But how to inculcate in my three-year-old daughter good theological habits was the question. Now I don’t believe there is any one right answer to this question so what follows is not a ‘this is what you should do,’ or ‘this is the correct way.’ Rather, what follows is the way that I have adopted in teaching my daughter how to pray that is biblical, God-honouring, and theologically robust.
First some rules of Trinitarian theology the church has found to be faithful to Scripture. 1), God is one being, three persons. 2), each person has a distinct identity and yet each is fully God. 3), it is appropriate to think of the action of the triune God as one and undivided and yet to think of the work of the three divine persons as distinct. 4), Jesus is physically at the right hand of the Father. 5), God is Spirit and thus the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are everywhere present at all times.
That leaves us with prayer ‘Sydney style.’ This is what I did not want to pray, not because it is incorrect, but because it is ambiguous and teaches, in my opinion, bad habits which rear their ugly fruit in later life. ‘Dear God, thank you for…, Dear God, we ask for…’ The word ‘God’ is perfectly fine, but it lacks any specificity and is, at best, impersonal, at worst it is an idea or concept divorced from the triune God of the Bible. So this is what we pray. ‘Dear God the Father in heaven, and God Jesus Christ in heaven, and God the Holy Spirit who lives inside me. We thank you for…We ask you for…’ Now that Sydney is getting older, we pray the following, ‘Dear God the Father in heaven, and everywhere, God Jesus Christ who is in heaven, and everywhere by his Spirit, and God the Holy Spirit, who is in my heart and the hearts of those who love him. We thank you for…We ask you for…’
I trust it is obvious what I am doing but let me spell it out briefly for the sake of clarity. I am using the word ‘God’ in reference to the triune God who is intensely personal. This will (hopefully!) avoid Sydney having any ideas that God is an impersonal force, or energy or that he is static. I am using the personal names for God – ‘Father,’ ‘Son’/’Jesus Christ,’ ‘Holy Spirit’ – in personal ways and in differentiated ways, so that she develops the habit of thinking of God as three persons but one being (not that this language is available to her at present). And I am making it clear that the triune God is personally present to her and at the same time universally present in creation and beyond. I am hoping this will forestall any individualistic notions of her Christianity and yet develop within her an intimacy with the triune God of grace.
Well this is what I am doing and why I am doing it. So if you see Sydney around church or Carey, why not ask her where the Holy Spirit is (or the Father or Jesus) and see what she says? Perhaps a follow up article in a few years is required to see how my experiment is going. I do pray to the triune God that she develops the mind of Christ in worship and comes to know and love God for who he really is, despite my theological and parental limitations.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
The kind of time we have in this passing world is the time of an existence that crumbles away into the dust, time that runs backward into nothingness. Hence the kind of historical happening we have in this world is happening that decays and to that extent is illusory, running away into the darkness and forgetfulness of the past. As happening within this kind of time, and as event within this kind of history, the resurrection, by being what it is, resists and overcomes corruption and decay, and is therefore a new kind of historical happening which instead of tumbling down into the grave and oblivion rises out of the death of what is past into continuing being and reality. This is temporal happening that runs not backwards but forwards, and overcomes all illusion and privation or loss of being. This is fully real historical happening, so real that it remains happening and does not slip away from us, but keeps pace with us and, as we tumble down in decay and lapse into death and the dust of past history, outruns us and even comes to meet us out of the future. That is how we are to think of the risen Jesus Christ. He is not dead but alive, more real than any of us. Hence he does not need to be made real for us, because he does not decay or become fixed in the past. He lives on in the present as real live continuous happening, encountering us here and now in the present and waiting for us in the future. (Atonement, 246, emphasis his).