Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thomas F. Torrance: Theologian of the Trinity

Be prepared for a host of future posts regarding T.F. Torrance. After Ben Myers, I call this my "binge reading" style. I have more books by him in my house right now from the library than I care to admit. But one secondary source I couldn't pass up purchasing was Paul Molnar's Thomas F. Torrance: Theologian of the Trinity. When it came in the mail today, I couldn't wait to dive in and start reading. This lead me to pace around the library with book in hand and devouring the first chapter. You wouldn't know I have to finish all my work to graduate by Friday!

What I am appreciating about Torrance is also what I appreciate so much about theologians like Luther, and Barth: there is such a strong existential component to their task as a theologian. Theology is not simply an investigation of another subject matter's object (though Torrance and Barth kept to this approach quite well), but it is the reflection and seeking of their Lord.

I was particularly moved by this following passage which I found to be as true today as it was during the early part of the twentieth century:

"[Torrance] relished ministering to soldiers in the front line and telling them of the Gospel. One particular incident stuck with Torrance for life. In October 1944 after an assault on San Martino-Sogliano during which he serviced as a stretcher bearer under fire, he came upon a mortally wounded 20-year-old solder named Private Philips who was lying on the ground and clearly did not have much time to live. As Torrance bent over him he said, 'Padre, is God really like Jesus?' Torrance assured him that he was and while he prayed with the man he passed away. But this question raised an important issue for Torrance himself: what had gone wrong in Christian theology that could lead someone to think in such a way that a wedge was driven between Jesus and God? This was the damage done by natural theology because it left the impression that there was a God 'behind the back' of Jesus himself. Years later, Torrance's wonderment was only confirmed once again when an elderly lady in his parish in Aberdeen asked a similar question to that of the solder on the battlefield: 'Dr Torrance, is God really like Jesus?' And again Torrance was troubled and asked, 'What have we been doing in our preaching and teaching in the church, to damage in the faith of our people the relation between their faith in Jesus Christ and God?'"

- Paul D. Molnar, Thomas F. Torrance: Theologian of the Trinity, 12.

1 comment:

Bobby Grow said...

I look forward to reading more from you on Torrance; I like TFT too! I also think Molnar's book is quite good, but I actually prefer reading TFT directly :-) . . . which it sounds like you'll be doing too. I actually prefer TFT to Barth. If your theological tastes are still more trad vs. postmetaphysical, you will too ;-). Of course I always reserve the right to change my tastes ;-). Anyway, have fun with TFT, I do.

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