Friday, January 11, 2008

T. F. Torrance is a good thing…

The following is from Peter Heltzel's 1999 article "Thomas Torrance" in the Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology.

It is from an active personal relationship with the Lord that theology should be written. For Torrance, all theology is doxology. His approach embodies the worshipful devotion expressed in the ancient dictum which Torrance repeats in a dialectical and circular way—lex credendi, lex orandi; lex orandi, lex credendi. …

There is an internal logic to all of the Christian faith that Torrance seeks to discover and in this way it is like the unitary reality that scientists try to discover in nature.

Torrance argues that human knowledge is multi-leveled and corresponds with the multi-leveled system of observable reality. According to Torrance, modern science has distilled this hierarchy of truths to three basic levels:

As Einstein, Polanyi, and others have shown us, the stratified structure of scientific knowledge usually comprises three levels of thought coordinated with one another: the primary or basic level, which is the level of our ordinary day-to-day experience and the loosely organised natural cognitions it involves; the secondary level of scientific theory with its search for a rigorous logical unity of empirical and conceptual factors; and the tertiary level where we develop a more refined and higher logical unity with a minimum of refined concepts and relations. (1996:84 [The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons. Edinburgh: T & T Clark])

This three-tiered structure of knowledge within science, can be applied in the same way to theology.

For Torrance the structure of theological inquiry has three levels: "evangelical and doxological," credal formulations, and theological elaboration. Although the levels appear to be progressive, they do not compose a strict, logical, ascending progression. Rather, on any one level the content and concepts of the other two are present. In this way, this Trinitarian structure embodies a circular hermeneutic. As one moves from scripture to creed to theological elaboration in Torrance's theological structure, because of the ecclesial context of theology, they are simultaneously brought back into the Trinitarian passages of Scripture in the Church through proclamation, catechesis, liturgy and hymnody.

I would add the following notes:

Patch says, "The triune love of God in Christ and His intercession among the faithful by the Holy Spirit are confirmed in all my experience in the Church. These truths are the axiomatic grounds, or lenses, of introspection and inspection I use to understand and function in the world. I go by the Creed as a methodology, which comes from the primary substance of the early liturgy and kerygma."

Stitch says, "The nomological coherence of the world and its causal closure are confirmed in all my experiences in the laboratory. Those principles are the axiomatic grounds, or lenses, I use to understand and function in the world. I follow empirico-deductive reasoning as a methodology, which comes from the primary substance of lived, natural experience."

I say, "Keep up this duet. It's nice."

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