Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons, Torrance

(Note: It is Monday in California and we are waiting for phone calls from doctors. Please pray that we will be able to get in for the needed tests as soon as possible.)

TorranceThis month I have been reading through the very insightful and almost devotional, theology, The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons, by Thomas F. Torrance. This book is a meditation on the great truth and mystery that God is a Trinity. I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

Torrance introduces his work on the Trinity with the assertion that God cannot be known apart from his historical, personal and relational revelation of Himself through Jesus Christ and His Word. There is nothing about God that is different than Jesus. The revelation of God that comes through Jesus, ministered by the Spirit is true both in the physical and spiritual/cosmic worlds. Thus, because God is revealed as Trinity it is essential to our understanding of God to understand Him as Trinity.

Statements made about God, apart from his active personal self-revelation, as many ancient and modern philosophers would have it, are non-cognitive—they are at best of no more than tangential borderline significance. 3

It is precisely as this living, loving, and acting God that he has come to us in Jesus Christ and unites us to himself by his one Spirit, interacting with us in creation and history, and in our human and physical existence in time and space, all in order to be our God and to have us for his people. 5

The ‘Trinity’ is not just a way of thinking about God, for the one true God is actually and intrinsically Triune and cannot be truly conceived otherwise. There is in fact no real knowledge of God as God except through his revealing or naming of himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the three Persons are the one true God–apart from them God cannot be known in the truth and reality of his Being. 12

The Christian perspective of theology is that our knowledge of God and the uniqueness of his "one and three, three in one" nature comes only from revelation from outside our cognitive world. That is, the Trinity can only be known through God's revelation of Himself which is ultimately through Jesus Christ. This is why the Gospel is so foreign to normal human thinking. Thus, Christian revelation is at heart Trinitarian revealed through  Christ and the Spirit. All Christian talk about God, theology, must be founded in the Trinity, with Jesus Christ as the central revelation.

The Christian doctrine of God is formulated not in some abstract metaphysical way apart from God’s relation to us, but in strict accord with the way which God has actually taken in his self-revealing purpose, not only in naming himself ineffably to Israel and in making himself known to mankind through Israel, but also and supremely in becoming man in the midst of Israel in order to assume our human nature upon himself and become one with us in Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, the incarnate Son of God. 14–15

Revelation is not the revealing of something about God, but God revealing himself out of himself in such a way that he who reveals and he who is revealed are one and the same. That is to say, God is at once the Subject and the Object of revelation, and never the Object without also being the Subject. 22

The ultimate ground and controlling centre of our knowledge of God is, therefore, not simply his Being but his spoken Word, God clothed in Christ with his Word, not God without the Word nor the Word apart from God. 30

The biblical frame for the Trinity depends on Bible study that does not reject rigorous historical/grammatical/literary exegesis, but also views the scripture as God's living breathing word to us that is made alive in our understanding and response by the Holy Spirit. The New Testament interpretation must be holistic (in light of the context of the whole NT) and Christological and Trinitarian.

We penetrate through the literary surface of the Scriptures, without divorcing them from their historical actuality, to the truth content of their contents, the dynamic objective reality of the living Word of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 37

In the incarnation God did not just come into man but actually made our human nature his own in such a way that he came among us precisely as Man, without ceasing to be God...It is thus that Jesus Christ is himself as God and Man, the Word of God become man in the fullest sense, for he is the Word of God not only spoken to man, but the Word of God faithfully heard by man and uttered by man in response to God. 40–41

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