Here is Howard Taylor, M. Th. University of Edinburgh, commenting on his beloved teacher; T. F. Torrance:

Edinburgh_crestHe believed that there is only one way of knowing, whatever the object of knowledge. By that he did not mean that there is only one method of enquiry – very far from it. What he did mean was that all methods of knowing must be appropriate to the subject of enquiry, so that (contra Aristotle and Kant) enquirers must not approach the object of study with a fixed logical system into which they seek to fit the answers to their questions. Rather the subject matter itself will contain its own, at first, hidden logic or rationality, so that natural or theological scientists must seek to uncover a rationality that is inherent in the object of their enquiry. . . .

. . . Rationalistic fundamentalists are those who think they can treat biblical statements as independent from the ultimate Being to whom they refer. Once this move is made they can then apply preconceived rational structures to fit biblical statements (such as “God is love”) into a dogmatic system. But this would be to commit the error that is referred to elsewhere in this article, namely to impose our own systems of logic on the subject matter of enquiry rather than letting it teach us its own inherent logic. Such systems of doctrine tend to be legalistic constructs of our own minds where we may seem to put grace at the center of a theological system but instead end up with a new legalistic system that does not really set people free in Christ. (taken from: Participatio: Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship, 22-23)

And one more word from his nephew, Robert Walker:

. . . TF’s theology therefore operates with what might be called an ‘open center,’ open that is for Jesus Christ to make himself further known. In that sense, TF’s theology is systematic but is not a system. In the nature of the case for him, theology cannot be a system, for it points to and is held together in the person of Jesus Christ in the Trinity and not in any logical system of human devising. His theological method is the Anselmian ‘faith seeking understanding,’ faith looking for a deeper grounding in and apprehension of God in Christ. Understanding his theology means following it in its goal orientated direction, which means that it cannot itself be neatly systematized since its unity is to be found in God and knowledge of him in the Spirit and not in itself. (pg. 43 Participatio, see link above)

This is splendid! If you haven’t read T. F. Torrance, or about him, then click on the link above; you’ll be happy you did! The cool thing about what Taylor and Walker are saying about TFT’s theology, is that it completely re-orientates, methodologically and epistemologically, our starting point for how we approach scripture. Of course, this new starting point finds its mark in none other than the Person of Jesus Christ — ‘God’s own self-interpreting Word’.

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