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The doctrine of revelation in the theology of Thomas F. Torrance

By Timothy Charles Gill


This thesis is an exposition and close reading of Torrance's doctrine of revelation and of the theological epistemology that emerges from it. In Torrance's account personal knowledge of God is available only in his self revelation in Christ. However, it is shown that his understanding of the place of the Bible and nature in theology points to them both as places of divine self-revelation.\ud \ud There is a gracing of all knowledge of God whether in Christ, Scripture or nature which means that God is always\ud sovereign of his self-revelation. In his engagement\ud with the writings of Einstein on scientific method Torrance finds a similar gracing of scientific knowledge.\ud \ud Chapter one demonstrates the foundational place of revelation in Christ in Torrance's theology. From this self revelation Torrance arrives at his definition of scientific\ud method, namely the precedence of ontology over epistemology. The epistemological significance of the doctrine of justification by grace is applied to the place of the Bible in revelation (chapter two). Barth's reasons for rejecting natural theology are explored (chapter three). Chapters four and five demonstrate that the gracious aspect of knowledge of reality applies not only to theology but also to the natural sciences. The natural sciences are brought under a larger theological account of reality in which their inexplicable ability to uncover the reality of the universe is founded on the creative Word of God. Torrance is shown to have turned the natural sciences into natural theology but in a way that compromises neither the independence of the sciences from theology in their operation nor the sovereign and gracious aspect of all knowledge of God.\ud \ud From Torrance's doctrine of revelation there emerges a critically realist epistemology which takes account of the subjective element in all human knowing, is non-dualist,\ud correlates with the epistemology which characterises \ud contemporary scientific practice and unifies a wide range of disciplines including the natural sciences, the social sciences and humanities including theology

Publisher: School of Theology & Religious Studies (Leeds)
Year: 2007
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