Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is God really like Jesus?

On the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth, something about the theological contributions of Thomas F. Torrance.
.... As a chaplain during World War II, he came across a young soldier, scarcely twenty years old, who was mortally wounded. “Padre,” he asked Torrance, “Is God really like Jesus?” Torrance assured him, “He is the only God that there is, the God who has come to us in Jesus, shown his face to us, and poured out his love to us as our Savior.” As he prayed and commended him to the Lord, the young man passed away.

A few years later, one of his parishioners in Aberdeen, a dying, elderly lady asked him the same question: “Dr. Torrance, is God really like Jesus?” That this doubt arose from among believers within the Church itself troubled Torrance deeply. He wondered how the Church distorted its message and created obstacles for its members that kept them from joyous participation in communion with the living God that was theirs in Christ by the Spirit.

The question of the dying soldier and woman suggested to Torrance that people believed there was a God “behind the back” of Jesus. But for Torrance, God has already established communion with men in Christ, and the Church is the community of witness to God’s reconciling activity in this creaturely world of space and time. The Church proclaims that through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit we have access to God the Father. This message, for Torrance, is the heart of the Gospel, the essence of the Church, and the sole foundation for all theological activity. ....

The Great Ecumenical Councils confessed the oneness of being and agency of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit with God the Father. As the Eternal Son and Creator Word of the Father, Jesus Christ is the One by, through, and for whom the entire created order—space and time, structure and matter, form and being—came into being ex nihilo, as well as the One in whom it is ultimately sustained and redeemed. Because Jesus is homoousios with the Father and the Spirit, he is the very revelation of God, and as the risen, ascended, and advent Lord, he continues to heal the humanity he assumed so that we may live in union with the triune God. Christ is also homoousios with us, healing our minds and enabling us to think from a center in God rather than in ourselves. We can again do theology as a truly scientific enterprise, one faithful to its own true object: God known in Christ by the Spirit within the context of the created order of space and time. .... [more]
The article is titled "What Scientists Get, and Theologians Don’t, About Thomas F. Torrance," and that is the subject of most of the remainder.