The Reformation into the Modern Era

The Reformation into the Modern Era

T F Torrance
The main drive of the Reformers was to pull away from the control of the Romanised Church that was governed by its own latinised, juridical law and try and work towards a truly catholic and ecumenical church.  Understanding that the Roman church had lost ties with its ancient roots, the Reformers went around them and accessed the now freely available ancient resources to bring to the day genuine Apostolic teaching.  They revolted against the church of Rome's insistence of a supreme ecumical authority that used manipulation and coercion to keep people in line.  John Calvin desired to recover the face of the ancient catholic church.  We today might draw away from the catholic term but the reformers want to revive catholicity back to its original format.  If we understand this word in its original intention,…
Read More
A Review (so far)- Stuart Johnson

A Review (so far)- Stuart Johnson

T F Torrance
Now will be a good time to do a quick review of where are so far.  Jesus Christ is the Head and Source of the church.  The moment the gospel started to spread out of Israel and into the world, there were problems of misunderstanding and confusion and attempts by those with ulterior motives to bring about disunity.  However, what kept the church together and unified was its firm commitment to the Apostolic teaching.  The universal (or katholikos) church in the ancient era was not the same church as we understand it today.  The church of Rome have hijacked this ancient word katholikos for its own distinct brand of Christianity.  Nevertheless, as a movement among others they are part of the household (οικουμενικός) of God what we today understand as the ecumenical church.  This two…
Read More
The Cracks begin to Emerge – Stuart Johnson

The Cracks begin to Emerge – Stuart Johnson

T F Torrance
With the period of the Nicene era there was an emphasis on knowing God by obedience to God's own self-revelation in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  Towards the end of this period and into the early medieval period thought patterns foreign to the gospel began to gain a foothold in Patristic theology.  It might surprise some that one of the fundamental heresies of Arianism was the belief that God must be held at an infinite distance from humanity.  They implied that human beings could not tolerate the absolute presence of God.  As a result, they asserted Jesus was created as an intermediary between God and the world (Athanasius, De Decretis 7ff).  He was not quite god and He was not quite a creature.  The Bishops began to cover their ears…
Read More
The Foundation of Unity – Stuart Johnson

The Foundation of Unity – Stuart Johnson

T F Torrance
At one time the relationship between God and humanity was confined to the framework of the Jewish institution.  In turn this Jewish system had differing interpretations  held by the various sects which further confined the work of God.  The chosen nation upon which the grace of God was suppose to be mediated to the world had now become turned inward on itself.  There were not only lines of demarcation between the Jews and the Gentiles but also within the Jewish community.  We find contention between the Sadducees and the Pharisees in the New Testament synoptic gospels.  Then there was the problem of those who may have fallen in breach of the law.  There were  others had become divorced, unclean through disease, or collected tax for the Roman empire.  There was…
Read More
Towards Unity Pt 2 – Stuart Johnson

Towards Unity Pt 2 – Stuart Johnson

T F Torrance
If the universal church is full of churches that are divided against each other, then this implies a divided Christ.  What is obvious in the universal community of the Body of Jesus Christ, who intrinsically cannot be divided, is a very divided Body.  It is as if there are several different Christ's that are being portrayed, each with their own views on what Jesus Christ has done and what this means to us.  All cannot be right.  There must be some way of appropriating the true nature of who Jesus Christ and His self-communicating of God to us by which we can all measure what we say of God in comparison to what God says of Himself to us.  This raises the question that all must ask of ourselves that…
Read More
Towards Unity – Stuart Johnson

Towards Unity – Stuart Johnson

T F Torrance
I am sure there is a deep desire among the Christian community to be unified in the One faith.  However, there is the difficulty of laying aside our theological positions, personal and political ambitions, and ulterior motives that set out to try and get the best denominational advantage in the event such a goal could be achieved.  Yet in striving towards such a goal, can we dare to admit that it is not all about who has the best church or who is more closely aligned with the Bible or who has got it right?  It is and always will be all about Jesus Christ who is the Head and Source of it all.  It is about the Word who is of the same being with the Father making Himself…
Read More
Is the Patristic Tradition Important? – Stuart Johnson

Is the Patristic Tradition Important? – Stuart Johnson

T F Torrance
There is no doubt the church was grounded on the Incarnate, Resurrected and Ascended Word.  The church is united in Jesus Christ where in principle there is union in the Father, Son and Spirit that flows out of Him as the Source upon which the whole church is fed and nourished.  It is a one way stream of eternal love that comes to us by means of Jesus Christ and our response is wrapped up by Him, sanctified and returned to the Father. We have all come from out of the very same Lord Jesus Christ and it is to Him we are headed.  The question is are we all united in this reality?  It is glaringly evident this is not the case.  The universal church today has suffered such…
Read More
Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 20

Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 20

T F Torrance
The truth of all things is not a anthropologically derived system of presuppositional statements.  Truth existed before any human being became aware of it.  It existed before the foundations of creation were laid and will remain after the end of this age.  What humanity have done is to make this truth available through their ability to observe what they see and transform it into rational expression.  The more we can engage with and harness the truth of what we observe the more reliable and credible our enquiry will be.  More importantly, those who have laid down the truth in our past give a foundation so that others can build on this truth allowing it to govern how one is to progress forward. In Christianity we have Jesus Christ, the Person,…
Read More
Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 18

Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 18

T F Torrance
Now we are coming to the most interesting part of which theology and modern science share.  There comes a point in our enquiry where we come to the very edge of things that are and press into areas that are not.  It is the point of existence and nonexistence, being and nonbeing, of order and disorder.  It appears to me that at this very point the question of what everything depends on presses onto the questions of the enquirer.  It is the pressing question, "Why is it so?" This dependence is what we call contingency and we know as theologians the Object of our enquiry for which the whole universe depends on is Jesus Christ.  It is the rationality that is inherent in the universe that corresponds with the rationality…
Read More
Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 17

Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 17

T F Torrance
There is an explicitness in the way the knowledge of God is portrayed to us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  Nevertheless there is a mysteriousness in the true nature of who God is even though He is so explicitly revealed in Christ.  As the door to the knowledge of Jesus Christ is open into the very nature of God, we actually experience His loving kindness as we discover things of God we would otherwise never know in any other way.  God gives Himself completely but at the same time we are overwhelmed by His intimate presence to the degree that we often find difficulty in using appropriate words to express His ineffable beauty.  We only make fools of ourselves if we try and turn what is ultimately a…
Read More