Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Knowledge of God From John Knox through Thomas Torrance

I am on a bit of a posting blitz, but here is a post I wrote quite some time ago that I really like; enjoy:

In commenting on Evangelical Calvinist, John Knox’s understanding of God; Thomas Torrance offers a profound statement of what all of this entails:

Young, Thomas Torrance
[K]nowledge of the one and only God, as far as it is true knowledge, enshrines the mystery of God, and so is confessed and acknowledged as God eternal, infinite, immeasurable, incomprehensible, omniscient, invisible. This God whom we know cannot be fitted into our knowledge. God cannot be commanded by our reasons — cannot be comprehended by our minds. It is certainly to our minds that God reveals himself but only in such a way that he remains eternal, infinite, incomprehensible, etc. Knowledge of God cannot be put into precise words. God’s majesty defies definition or description — all theological language is apocalyptic in so far as it is genuine. That is true above all of the Trinity — knowledge of this God is infinitely open. Thus in faith the human reason is opened wide to the infinite and incomprehensible being and majesty of God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. [Thomas F. Torrance, Scottish Theology: From John Knox to John McLeod Campbell, (T&T Clark: Edinburgh, 1996), 6 -- A review copy provided graciously by T&T Clark]

You will quickly notice which direction Torrance believes knowledge of God comes from; not from our epistemological schemas, but from God to us through Christ and into the Triune life of God himself. This approach to knowing God runs against the construing God from thinking of him through his works in creation or something. Or trying to find analogies in creation, or in humanity that in latent ways allow us to think and speak about God. No! Knowledge of God for Torrance, and as he would contend, John Knox, is a gift from God in Christ for us through the Spirit. There is never one-to-one correspondence between our theological language and God’s being. Instead, theological language is something that is constantly given to us anew as God continues to break in on our world, on our conceptions; and re-orders and re-orientates our grammar in a way that puts to death anything we had conceived of prior to this encounter in Christ. He provides a ground for knowing him that is completely out of this world (but decidedly and concretely in this world); the God-Man. He presents us with concepts that breaks up and re-orders our imaginations in ways that place us upon the precipice of heaven’s throne; Ezekiel knows what I’m talking about.
Just a little reflection . . .

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