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Kataphysical inquiry, onto-relationality and elemental forms in T.F. Torrance’s doctrine of the mediation of Jesus Christ

Martin M. Davis

In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi; Vol 47, No 1 (2013), 9 pages. doi: 10.4102/ids.v47i1.100

Submitted: 12 July 2012
Published:  07 June 2013


The doctrine of the mediation of Jesus Christ in the scientific theology of T.F. Torrance rests on the fundamental methodological axiom that knowledge is developed according to the nature (kata physin) of the object of scientific inquiry. To know God through the incarnate Son, who is ‘of one nature with the Father’, is to know God in strict accordance with God’s nature and hence in a theologically scientific way. In Torrance’s kataphysical method, a priori knowledge of God is excluded, for epistemology follows ontology. Because the fundamental aspects of reality are relational rather than atomistic, a scientific theological approach to the doctrine of the mediation of Jesus Christ requires that he be investigated within the nexuses of ‘being-constituting interrelations, or ‘onto-relations, which disclose his identity as incarnate Saviour of the world. Following the principle of logical simplicity, the vast and scattered array of Torrance’s thought can be reduced to a minimal number of elemental forms that succinctly describe in a unitary, non-dualist manner the onto-relations that constitute the identity of the incarnate Son. The primary elemental forms of Torrance’s doctrine of mediation are the Nicene homoousion and the Chalcedonian doctrine of the hypostatic union. Two additional elemental forms that readily arise as corollaries of the doctrine of the hypostatic union are the doctrines of incarnational redemption and the ‘vicarious humanity’ of Jesus Christ. These elemental forms provide a conceptual lens for a theologically holistic view of the mediation of Jesus Christ in the scientific theology of T.F. Torrance.

Die leer van die versoening van Christus in die wetenskaplike teologie van T.F. Torrance berus op die fundamentele metodologiese aanname dat kennis volgens die aard(kataphysin) van die voorwerp van wetenskaplike ondersoek verwerf word. Om God deur die vleesgeworde Seun (wat een in wese met die Vader is) te ken, is om Hom in noue ooreenstemming met sy wese en daarom op ’n teologies-wetenskaplike wyse te ken. Volgens Torrance se katafisiese metode is aprioriese kennis van God nie moontlik nie, omdat die ontologie aan die epistemologie voorafgaan. Aangesien die fundamentele kenmerke van die werklikheid relasioneel eerder as atomisties is, vereis ’n wetenskaplik-teologiese benadering tot die leer van die versoening van Christus dat die ondersoek binne die kader van ‘wesensbepalende verhoudings of ‘onto-verhoudingsplaasvind. Dit is immers laasgenoemde wat Christus se identiteit as vleesgeworde Verlosser van die wêreld blootlê. Deur die beginsel van logiese eenvoud toe te pas, kan die omvangryke en sporadiese idees van Torrance gereduseer word tot ’n kleiner aantal kernelemente wat op ’n unitêre, ondubbelsinnige wyse die ‘onto-verhoudings wat die identiteit van die vleesgeworde Seun verteenwoordig, duidelik beskryf. Die vernaamste kernelemente van Torrance se leer oor die middelaarskap is die Niceaanse homoousion en die Chalcedoniese leer van die wesenseenheid. Twee opvallende, parallelle kernelemente by die leer van die wesenseenheid is die leer van die verlossing op grond van die vleeswording en die plaasvervangende mensheid van Jesus Christus. Hierdie kernelemente verskaf ’n konsepsuele lens waardeur ’n teologiese, holistiese beskouing van die middelaarskap van Jesus Christus in die wetenskaplike teologie van T.F. Torrance ondersoek kan word.


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Author affiliations

Martin M. Davis, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa and Greenwhich School of Theology, All Nations Christian Church International


T.F. Torrance; atonement; theological holism; homoousion; hypostatic union; incarnation


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1. The pre-history of the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the Christology of T.F. Torrance
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In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi  vol: 50  issue: 1  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/ids.v50i1.2045

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