Barth vs. Torrance: no holds barred

Ben Myers of Faith&Theology stirred the pot a little filming a lecture for a Theology&Praxis group in Australia. (Note the theological value of the ampersand!) In his video, Myers makes the case that Torrance is not a Barthian after all, despite translating and introducing him to the English world. You can find the excellent summary notes here at Der Evangelische Theologe. WTM, the author of that site, responds with his points of contention in "Why I think Myers isn't quite right about T.F." Both are short and insightful. Myers is summarized as saying:

"At the root of Torrance’s thought that is the driving engine of everything Torrance does. God saves us by coming into our space-time world, penetrating to the deepest structures of our world, assuming all these things, and healing it. TF draws on Athanasios and Greek patristics; salvation as recapitulation. Entering into the world in order to heal it, and the notion that creation is inherently designed for this. Incarnation and resurrection are not alien invasions but the world’s own internal structures are realized when these things occur."

This matches my own impression of Torrance sometimes, and reading him, I frequently wonder if he is establishing a new kind of natural theology. Of course he isn't, but his descriptions of a scientific theology and his treatment of the world's "internal structures" as so intimately connected to Christ always sounds like natural theology coming in through the back door. I'd summarize my impression like this:

In Torrance, knowledge of God seems inevitable.
In Barth, knowledge of God seems unthinkable.

I need to read more Torrance and understand his connection to Philoponus (especially P.'s Christology?), too. I love what I have learned from Torrance, that "the Incarnation and the atonement are internally linked," but I lose sight of his aims because of the language. (Mediation of Christ, 41) Travis at Der Evangelische Theologe does an excellent job addressing Myer's issues, and I learned a great deal in a short amount of time. Perhaps Torrance just doesn't seem as hostile to a naturalist epistemology because of his historical situation; it's just not as clear as Barth's NEIN! to someone not yet as familiar with the intricacies of his thought.


  1. Erin,

    Thanks for the links and for engaging the conversation. You mention natural theology with reference to Torrance, and so you might be interested to know that I currently have an essay under review with a journal addressing that very question. If you are interested in discussing it more, feel free to e-mail me. My e-mail address may be found on my blog.

  2. I would be delighted, thanks!
    *opens email page* :)


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