Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What's in a name?


pontificator Says:
January 24th, 2006 at 6:46 am

BTW, folks, Hays has issued a rejoinder over at his blog…Also, he actually claims that the late James B. Torrance was not a true Reformed theologian—what balderdash! The Torrances are probably the most famous Reformed theological family in Britain!


Compare this what Roger Nicole has to say:


J.B. Torrance presses the thesis that the successors of Calvin operated with a scholastic Aristotelian conception of God, which in turn undermined the biblical idea of divine love, stiffened the concept of God’s covenants with humanity, asserted the priority of law over grace and thus damaged the thrust of Calvin’s biblical insights and articulation. Torrance holds that the logic of the incarnation must emphasize the priority of grace and love throughout God’s opera ad extra, so as to manifest the perfect unity in triunity of the Father who loves all his creatures, the Son who died for all, and the Spirit who draws humans to the Father. Torrance does recognize a mystery here, but he does not face sufficiently squarely the fact that this construction leads to outright universalism (which is surely not Calvin’s view) or introduces a fundamental disparity between the Father’s and the Son’s saving will, which is universal, and that of the Holy Spirit, which is particular. It is not surprising that he names favorably Barth, Moltmann, and Rahner (to whom he infelicitously conjoins the name of the Jansenist Pascal) and quotes with great approval James Orr in a passage of Progress of Dogma where Orr is critical of Calvin as well as of the later Calvinists! What Torrance advocates here can in any case not be promoted in the name of Calvin, even if some perplexity remains as to what his exact teaching may have been concerning the extent of the atonement and the nature and number of the covenants. Calvin’s endorsement of double predestination, of the ultimate bifurcation of human destiny, and of the forensic nature of the atonement is too clear to permit any doubt on that score. Torrance is surprised that a supralapsarian like Samuel Rutherford could also be “the saint of the covenant,” but this is not really puzzling to a thorough Calvinist.



As to his brother, it’s abundantly clear from his books on Karl Barth and Scottish theology that Thomas Torrance was a convinced Barthian who could in nowise subscribe to confessional Calvinism, a la Dordt or Westminster.

Kimel is trying to mount an argument from authority by appealing to James Torrance as a Reformed theologian, when he’s not.

The historical analysis of James Torrance deserves a respectful hearing, which I gave it. But he’s no spokesman for Reformed theology. I will not be party to identity theft.

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