'The danger of vertigo' : an evaluation and critique of Theōsis in the theology of Thomas Forsyth Torrance
The Christian tradition, both East and West, has developed various models and theories of the atonement as explanations of what it means to speak of the reconciling activity of God in Christ. Central to these has been the claim that God has reconciled the world to himself in Christ. One way of testifying to the reconciling love of God has been the adoption of the metaphor theōsis('divinization', 'deification') as an explanation of salvation. While central to Eastern Orthodoxy, a doctrine of theōsis also has a rich tradition within Western, especially Reformed theology. The Reformed theologian, Thomas Forsyth Torrance, represents an attempt to construct a soteriology that incorporates both Eastern and Western models of the atonement around the controlling metaphor of theōsis. A close reading of his theology presents a robust and clearly articulated doctrine of theōsis as a key way of expressing God's reconciling activity in Christ. As the true Man and the last Adam, Christ represents the archē and telos of human existence, the one in whose image all humanity has been created and into whose likeness all humanity is destined to be transformed from glory to glory. Through the Incarnation the Son becomes human without ceasing to be divine, to unite humanity and divinity together and effect a 'deification' of human nature, mediated to men and women who are said to be 'in Christ' by the work of the Holy Spirit. By means of a 'wonderful exchange' Christ takes what is ours and gives us what is his. For Torrance, this is the heart of atonement. The goal of humanity is worship, something Torrance defines as the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son's communion with the Father. The locus of worship, and thus of theōsis, is the church, the communion of saints created by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Throughout Torrance's doctrines of creation, anthropology, incarnation, reconciliation, and pneumato-ecclesiology, the concept of theōsis plays a central and constitutive role in explaining a Christian theology of salvation. Theōsis is thus foundational to Torrance's theology and is one way in which he holds together in systematic fashion his diverse theological oeuvre.
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Theology and Religious Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
vii, 387 leaves ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. University of Otago department: Theology and Religious Studies