Thinking About Natural Theology

In the previous post I laid out the basic Barthian line of thought on natural theology – here is T.F. Torrance to break it down a bit further:

‘So it is with natural theology: brought within the embrace of positive theology and developed as a complex of rational structures arising in our actual knowledge of God it becomes “natural” in a new way, natural to its proper object, God in self-revealing interaction with us in space and time. Natural theolog then constitutes the epistemological “geometry” as it were, within the fabric of “revealed theology” as it apprehended and articulated within the objectivites and intelligibilites of the space-time medium through which God has made himself known to us. As such, however, natural theology has no independent status but is the pliant conceptual instrument which Christian theology uses in unfolding and expressing the concept of real knowledge of God through modes of human thought and speech hat are made rigorously appropriate to his self-revelation to mankind.’ (T.F. Torrance, ‘Reality and Scientific Theology’, p. 39)

Right. So basically what Torrance is saying that natural theology, insofar as it will bring us to real, intimate, relational knowledge of the living God, has to be based in actual concrete Christian experience. Apart from actual communion with God, natural theology (in Torrance’s view) is both the product of and leads to a harmful deism. So, then, contrary to the bulk of natural theology as classically understood, natural theology isn’t a preamble to faith but depends on faith to be any kind of meaningful enterprise

2 thoughts on “Thinking About Natural Theology

  1. Chris Falter September 25, 2013 / 1:45 pm

    Hmm….natural theology is the Calabi-Yau manifold that underlies the quantum wave functions of revealed theology! With I had thought of that myself.

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