Stoyan Tanev, "The Concept of Energy in T. F. Torrance and in Orthodox Theology," Participatio 4, "T. F. Torrance and Eastern Orthodoxy" (2013): 190-212
Tanev, Stoyan. "The Concept of Energy in T. F. Torrance and in Orthodox Theology." Participatio 4, "T. F. Torrance and Eastern Orthodoxy" (2013): 190-212
The motivation for this paper is fourfold: (1) to emphasize the fact that the teaching on the distinction between Divine essence and energies is an integral part of Orthodox theology; (2) to provide an analysis of why Torrance did not adhere to it; (3) to correct certain erroneous perceptions regarding Orthodox theology put forward by scholars who have already discussed Torrance’s view on the essence-energies distinction in its relation to deification or theosis; and finally (4) to suggest an analysis demonstrating the correlation between Torrance’s engagements with particular themes in modern physics and the content of his theological positions. This last analysis is made by comparing his scientific theological approach to the approach of Christos Yannaras. The comparison provides an opportunity to demonstrate the correlation between their preoccupations with specific themes in modern physics and their specific theological insights. Thomas Torrance has clearly neglected the epistemological insights emerging from the advances of quantum mechanics in the 20th century and has ended up neglecting the value of the Orthodox teaching on the distinction between Divine essence and energies. This neglect seems to be associated with his specific pre-Chalcedonian understanding of person/prosopon/hypostasis. As a result, he has expressed opinions that contradict the apophatic character of the distinction between Divine essence and energies and the subtlety of the apophatic realism of Divine-human communion. The conclusion offers a very brief comparison of some of Torrance’s key theological ideas with the ideas of two Orthodox theologians - Metr. John Ziziuolas and Fr. Dumitru Staniloae. It is suggested that the discussion of Torrance's specific theological positions, including his critique of the distinction between Divine essence and energies, should be considered as a fruitful resource in some of the ongoing Orthodox theological discussions.