Reader's Guide 7a. Epistemology: The integration of form

Elmer M. Colyer, "An Introductory Reader's Guide to the Published Works of T. F. Torrance," Participatio: Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship, Supplement 1 (2011): 38-63; revised online edition (#2017-EC-1).

Up: About the Reader's Guide | 7. Theological Method

Here it might be wise for those just starting out to read chapter 9, "The Integration of Form in Theology," in my book How to Read T. F. Torrance (#2001-EC-1), to at least have an overview of this vast array of topics and issues before tackling Torrance's own publications on the subject.

The best way to enter Torrance's perspective in the area of theological method may be to examine his understanding of epistemology, or how we integrate form in our knowing in general and in relation to knowing God in particular. Here it is illuminating to see Torrance's perspective on the integration of form in relation to epistemology in the main stream of Western philosophy, science, and theology, from Descartes and Newton through Hume and Kant to the contributions of Einstein and Polanyi.

Torrance's narrative of this history is not an account of how Torrance came to his epistemological convictions; it simply provides a helpful account by Torrance of his views in relation to the perspectives of other significant thinkers in this area in the modern period. Torrance has written a number of articles and chapters of books on epistemology in modern natural science, philosophy, and theology. The following is the most helpful order in which to read these various publications.

Ground and Grammar (#1980-369)
Chapter 2: Emerging from the Cultural Split (#1980-369c)

Reality and Scientific Theology (#1985-450)
Chapter 1: Classical and Modern Attitudes of Mind (#1985-450c)

Transformation and Convergence in the Frame of Knowledge (#1985-433***)
Preface (#1984-433a***)
Chapter 1: The Making of the "Modern" Mind from Descartes and Newton To Kant (#1984-433c). This is a crucial essay for understanding Torrance on this subject.
Chapter 3: The Place of Michael Polanyi in the Modern Philosophy of Science (#1984-433e)
Chapter 5: Ultimate Beliefs and the Scientific Revolution (#1984-433g)
Chapter 8: Newton, Einstein and Scientific Theology (#1984-433j)
Chapter 2: The Integration of Form in Natural Science and Theological Science (#1984-433d)

Ground and Grammar (#1980-369)
Chapter 5: Theological Science (#1980-369f)

Reality and Scientific Theology (#1985-450)
Chapter 3: The Science of God (#1985-450e)
Chapter 4: The Social Coefficient of Knowledge (#1985-450f)
This chapter, on the social coefficient, is the most important place in Torrance's publications where he deals explicitly with this topic pivotal to many aspects of this whole area of Torrance's thought on theological method, though what he says in the opening chapters of The Mediation of Christ (#1992-542) about Israel's role in mediating knowledge of God is also germane, as is his article, "The Deposit of Faith" (#1983-423).

"Theological Realism," in The Philosophical Frontiers of Christian Theology, ed. B. Hebblethwaite and S. Sutherland, 169-196. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (#1982-413).

Theological Science. London: Oxford University Press (#1969-263).
Reprinted in paperback by T&T Clark, #1996-599.
Theological Science is Torrance's first systematic account of theological science and has a lot of important material, but it does not represent the full later development of his views in the whole area of theological method. Readers should also consult God and Rationality (#1971-290; reprint, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, #1997-611), and Space, Time and Incarnation (#1969-262; reprint, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, #1997-613). These three works are an early trilogy designed to prepare the way for a rigorous scientific theology within the modern scientific context (see Torrance, God and Rationality, p. ix). Most of the chapters of God and Rationality are lectures and previously published essays. Readers interested in Torrance's early views on this subject should consult these three books first and then examine various other essays related to the subject published between 1950 and 1970.

The Christian Frame of Mind (#1989-505)
Chapter 2: The Concept of Order in Theology and Science (#1985-449c)
Chapter 3: Man, Mediator of Order (#1985-449d)
Chapter 4: Theological and Scientific Inquiry (#1989-505f)
Chapter 5: Fundamental Issues in Theology and Science (#1989-505g)
Chapter 6: Realism and Openness in Scientific Inquiry (#1989-505h)
These five chapters include material important to theological method and epistemology.

Also see Belief in Science and in Christian Life: The Relevance of Michael Polanyi's Thought for Christian Faith and Life (Edinburgh, Handsel Press, #1980-370). Torrance edited the work, writing a helpful introduction and chapter 1: "The Framework of Belief," pp. 1-27 (#1980-374).


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