The Indispensable Presupposition of Theological Knowledge upon which Christian Theology Stands or Falls

It is thus in the historical actuality of Jesus Christ, very God and very Man, as the Creed speaks of Him, that the possibility of our knowledge of God is rooted. In Him and through Him God has actually become known by man. Now this means that in Jesus Christ God has broken into the closed circle of our inability and inadequacy, and estrangement and self-will, and within our alien condition has achieved and established real knowledge of Himself. It is in the freedom of God to do that, and in the fact that God actually has done that, that our knowledge of Him is grounded–that is, in His condescension to enter within our creaturely frailty and incompetence and so to realize knowledge of Himself from within our mode of existence, in the incarnate Son. We do no first have to achieve this knowledge, we do not even have to achieve the appropriation of it which first actualizes it within our creaturely existence, for that has already been achieved for us in Christ, and in Him we may now freely participate in the knowledge of God as an actuality already translated and made accessible for us by His grace. Thus our freedom in knowing and appropriating the truth is grounded in the objective freedom of God, and our decision for the truth is grounded in the objective and decisive act of God made on our behalf in the whole historical fact of Christ. We find and know God where He has sought us and condescended to communicate Himself, in His objectivity in Jesus Christ. We cannot seek to know Him by transcending His condescension or objectivity, or by going behind it, for that would be to go where God has not given Himself to be the object of our knowledge. We can only know God in His self-objectification for us, not by seeking non-objective knowledge of Him. This then is the given fact, the indispensable presupposition of theological knowledge, and with which Christian theology stands or falls, that God Himself, the only God, the living and true God, has condescended to enter within our creaturely and contingent existence, to objectify Himself for us there in Jesus Christ, so that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Live, in whom and through whom alone we go to the Father, and by reference to whom alone we have truth knowledge of God.

-Thomas F. Torrance, Theological Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 51-52.


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