On Founding Theological Statements upon Actualities

(c) There is still a basic problem to be faced. Because our theological statements are on this side of ultimate Truth and belong to the world of relativity, is there not an unbridgeable gulf between them and the ultimate Truth to which they claim to refer? By claiming to refer to the ultimate Truth are they not thereby positing a discrepancy between themselves as statements and the ultimate Truth, which if taken seriously as is intended, would actually mean the end of all theology? How can this-worldly or intra-mundane statements actually refer to what is utterly beyond them? The difficulty about that question, of course, is that it is asked in abstraction from our actual knowledge and runs into contradictions. The question cannot be answered, therefore, in that form, but there is a problem here that is not to be avoided. What our actual knowledge does tell us is that ultimate Truth meets us on this side of that chasm within our mundane experience, where it is accessible to us and amenable to our statements. Therefore we have to think theological Truth, and think it out from its own real centre on this side where it has established itself. It is impossible for us on our own to find a way of thinking the infinite in conjunction with the finite for we cannot bring that conjunction about. The question as to the truthfulness of our statements cannot be answered, therefore, in abstraction from the Truth and its activity toward us, for everything depends upon the nature and activity of the Truth itself and not simply upon how it is conceived in our thinking. Knowledge of it can be verified only on its own ground.

-Thomas F. Torrance, Theological Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 145-145.


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