Monday, January 28, 2008


I've had several "aha! moments" lately, the most recent about my conversation partners' theological epistemology (a term favoured by Steve Sherman in his Revitalizing Theological Epistemology, a review copy of which I've just received from the good folks at Pickwick/Wipf & Stock). In the last chapter of God, the Mind's Desire, Paul Janz, following Bonhoeffer's designations, rightly points out that the issue for theologians thinking about the relationship between knowing God and knowing generally is what to make of the line between penultimacy and ultimacy. In my terms--if there is a door between the realm of knowing (about) God through human reason and knowing God by grace alone, is its purpose to keep people out or invite people in? I know what I would answer, based on Jesus' claim, "I am the door."
Ronald Thiemann in Revelation and Theology is critical of Torrance's foundationalist epistemology, claiming that its dependence on revelation defined as God-given, immediate, intuitive knowledge of God undermines his efforts to make theology a scientific pursuit. I think he has made some unwarranted assumptions and thus misunderstood Torrance, but he is basically right on some important scores. Torrance does seem to be inconsistent, read in a modernist framework that takes as its credo "knowledge = justified true belief." What Thiemann's criticism made me realize, though, is that Torrance nowhere grants that; he approaches knowledge of God/knowledge generally in a completely different way--and it dawned on me yesterday that the way he sees the relationship is analogical. More on that later--time to head off to work.

No comments: