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Divine and Contingent Order

, 1981
ISBN: 9780567043214

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This volume examines the implications of the Judaeo-Christian claim for our understanding of the universe that it is contingent: freely created by God out of nothing, and having an existence, freedom, and rational order of its own while still dependent on Him.

Professor Torrance argues that this claim made possible the development of western empirical science. However, Newtonian physics obscured the connection between the rational order of nature and the Christian doctrine of creation. Torrance shows how modern relativity and quantum theories have once again drawn attention to the significance of contingence. This implies the universe is found to be consistently rational only if it is dependent on a creative rationality beyond it.

Torrance considers finally the disorderly elements in the universe, both physical and moral, and argues that the doctrine of incarnation as well as of creation is necessary to deal with the intellectual problems which they raise.

Resource Experts
  • Detailed explanation of determinist theology
  • Sound defense for creation and the Creator.
  • Automatic footnotes when referenced.

Top Highlights

“The rationality of man and the rationality of the created universe belong inseparably together” (Page 3)

“One God, the Father Almighty, is the Creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible, while the incarnate Son or Logos, through whom all things were made and in whom they hold together, is the central and creative source of all order and rationality within the created universe.” (Page 2)

“On the contrary, while God is serene and tranquil in the face of any disturbance, trouble, or hurt that may arise in the universe, he is nevertheless the living, self-moving God who is in his own fullness a communion of love, who though he is not eternally Creator was free to become the Creator of all things visible and invisible. In the incarnation God was free to do something new even for himself, for he was not eternally incarnate, and free to move outside of himself as he became incarnate, without being other than himself.” (Page 6)

“The actual situation is this: evil would present no problem to us at all—we would not even be aware of it—if there were no objective and coherent rational order, for what ‘constitutes’ evil ‘evil’ is its contradiction of objective order on the one hand and its negation by that objective order on the other hand. Evil rises up and confronts us, disturbing and entangling us in its strange impossible actuality. How are we to understand it, or rather, how are we really to understand the understanding we already have of it?” (Page 114)

“That is another way of saying that the independence of the universe is both grounded in and limited by its radical dependence.” (Page 36)

  • Title: Divine and Contingent Order
  • Author: Thomas F. Torrance
  • Publisher: T & T Clark
  • Publication Date: 1981
  • Pages: 176
Thomas F. Torrance

Thomas F. Torrance (August 30,1913–December 2, 2007) was a Protestant Christian theologian and professor of Christian dogmatics for 27 years at the University of Edinburgh. Torrance was influential in the dialogue between science and theology.

He began studying in Edinburgh in 1931, focusing on classics and philosophy. At that time his own realist views of philosophy, theology, and morality started to develop, and they continued to do so as he moved to the study of theology at the Faculty of Divinity in 1934. From 1939 to 1940 Torrance studied at Oriel College, Oxford. He was ordained as minister on March 20, 1940.

He has authored several works, including Divine and Contingent OrderGround and Grammar of Theology, and The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons. Besides writing many books and articles, Torrance also translated several hundred theological writings into English from other languages, including the thirteen-volume, six-million-word Church Dogmatics of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (co-edited with G.W. Bromiley).



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Digital list price: $25.99
Save $7.00 (26%)