Thomas F. Torrance: Are You Wrestling with the Mystery?

Feast of Hesperos & Zoe the Righteous

Torrance_Square_2.jpgWE KNOW CHRIST by acknowledging him, by confessing him as Lord and God. In other words, in knowing Christ, we acknowledge that what confronts us is revelation, revelation that tells us that here is true man and true God. The very mystery we acknowledge in knowing him, that we human beings know God, we see to repose in the mystery of the person of Christ, the mystery that in some indescribable and inconceivable way which we cannot explain or understand out of our own knowledge, he is God, and very God, and yet man and very man: God and man become one person. We know Christ in the mystery of that duality in unity. That is the starting point for a true Christology—and that is precisely where the witness of the New Testament faces us, face to face with Christ in his wholeness as God and man. We begin right there, with that witness to Christ, and with the fact that Jesus Christ himself confronts us in that witness as God and man in one person. Our theological task is to begin with awareness and acknowledgement of that mystery as the actual object which we seek to know theologically. That is, we seek to clarify our knowledge of this mystery—but if we are to be truth and faithful to it, if we are to be scientific and rational, that is, behave in terms of the nature of this mystery that confronts us, we must not begin by denying its mystery character or by transmuting it into something non-mysterious. We have to stand by it and acknowledge that though the very nature of the object of our knowing defies complete solution or explanation, we cannot drop the problem or run away from it. We must wrestle with it, inquire of it, be obedient to it, and seek in every way to let it declare itself to us, so that we may grow in understanding of it. Whatever we do, we must be faithful to the actual facts, and never allow preconceived notions or theories to cut away some of the facts at the start because we cannot understand them in terms of what we already know or hold to be possible. The ultimate fact that confronts us, embedded in history and in the historical witness and proclamation of the New Testament, is the mysterious duality in unity of Jesus Christ, God without reserve, man without reserve, the eternal truth in time, the Word of God made flesh.

—T. F.  Torrance, Incarnation

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