Feast of St Nicephorus, Archbishop of Constantinople
WHAT DOES Jerusalem have to do with Athens?” Tertullian famously asked, setting forth the perennial debate between faith (Jerusalem) and reason (Athens). Edinburgh, the capital of High Scottish Calvinism, and Constantinople, ‘the Second Rome’, for centuries the seat of eastern Orthodox Christianity, could not seem further apart. They stand powerfully for the differences between Protestant Reformed Christianity that came to Scotland through John Calvin’s student John Knox and the centuries old tradition of eastern Christendom, and the Orthodox Church, which developed its own theological tradition so different from the west. When it comes to issues of the relationship between divine agency and human agency in salvation, their answers would seem to have different emphases, the one monergist (God finally does it all), the other synergist (co-operation is involved). T. F. Torrance (1913-2007) was a Scottish Reformed theologian of the twentieth century well known for his study of the eastern fathers such as Athanasius, and his conversation with Orthodox theologians, striving for Christian unity. Does he present a way of conversation forward, bringing together Reformed theology with the eastern fathers, such as his enthusiasm for theosis (‘deification’), and therefore with Reformed Christians and eastern Orthodox Christians today? Or is he really the most obvious monergist of all when he says that “Jesus Christ is our human response,” his doctrine of the vicarious humanity of Christ? We will discuss how these themes encounter knowledge of the triune God and creation, justification by grace, union with Christ, the hypostatic union of the deity and humanity of Christ, participation by faith through the Spirit in the church, and the problem of universalism.
Christian D. Kettler is Professor of Theology and Religion at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, where he has been on the faculty since 1987. A native of Wichita, Dr. Kettler received his B.A. from Friends University and the degrees M.A., M.Div., and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary under Ray S. Anderson and Geoffrey W. Bromiley. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), preaches regularly at the Church of the Savior in Wichita, and is a past president of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship. Kettler is the author of The Vicarious Humanity of Christ and the Reality of Salvation (University Press of America, 1991), The God Who Believes: Faith, Doubt, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ (2005), The God Who Rejoices: Joy, Despair, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ (2010), Reading Ray S. Anderson: Theology as Ministry and Ministry as Theology (2010), The Breadth and Depth of the Atonement: The Vicarious Humanity of Christ in the Church, the World, and the Self (2017), and co-editor (with Todd H. Speidell) of Incarnational Ministry: The Presence of Christ in Church, Society, and Family: Essays in Honor of Ray S. Anderson (Helmers and Howard, 1990). He was awarded the W.A. Young Award for Excellence in Teaching at Friends University in 1999. Kettler lives in Wichita and is owned by two Siamese cats, Linus and Lucy.