Repentance in T. F. Torrance's Scientific Theology: A study of the inner logic of his theological method and its origins

Simon Russell-Brown

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Over the course of his career T. F. Torrance gave sustained attention to the idea of a scientific approach to theology. Though he had planned to be a missionary, at age twenty-five Torrance found himself lecturing at Auburn Theological Seminary in upstate New York. One of the subjects he chose to lecture on was “Theology and Science”. Months later he successfully applied for a job at Princeton University after indicating his intention to teach theology as a science. At age fifty-six he published Theological Science—a book he considered one of his most important works—and at age seventy-two he published Reality and Scientific Theology. For the duration of his career Torrance occupied himself with this topic. Indeed, his writings on the matter won him the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1978. This thesis argues that the aim of Torrance’s scientific theology is to justify a call to repentance. By scientific theology Torrance means an approach to theology that can be defended as methodologically rigorous and apposite to its subject matter. By repentance Torrance means not only an intellectual humility in which unwarranted presuppositions are surrendered in fidelity to theology’s divine subject matter, but also a volitional humility in which one’s whole self is surrendered in fidelity to God. For Torrance, repentance is a methodological requirement in theology—to repent is the most scientific way to approach God. Thus, by arguing that theology be conducted scientifically Torrance argues for his audience’s repentance, and by this approach he fulfils his desire to be a missionary, albeit to the academy. This thesis demonstrates the validity of this interpretation of Torrance by analysing both the content of his theological method and its origins.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Neville, David, Principal Supervisor
  • Meyer, Ockert, Co-Supervisor
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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