2008 Letter from the President


Dear Members of the T. F . Torrance Fellowship,

As you know by now I was elected as the new President of the T. F. Torrance Fellowship at our meeting last November in San Diego. I am very much looking forward to working together with the Executive Board toward making our Fellowship an even stronger scholarly group, guided by the important theology of T. F. Torrance as we reflect on the challenges we face both theologically and humanly in the months and years ahead.

I have been reading T. F. Torrance since the early 1980's when I first read Reality and Evangelical Theology. I remember at the time someone asked me if there was any contemporary theologian whose views were consistently theological and did not slip into the errors of idealism and existentialism. I responded at once that I thought T. F. Torrance was one of the few that I was aware of. He had never heard of Torrance. Fortunately, over the last several years more and more people have become aware of T. F. Torrance's theology and the great contribution his thinking offers to anyone seriously interested in theology today. Since that time of course I have read most of Torrance's writings and have read and reread his two magnificent books on the Trinity. He once said to me that people find his writing difficult to grasp. I remember that I told him that I found his writing refreshingly direct and compelling. He seemed delighted, if not totally convinced! I first met T. F. Torrance when, through the good offices of his son, lain, I was able to get him to come to St. John's to speak about Einstein and God. In February, 1997 he spoke at Princeton, St. John's and Yale. That was his last visit to the United States. We had many wonderful discussions during that visit. It was a real treat to get to know someone whom I had admired for so many years from afar. I met with him once again at his home in Edinburgh in March 1999 and we spent several hours discussing theology. I was convinced then and remain convinced today that T. F. Torrance was and will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the twentieth century. Along with Karl Barth he is certainly the most important theologian of the later half of the twentieth century.

Those of you who know me know that I received my Ph.D. in contemporary systematic theology from Fordham University, Bronx, New York in 1980. My dissertation was entitled : "A Critical Examination of the Relationship between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Doctrine of God in the Theology of Karl Barth and of Karl Rahner." Since then I have been teaching at St. John's University in New York (1981- present) and at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia (1983-4). I have published extensively on the theology of Barth, Rahner, Pannenberg, Torrance, Moltmann and others. And I have published three books, Karl Barth and the Theology of the Lord's Supper (Peter Lang, 1996), Divine Freedom and the Doctrine of the Immanent Trinity (T & T Clark, 2002/2005) and Incarnation and Resurrection (Eerdmans, 2007). 1 am finishing a book entitled T F Torrance: Theologian of the Trinity (Ashgate) which I hope to have completed in the next several months.

Now that I have introduced myself let me briefly explain what we are planning for the Fall. Our meeting in Chicago as a Related Scholarly Organization affiliated with the AAR will take place in the afternoon. I will let you know the exact details when they are available. To my knowledge we have never met before on Halloween and probably never will again! Our speaker this year will be George Hunsinger of Princeton Theological Seminary, who has graciously agreed to speak to us about T. F. Torrance's sacramental theology. This should be an exciting meeting since George has described Torrance's sacramental theology as "the most creative Reformed breakthrough on the sacraments in twentieth-century theology, and arguably the most important Reformed statement since Calvin"! And he himself dedicates his new book, The Eucharist and Ecumenism : Let Us Keep the Feast (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press) to T. F. Torrance noting that, of all the many important influences that led him to write his book with a view toward ecumenical agreement on the Eucharist, T. F. Torrance towered above them all in providing him with many of the important themes that helped him move "from Karl Barth to something like the Catholic Evangelical Orthodox center" in his thinking about the sacrament of the Eucharist.

We had some discussion about whether or not we should move our meeting to the SBL from the AAR. Right now we are sticking with the AAR. And perhaps that is how it will stay since the two organizations will be united once again in just another couple of years. We will discuss this further at our Business Meeting in the Fall. Of course I welcome any suggestions in the meantime.

Todd Speidel will be the Editor of our online journal. As you know there is a blog in operation for members of the Fellowship. And, as you may also know, Intervarsity Press is planning to launch its first volume on Torrance's Christology at the SBL meeting in Boston later in November. George Hunsinger has once again graciously agreed to say a few words at the book launch as well. More details will be forthcoming later in the year.

For now I hope that al I of you enjoy a smooth end to this semester and some warm spring weather.

All best wishes,

Paul Molnar
President, T. F. Torrance Fellowship
April 2, 2008

Thomas F Torrance

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A distinctively Christian research organization devoted to the exploration, development, and dissemination of the theology of Thomas F. Torrance and other theologians contributing to this endeavor. Continued...

 
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