the rationality of Christ’s universe

The vexed relationship between theology and science has been thrust before my attention again recently.

A big contributing factor has been reading a very perplexing piece by T. F. Torrance. Perplexing not because of his typically tortuous style — and unnecessarily long sentences. But because of what he makes of the trinitarian doctrine enshrined in the fourth century creeds.

Torrance insists that we recognise that the way God makes Himself known to us in Jesus and the gift of the Spirit is who He really is. The threeness of God doesn’t ‘float’ on His underlying oneness. Rather it constitutes it in the depths of His being in eternity.

Yet Torrance goes further. He stretches this gospel-derived confidence that we really know God — as He really is and not just as He appears to be — to the extent that it underwrites a confident realism when it comes to our ability to know the world as it really is (and not just as it appears to be). For Torrance, the identity (of being) of Christ with the Father points to the rationality of the universe.

But something about this niggles… In short: Where’s the cross?

The Alexamenos Graffito (mocking the stupidity of worshipping the crucified God)

The Alexamenos Graffito (mocking the stupidity of worshipping the crucified God)

If the revelation of God occurs at that moment at which in blood and pain and humiliation the world crucifies the Lord of glory, doesn’t that place a question mark over our (unaided) ability to access reality?

If God’s truth is hidden in a mystery, does that undercut the kind of confidence Torrance wants to instil?

What spin does it put on the rationality of a universe that God rules from the tree?


  1. I like the way you think. I would say that we can’t truly interpret the world without the Word of God. But although the cross is at the centre of reality, it is not the only revelation.

    Here’s a meditation I wrote on the relation of the Last Supper elements to the nature of the universe. Might seem a bit bizarre, but it works for me:

    “Adam wasn’t ready for kingdom wine. It was a greater generation, Noah’s, who drank wine before God in a new land.

    In the wilderness, Israel was betrothed to God by Covenant, and fed with miraculous bread. A huge haul of grapes brought a promise of wine, but they also weren’t ready for it. It was a greater generation which drank wine before God in a new land.

    The bread of obedient priesthood was always a betrothal, a promise of ascension from silent servanthood to a rowdy royal wedding reception at the Lord’s table – Canaan.

    God always divides, fills and reunites. The Communion bread and wine must be given separately. Christ’s body was divided from His blood. We are filled, and His body and blood are reunited—put back together again—in us. As we partake, we, Greater Eve, fulfill His resurrection as His body, a holy army (Ezekiel 37; John 12:24).

    In the two trees, Life and Wisdom, bread and wine, priest and king, flesh and blood, Land and Sea, earth and heaven, the Lord presented Adam with a divided world. The only way it could be united was through obedience. If he obeyed the Father’s will, he would eat the bread (Tree of Life), then drink the wine (Tree of Wisdom), and the divided world would be united first in his own body. But Adam refused to “die.”

    By obedience, Greater Adam became a Tree of Life (Table of Showbread), then a Watcher Tree (Lampstand) uniting earth with heaven, and over the next 40 years, Land and Sea (Jew and Gentile).

    Jesus united Jachin and Boaz, these two trees, in His body, through His sacrifice in the Garden. But on earth, there is still work to do, so we are given the last supper elements separately. We are one, but the World God has given us to dominate is not. Dominion begins with bread and wine as separate elements until the entire world, through our sacrifice, becomes a Holy Place.”

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