Person, personhood and the humanity of Christ: Christocentric anthropology and ethics in Thomas F. Torrance
This thesis explores and presents Torrance’s Christocentric view of anthropology and ethics in an integrated and systematic way. It reveals and argues, contrary to most scholarship, that Torrance does in fact address and develop horizontal and practical considerations and implications in his anthropology and ethics. In the utilisation of wide-ranging theological, philosophical and scientific knowledge and epistemologies, Torrance profoundly articulates his thoughts about human existence as persons in relation, the onto-relationality of trinitarian personhood as the ontological foundation of the human person and personhood, and the humanity of Christ as the linchpin for personalisation or humanisation and its resulting new moral life, order and relations that have a reconciling and transforming impact on human social existence. This thesis argues that Torrance’s Christocentric focus in his anthropology and ethics should be considered as a corrective to the Christological deficiencies of social trinitarianism. When social trinitarians draw heavily upon the ontology of persons, the personal and relational attributes of the divine persons and their perichoretic communion for ethical visions in social, political and ecclesial realms, there is an inadequacy of Christological reasoning with regard to our inability to know the triune God and participate in his communion. By contrast, Torrance not only articulates the epistemic and ontological significance of Christ in human knowledge of and participation in God, but also the way in which our ‘dehumanisation’ was/is personalised in the humanity of Christ, the personalising person, humanising man, so that a new humanity for true relations with God and other fellow humans is ethically established. In order to consider the practicality of Torrance’s theology and its validity and effectiveness in this context, this thesis examines: (1) Torrance’s wide-ranging epistemological uses in arguing for the onto-relational characteristic of the concept of person; (2) the ontorelationality of trinitarian personhood in a discussion about the homoousion and perichoresis through a critical dialogue with Moltmann, Zizioulas and other social trinitarians; (3) the humanity of Christ as the hinge in the onto-relational restoration of the human person and personhood, that is, personalisation and its resulting new moral life/order and social relations; (4) the sacramental and diaconal action of the church as the outworking of Christ’s new humanity.