Clarity is a Virtue | Alan J. Torrance
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Grant Title:
God, Personhood, Time and Forgiveness
Legal Organization:
University of St Andrews
Project Dates:
Start Date: 01 June 2017
End Date: 31 May 2020
Grant Amount:

What if religions made use of the skills, resources, and virtues of analytic philosophy to illumine theology? The Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology, based at the University of St Andrews, is bringing together leading experts in analytic philosophy, Biblical studies, theology, and the natural sciences to address i) the relationship of the eternal God to time; ii) the justification for and the significance of the Christian vision of forgiveness; iii) the nature of the person and personal identity; and iv) the significance of the Christian doctrine of the incarnation for understanding the uniqueness of humanity in a vast universe and also its sense of purpose.

According to Oliver D. Crisp, “Analytic Theology as Systematic Theology is a way of doing Systematic Theology that utilizes the tools and methods of contemporary analytic philosophy for the purposes of constructive Christian theology, paying attention to the Christian tradition and development of doctrine.” Click to read the full article>>

A New Movement in Theology

The forms of engagement the Logos Institute encourages are not easy. Scholars are often reluctant to listen to, or indeed respect, the voices of other disciplines as much as the familiar voices within their own. This is especially the case when those from another discipline are perceived as challenging established beliefs and practices. When this happens, it can be enormously tempting for scholars to withdraw into the comfortable echo chambers of their own fields.

"What analytic theology is seeking to do is address the truth question." – Alan J. Torrance

What’s exciting about the Logos Institute is the opportunity to witness the good work that can be achieved when theologians engage with contemporary Biblical scholarship and analytic philosophy. The latter two fields have witnessed a sea change during the past forty years. There is everything to be gained when theologians not only learn from these developments, but also are enabled to contribute to the critically important research within these fields.

"There are few places in the world where a project this daring and creative could even be imagined; fewer still where it could be brought to birth." — N. T. Wright

Logos: The Word of God

The term “Logos” is Greek for “word” and in the Christian tradition is used by the author of John’s gospel to refer to the incarnation. Staying true to its name, the Logos Institute aims to explore the central theological message of Christianity through collaboration with systematic theologians, Biblical scholars, and analytic philosophers.

God and Time

How is God to be understood in relation to space and time? The Logos Institute explores different ways in which scholars have considered God’s engagement with humanity in space- time. It addresses a series of relevant philosophical, theological, hermeneutical and scientific issues in which there has been theological confusion in the contemporary debate.

Personhood and Human Identity

On this topic, the Logos Institute considers how the concept of the person should and can be used to refer to both God and humanity. To do so, it engages with questions such as: What does it mean for human beings to reflect the image of God? Are human beings unique and, if so, in what way? What does it mean to talk about God as three persons? How can the one person of Jesus Christ be both divine and human?

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

In the teachings of Jesus, we find forgiveness as the means of achieving peace and reconciliation. As human beings created in the image of God, Christian teachings call us to reflect God’s forgiveness. The Logos Institute explores the practical expression of forgiveness as a means of achieving peace in contexts of social dysfunction.

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Since its inception, the Logos Institute has advanced important interdisciplinary conversations about “God and Time,” “Personhood and Human Identity,” and “Forgiveness and Reconciliation.” It has convened philosophers, theologians, biblical scholars, and scientists, in a form of discussion which is all too rare in today’s world. It has engaged the academic world as well as advanced these conversations through its numerous publications.

The Logos Institute seeks to serve the academy, the Church, and society in general in finding ways to address contemporary challenges. A key way it does this is by enabling gifted students from throughout the world to pursue postgraduate and doctoral research into these key questions while benefitting from the rigorous, interdisciplinary expertise on offer.

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