My friend, evangelical Calvinist compatriot, and brother in Christ, Dr. Myk Habets’ published PhD dissertation entitled Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance published by Ashgate has a special offer associated with it (from the publisher) until the end of the year. I would highly advise you to take advantage of this offer as soon as possible (and before the end of the year). Here are the details:
My book from Ashgate on TF Torrance and theosis is going to be made available at 50% discount for all Thomas F Torrance Theological Fellowship members throughout the rest of the year, and especially at SBL/AAR. This is a very generous offer and, I hope, a way for people who don’t have the book to purchase it at a more reasonable price.
Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance. Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. x + 212 pp. [ISBN: 978-0-7546-6799-5; EISBN: 978-0-7546-9407-6] http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754667995
Ashgate will have the book on display at the AAR/SBL conference.
A special 50% discount for conference attendees and TF Torrance Theological Fellowship members is available. You may advertise the URL www.ashgate.com/torrance (not yet live) and discount code (torrance50) on the TFTTF Website etc.
So the caveat for you to take advantage of this offer is that you are either a member of the Thomas F Torrance Theological Fellowship (which is free), or that you are an attendee at this year’s AAR/SBL conference in Baltimore. Just follow the link above, and use the discount code through the Thomas F Torrance Theological Fellowship’s website.
Here is a review I did of Myk’s book some time ago; this was originally published in The Pacific Journal of Baptist Research of which Myk is the now the Senior Editor.
Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance. By Myk Habets. Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2009. 212 pp.
Myk Habets is Lecturer in Systematic Theology at Carey Baptist College, Auckland, New Zealand, and he offers a constructive look at Scottish Theologian, Thomas Forsyth Torrance’s version of a so called ‘Reformed’ Theosis. This book serves as the published version of Myk Habets’ doctoral dissertation completed at the University of Otago under the watchful eye of Ivor Davidson. Habets’ offering provides original insight into an, heretofore, undeveloped doctrine within the theological oeuvre of the celebrated career of Thomas Torrance; Habets’ summarizes the proposal of the book in this way: “The Reformed theologian, Thomas Forsyth Torrance, represents an attempt to construct a soteriology that incorporates both Eastern and Western models of the atonement around the controlling metaphor of theosis. A close reading of his theology presents a robust and clearly articulated doctrine of theosis as a key way of expressing God’s reconciling activity in Christ. As the true Man and the last Adam, Christ represents the archē and telos of human existence, the one in whose image all humanity has been created and into whose likeness all humanity is destined to be transformed from glory to glory. Through the Incarnation the Son becomes human without ceasing to be divine, to unite humanity and divinity together and effect a ‘deification’ of human nature, mediated to men and women who are said to be ‘in Christ’ by the work of the Holy Spirit. By means of a ‘wonderful exchange’ Christ takes what is ours and gives us what is his. For Torrance, this is the heart of atonement” (ix).
Habets starts with his Introduction, Approaching T.F. Torrance and the Theme of Theosis, which is necessary reading. Herein he provides preliminary definition for what theosis is, and then surveys the history of this pervasive doctrine through looking at key theologians from not just the East, which would be expected, but also the West; which becomes a bridge to Habets’ later development, insofar as Thomas Torrance is a Western theologian. Chapter 1, Creation and Theological Anthropology, enters into discussion by highlighting the import that Christology and teleology in relation to Creation play in backgrounding Torrance’s doctrine of theosis. Chapter 2, Incarnation: God Became Human, begins explicating the central foci which serve pivotal for Torrance’s theosis; that is, the Incarnation and the vicarious humanity of Christ. As Habets says, “[t]he Incarnation is redemptive and thus Christ’s entire life is an act of ‘divinisation’. Through the Word incarnate, revelation of God is given and received by means of Christ’s vicarious humanity, and union with God in Christ is made a reality” (16). Chapter 3, Partaking of the Divine Nature, serves as the touchstone for Habets’ development of Torrance’s understanding of theosis; it is here that Habets elaborates on how Torrance constructively engages a normally ‘Eastern’ understood doctrine of theosis by reifying it in a way that is both Reformed and Calvinian. Chapter 4, Community and Communion, brings together the previously developed themes of the vicarious humanity of Christ as the locus wherein the divine and the human are brought together in the person of Jesus Christ; Habets does this by identifying the role that the Holy Spirit plays in Torrance’s theology as the agent who brings humanity into union with Christ’s humanity, the ‘wonderful exchange’; it is here that ecclesiology and pneumatology are seen as central to understanding how theosis functions in Thomas Torrance’s theology. Nevertheless, it is also here where Habets is most critical of Torrance’s work; here Habets identifies a particular deficit in Torrance’s emphasis upon the Spirit’s work, “Had Torrance taken greater care to explain the relationship between the Spirit and Christ during Christ’s earthly ministry . . . he would have been able to apply this more directly to the Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life of the believer in these in-between times as we await the glorious return of the risen Christ. Unfortunately, such a discussion is absent and students of Torrance are left to work out such a practical theology for themselves” (191). Nevertheless, Habets believes that Torrance leaves a wealth of resource for his students, in constructive and fruitful ways. Habets concludes his work, Conclusion: The ‘Danger of Vertigo’?, by bringing together the heretofore developed threads into a constructive whole which provides critical ground from whence future Thomas Torrance students can fruitfully engage Torrance’s Reformed doctrine of theosis. Habets is clear that Torrance, himself, was not altogether “critical” in developing his doctrine of theosis; nevertheless, Habets believes, that through his reconstruction, he has established the reality that Thomas Torrance clearly offers the Christian (and Western) Church a thorough-going (albeit, revamped) doctrine of theosis to be critically engaged by Thomas Torrance and Reformed scholars alike (198).
Here I offer a few points of reflection. First, Myk Habets’ writing style is precise, cogent, and accessible. He writes for the scholar in this book, but also for the seminary student, and even the thoughtful lay person. Second, Habets offers a compelling case for the belief that at least for one ‘Western’ theologian, Thomas Torrance, there is an actual doctrine (not just theme) of theosis articulated; and while it has Reformed pedigree, it potentially provides ecumenical resource for Eastern and Western Christians alike. Third, Habets provides substantial bibliographic and index material in the end matter of the book that should serve those interested in further research in this area. Fourth, overall, Habets’ approach is measured in tone; and while he is highly appreciative of Thomas Torrance’s theosis, this does not cloud Habets ability to engage Torrance on critical ground. Habets holds his appreciation and criticism of Torrance with a charitable balance on either side.
The only critique I might offer would take the reader back to the Introduction. For myself I did not find this problematic, but I think some may desire more development in regards to the proposed doctrines of theosis present amongst the various theologians surveyed, by Habets. Though, since this section of the book only serves as preliminary and somewhat suggestive to Habets later work; I do not find this to ultimately be a substantial weakness. Others may disagree; they will have to read the book to find out.
I highly recommend this book for scholars, Seminary and Bible College students, and the highly motivated lay person in the Church. Myk Habets offers the Church of Jesus Christ a service by unearthing a rich doctrine of Reformed theosis from the English speaking, Scottish born theologian, par excellence, Thomas Torrance.
Co-editor of Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church. Eds. Myk Habets and Bobby Grow. Foreword by Alasdair Heron. Eugene, OR.: Pickwick Publications (2012).