In October 1944 after an assault on San Martino-Sogliano, Thomas F. Torrance, the future great Scottish Theologian and my (Jimmy) mentor, was serving as a stretcher bearer under fire when he came upon a mortally wounded 20-year-old soldier named Private Philips who was lying on the ground and clearly didn’t have much time to live.
As Torrance bent over him he said, ‘Padre, is God really like Jesus?’ Torrance assured him that he was and while he prayed with the man he passed away.
This question raised an important issue for Torrance: what had gone wrong in Christian theology that could lead someone to think in such a way that a wedge was driven between Jesus and God?
This was the damage done by natural theology because it left the impression that there was a God ‘behind the back’ of Jesus.
Years later, Torrance’s consternation was confirmed once again when an elderly lady in his parish in Aberdeen asked a similar question to that of the solder on the battlefield: ‘Dr. Torrance, is God really like Jesus?’
And again Torrance was troubled and thought to himself, ‘What have we been doing in our preaching and teaching in the church, to damage in the faith of our people the relation between their faith in Jesus Christ and God?
There is no other God behind the back of Jesus”. Jesus said of himself, “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the father”. TF Torrance
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. We tend by a secret inner law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual believer but of the company of believers that compose the congregation. ~ -A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper Collins, 1978),
Oh, taste and see that Yahweh is good! Blessed is the man who trusts in him! Psalm 34:8