Separatism is a function of the knowledge of the dualist, knowledge of good and evil mindset that produced Arianism and the supposition that Jesus Christ was separate to God and less than God. This heresy was put to bed by the council of Nicaea (325 AD) but has sleep-walked in various attitudes and sects ever since. Law-centered theologies separate God from God and humans from ourselves, by postulating the law as an abstraction that is separate to the trinity and separate to us as human beings.
Jesus makes the two one in every way.
Trinitarian theology is perichoretic and incarnational which heals our being by enfolding us in the oneness of God in Jesus Christ. The law separates us from God and from ourselves. Believers imprisoned in legalistic theologies might be surprised at the contention that neither the law or a focus on good versus evil is the issue between God and people. God’s issue is the fulfilment of The Plan by God, for God to enjoy the company of sons and daughters made in His own likeness and passion for life.
‘God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan’ Eph 1.9-11 NIV.
The issue of life is our trinitarian God and God’s enterprise in reaching out to enfold us in Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. The result of God’s enterprise is separation undone and re-union with God achieved. But a re-union in Christ that is closer than the original relationship between Adam and Eve and God. In Jesus Christ we are interwoven into God.
THE MEDIATION OF CHRIST
Thomas F Torrance is generally considered to have been one of the most significant theologians writing in English during the twentieth century. His theological method and all his major doctrinal views were shaped by his understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. No theologian in the second half of the twentieth century made a greater contribution to Nicene christianity than T. F. Torrance. ‘Nicene Christianity’ is significant because it is synonymous with the doctrine of Jesus and the apostles. If we would know the difference between Christ’s Gospel and ‘Other Gospels’ we would do well to familiarise ourselves with the doctrine of the Church Fathers and Reformed theology.
Paul Molnar observes of Torrance that “His view of scripture was both christ-centered and opposed to any crude fundamentalism. Indeed, his mother had given him a copy of Barth’s Credo that encouraged him to oppose not only rationalistic liberalism but fundamentalism and deterministic sorts of Calvinism as well.” (1) The unintended consequence of fundamentalism is the letter than kills. It misses the fact that our eternal life is a state of being – of being one with God.
The substance of salvation must not be interpreted in ‘the letter’.
OUR BEING IN CHRIST
For Torrance, fundamentalist assumptions were not the mode of Biblical interpretation and neither should they be ours. Not only are context and author’s intent relevant but even more germane is the fact that we are not just reading words but have entered into communion with the Living Word and the state of being that this implies. One of the most bizarre assumption to afflict the proper reading of the word of God is the belief that Jesus came to purvey among us a more successful form of legalism.
Molnar further notes, “It is certainly not too much to say that Torrance became a lifelong opponent of subjectivism because such an approach to objective knowledge essentially cut one off from the truth as it exists independent of the subject.” (2) Those raised in a culture of fundamentalism might note here that fundamentalist legalisms, apart from their dualism, cut one off from the essence of who God is and who we are as sons and daughters of God.
Torrance wrote his doctoral thesis on ‘The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers’. Here grace is a quality of God and in fact is God, revealed in the act of God in Jesus Christ. Torrance always emphasised the fact that “one cannot really understand the person of Christ apart from his work and also emphasizing that what God reveals in christ and the way in which he reveals it can never be separated.” (3) So much for the supposed entity of the law rearing up behind God’s back as an abstraction different to Himself as Person and Communion.
ONE WITH FATHER
In Torrance’s theology, Jesus Christ was never separate from God because He in fact was God in the same substance as the Father. He believed theology should reject subordinationism and stick to the teaching of Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzen and Cyril of Alexandria and admit that the spirit proceeds from the being of the Father and not just the person of the Father and thus through the Son.’ (4)
CHRIST YOUR GRACE
According to Torrance, Grace was not just a word, not an abstraction or empowerment. Grace was God revealed in Jesus Christ among us and with us then and today in our lives. He wrote, “Christ himself is the objective ground and content of charis in every instance of its special Christian use … [in the New Testament] charis refers to the being and action of God as revealed and actualised in Jesus christ, for he is in his person and work the self-giving of God to men … Grace is in fact identical with Jesus christ in person and word and deed … neither the action nor the gift is separable from the person of the giver.”
Grace is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is in you, gracing you to express Himself as your life.
(1) Paul Molnar, Thomas F. Torrance, St John’s University, New York, USA, 2009. P 4. (2) Ibid p.5 (3) Ibid p. 7. (4) Ibid. p.8.