NO HUMBUG SPIRITUALITY
If our theology is to be legitimate it needs to be Reformed Theology. This means it is based on grace from first to last and does not promote a gospel of the kind that starts with Christ and ends with the law. The beauty of Torrance’s theology is that it is Christ’s theology. It is reformed and begins with Christ and ends in the incarnation, which in everyday talk means Christ expressed as us.
Thomas Torrance is one of the most significant theologians of this Gospel of the Kingdom in modern times, since His teaching is informed by the scriptures, the Church Father’s, Reformed Theology and experience in the mission field. Some of His prominent works are The Mediation of Christ, The Christian Doctrine of God and The Trinitarian Faith – the Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church.
ROOTED IN LIFE
Bruce Ritchie observes that, ‘Of all twentieth-century Scottish theologians, Thomas Forsyth Torrance has had, and continues to have, the greatest academic impact on a global scale. Others have gained international reputations, and James Denney, John MacLeod, P. T. Forsyth, Donald and John Baillie, Hugh Ross Mackintosh, Ronald Gregor Smith, William Barclay, Donald MacLeod, Sinclair Ferguson, to name but a few, loom large. However, Torrance is the scholar who is studied most worldwide; and, as the twenty-first century unfolds, interest in all aspects of his theology is increasing.” (1)
Torrance’s Theology is a meta-theology in that it is based on the state of being that Jesus Christ brought to the world in Himself and which Jesus continues to reveal as ‘this Gospel of the Kingdom’ as a corrective to decayed christianity and as a presentation of the riches of our inheritance that may have never been fully grasped. Admittedly he is not an easy read, nevertheless there are apostolic teachers who have deciphered Torrance’s work to share in a form that is readable by those who have a hunger for God no matter what their intellectual prowess.
NOT THE LETTER THAT KILLS
If you are looking for a fundamentalist oriented proof-text version of faith, you will not find it in Torrance. Neither will you find him skirting around the essence of the Christian faith or being dismissive of scripture. Rather than stagnating in legalism or becoming in-substantial in liberalism, you will find him rooted in the Church Fathers, in Calvin, Barth and scholars who have rooted steeped themselves in God, rather than in those who have felt the need to make a name for themselves by emphasising some aspect of God that is out of context, and that by itself is no gospel at all.
ATONEMENT AND INCARNATION
“Torrance’s emphasis on the relationship between incarnation and atonement. These two foci and their interconnection were central in Torrance’s thinking as he sought to interpret Christian theology as a cohesive and integrated entity.
Torrance argued that, just as modern science had to develop new ways of thinking after the discoveries of James Clerk Maxwell and Albert Einstein, so also must theology. When Torrance looked at modern science, he saw it focusing on dynamic fields in their inter-relationships rather than on discrete objects and forces as was the case in traditional Newtonian mechanics.
He became convinced that, just as modern science—under pressure from the nature of reality itself—had been compelled by that reality to develop notions of a continuum-of-being, so also theology needed to find a more dynamic and integrated way of understanding its subject-matter. Torrance saw all the actions of God as inter-connected. And he understood all of them to cohere, ultimately, within the person of the Mediator himself. It is in Jesus Christ that incarnation and atonement, being and act, coincide and inter-relate.” (2)
YOU ARE INCLUDED
Paul writes of the God of our inclusion in God in the following words. ‘The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross’ Col 1.15-20 NIV.
Torrance had aligned himself with the fact that Christ is our life and that bits and pieces of law, moralism and fragments of the knowledge of good and evil were not – not our life because they are not the Gospel, not the Kingdom and not the New Creation. He had given substance to the gospel of Paul in which ‘all things hold together in Christ’ Col 1.17.
(1) Ritchie, Bruce. T. F. Torrance in Recollection and Reappraisal (p. 16). Pickwick Publications. Kindle Edition.
(2) Ibid. (pp. 19-20).