Footnote Studies on T F Torrance

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Many years ago I picked up The Trinitarian Faith for the first time and began to navigate my way through this book.  I found it difficult to digest at first.  Within my confused mind, there were moments where some passages jumped out at me and had the instinctive ring of truth.  It defied all my preconceived ideas of God causing me to seriously repent over and over again all my ideas regarding who I believed God to be and what I was led to believe by my lecturers on campus.  It took me several readings before I was able to fully grasp the implications of the teaching of the ancient church.  This was not just another point of view by a high calibre theologian.  To skim over this work in this way is to grossly underestimate the whole reason Torrance wrote this book.

T F Torrance was eminently qualified to explain what was travelling through the mind of the ancient church more than any other human being of his time.  It is only when we start to track his footnotes back to the original writings that we start to see the enormous significance for the entire church today.  This exposition of the Nicene Creed gives us a clear guide of what the gospel meant to the church at this time.  It also gave us clarity on what heresies they were faced with.  I could only conclude that if the church at this time were so right, then we today are clearly so off track and so caught up in a heretical understanding of the gospel.  If we do not give careful consideration to the theological framework of the ancient church, then we are at risk of preaching a pagan fantasy conjured up by the likes of Arius rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Theology is a conversation.  At many levels, Christians talk about God is conditioned by our Western way of seeing and knowing that has shaped us for centuries. Most of us take it for granted that what we have been taught is consistent with what has been taught from the very beginning.  However, in the first few centuries of the church there was also a conversation about Christian matters.  What many of us fail to realise is many of these conversations have been written down and are widely and freely available for all of us to access.  This conversation barely changed in the first few centuries except to show more accurately and concisely what it is the universal church believed and agreed were the fundamentals of the Christian faith.  If we compare this ancient conversation with our modern conversation, we find they had an entirely different way of seeing and knowing the centrepiece of the gospel, the very Person of Jesus Christ.  Generally speaking, our so-called gospel language is likened more to the enemies of the ancient church than it is to the ancient tradition.

The purpose here is not just to understand what T F Torrance is talking about. It is to understand who he is talking about.  For much of mainstream theology, the voice of the ancient church is largely ignored.  For the average Christian the voice of the ancient church has been silenced.  What Torrance has done is to stand as a voice on behalf of the ancient church and as a spokesperson for these clouds of witnesses he speaks to us what it is they believed.  The church at this time were unified far and wide and took great care in preserving what had been handed down to them by the Apostles.

What I will do is to provide links to as many resources as possible for each of the footnotes in this book.  I am using the edition that was first published in 1991 where the footnotes are at the bottom of each page.  The latest edition has the footnotes at the end of each chapter.  However, both editions footnotes correspond with each other.  By engaging with the footnotes as you read through the text will retrain your mind to the ancient gospel.

This will be a work in progress.  I hope this will enlighten you to the integrity of this masterful valuable piece of work.  Reading the footnotes for yourselves while reading this book will provide you with a strong foundation for understanding the mind of the ancient church.  It will better equip one’s self to be able to effectively preach the gospel in a more accurate fashion that corresponds with what the apostles had handed down.

Chapter 1: Faith and Godliness

 Chapter 2: Access to the Father

Chapter 3: The Almighty Creator


Chapter 4: God of God, Light of Light

Chapter 5: The Incarnate Saviour

Chapter 6: The Eternal Spirit


Footnotes 132-151 Footnotes 152-190 Footnotes 191-237
Footnotes 238-281


Chapter 7: The One Church

Chapter 8: The Triunity of God