Thomas F Torrance

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“Perhaps the most fundamental truth which we have to learn in the Christian Church, or rather relearn since we have suppressed it, is that the incarnation was the coming of God to save us in the heart of our fallen and depraved humanity, where humanity is at its wickedest in its enmity and violence against the reconciling love of God. That is to say, the incarnation is to be understood as the coming of God to take upon himself our fallen human nature, our actual human existence laden with sin and guilt, our humanity diseased in mind and soul in its estrangement or alienation from the Creator. This is a doctrine found everywhere in the early Church in the first five centuries, expressed again and again in the terms that the whole man had to be assumed by Christ if the whole man was to be saved, that the unassumed is unhealed, or that what God has not taken up in Christ is not saved. The sharp point of those formulations of this truth lay in the fact that it is the alienated mind of man that God had laid hold of in Jesus Christ in order to redeem it and effect reconciliation deep within the rational centre of human being.

(T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 48-9)”

“. . . Rationalistic fundamentalists are those who think they can treat biblical statements as independent from the ultimate Being to whom they refer. Once this move is made they can then apply preconceived rational structures to fit biblical statements (such as “God is love”) into a dogmatic system. But this would be to commit the error that is referred to elsewhere in this article, namely to impose our own systems of logic on the subject matter of enquiry rather than letting it teach us its own inherent logic. Such systems of doctrine tend to be legalistic constructs of our own minds where we may seem to put grace at the center of a theological system but instead end up with a new legalistic system that does not really set people free in Christ.”

(taken from: Participatio: Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship, 22-23);

“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.”

(T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 94)

“Like Christ the Holy Spirit is one in being and of the same being as the Father, but unlike Christ the Holy Spirit is not one in being and of the same being as we are, for he incarnated the Son but does not incarnate himself, he utters the Word but does not utter himself. He directs us through himself to the one Word and Face of God in Jesus Christ in accordance with whom all our knowledge of God is formed in our minds, knowledge of the Spirit as well as of the Father and of the Son. This is the diaphanous self-effacing nature of the Holy Spirit who hides himself, as it were, behind the Father in the Son and behind the Son in the Father, but also the enlightening transparence of the Spirit who by throwing his eternal Light upon the Father through the Son and upon the Son in the Father, brings the radiance of God’s Glory to bear upon us. We do not know the Holy Spirit directly in his own personal Reality or Glory. We know him only in his unique spiritual mode of activity and transparent presence in virtue of which God’s self-revelation shines through to us in Christ, and we are made through the Spirit to see the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father. While the Holy Spirit thereby guards the transcendence of God who infinitely exceeds what finite minds can grasp, nevertheless through his personal presence to us he brings the ineffable Being and Reality of God out of his unapproachable Light to bear upon us, and brings us out of our distance and darkness to have communion with himself and through himself with the Father and the Son. Because through him the Word of God continues to sound forth and is heard and believed, because in his light we see light and by his creative operation we come to know the unknowable and eternal God, we know the Holy Spirit, although personally distinct from the Father and the Son, to be no less Lord God than the Father and the Son, both as he is toward us and as he is antecedently in the undivided oneness of God’s eternal being.”

(Thomas F. Torrance, “The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being Three Persons,” 66-7)

“Jesus Christ came among us sharing to the full the poverty of our ignorance, without ceasing to embody in himself all the riches of the wisdom of God, in order that we might be redeemed from our ignorance through sharing in his wisdom.”

(Trinitarian Faith, p. 187)

“Fundamentalism stumbles at the consubstantial relation between the free continuous act of God’s self-communication and the living content of what He communicates, especially when this is applied to divine revelation in and through the Holy Scriptures. It rejects the fact that revelation must be continually given and received in a living relation with God ­ i.e., it substitutes a static for a dynamic view of revelation. …The practical and the epistemological effect of a fundamentalism of this kind is to give an infallible Bible and a set of rigid evangelical beliefs primacy over God’s self-revelation which is mediated to us through the Bible. This effect is only reinforced by the regular fundamentalist identification of biblical statements about the truth with the truth itself to which they refer. …The living reality of God’s self-revelation through Jesus Christ and in the Spirit is in point of fact made secondary to the Scriptures.”

(Thomas F. Torrance, Reality and Evangelical Theology. Westminster Press. 1981. pgs 16,17,18).

“It is only in and through Jesus Christ that man’s eclipse of God can come to an end and he can emerge again out of darkness into light.

(“The Eclipse of God,” in God and Rationality, p. 55.)

But if someone here claims in any way to be a theologian, we must surely ask of him, in a scientific age, to leave adolescent preoccupation with self-exploration and self-fulfilment behind, and to become man enough to engage in the unrelenting processes of scientific questioning in which he himself will be questioned down to the very roots of his existence and so is made open at least to listen for something beyond the echo of his own thought, if not actually to hear a Word coming to him from beyond which he could never tell to himself.”

The Eclipse of God,” in God and Rationality, p. 55.

“Jesus is the fulfilment and embodiment of Gods Holy and righteous act or dikaioma, and also the embodiment of our act and faith trust and obedience towards God. He stood in our place, taking our cause upon him, also as the Believer, as the Obedient One who was himself justified before God as his beloved Son in whom he was well pleased. He offered to God a perfect confidence and trust, a perfect faith and response which we are unable to offer, and he appropriated all Gods blessings which we were unable to appropriate.”


“Through union with him we share in his faith, in his obedience in his trust and in his appropriation of the Fathers blessings; we share in his justification before God.  Therefore when we are justified by faith this does not mean that it is our faith that justifies us, far from it – it is the faith of Christ alone that justifies us, but we in faith flee from even our own acts of faith confession trust and response and take refuge in the obedience and faithfulness of Christ”

Theology in Reconstruction. TF Torrance. 1965, pp 159-160.

…The love of God…functions unreservedly and equably as love even in the judgment of the sinner. It is his loving of the sinner which resists his sin that is his judgment of the sinner…the total self-giving of the self-affirming God in love is and cannot but be the judgment of his love upon the sinner. He does not hold back his love from the sinner, for he cannot cease to be the God who loves and loves unreservedly and unconditionally. Is that not why St. John in the Apocalypse could speak of the wrath of God as ‘the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:17; 11:18; 16:1; 19:15), for his wrath is the total unrestrained self-giving of God’s love upon the Cross which he does not withhold even from those who reject it, and which is and cannot but be wholly opposed to evil and sin? And that is surely why St. Paul could speak of his ministry of the Gospel as a savor to one of life unto life and to another of death unto death. In God there is no Yes and NO, but only Yes (1Cor. 1:19f; 2:15f). It is upon the Yes of God’s eternal love for us that our salvation rests, but that Yes is also the judgment of those who perish. Why people may want to reject the love of God is quite inexplicable, but whether they believe in Jesus Christ as the incarnate love of God or refuse to believe in him, the love of God remains unchangeably what it was and is and ever will be, the love that is freely, unreservedly and unconditionally given to all mankind

(p. 246).

“Grace is to be understood as the impartation not just of something from God but of God Himself. In Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit God freely gives to us in such a way that the Gift and the Giver are one and the same in the wholeness and indivisibility of His grace…”

(Thomas F. Torrance, Reality and Evangelical Theology. Westminster Press. 1981. pgs 14,15).

“Justification is not only the forgiveness of sins, but the bestowal of a positive righteousness that derives from beyond us, and which we have through union with Christ. It is a perpetual living in Christ, from a centre and source beyond us. To be justified is to be lifted up above and beyond ourselves to live out of the risen and ascended Christ, and not out of ourselves.”

(Thomas F. Torrance, Theology in Reconstruction. … Pgs. 151,152)

“When the Protestant doctrine of justification is formulated only in terms of forensic imputation of righteousness or the non-imputation of sins in such a way as to avoid saying that to justify is to “make righteous”, it is the resurrection that is being by-passed. …justification is empty and unreal, merely a judicial transaction, unless the doctrine of justification bears in its heart a relation of real union with Christ. Apart from such a union with Him through the power of His Spirit, Christ would remain, as it were, inert or idle. We require an active relation to Christ as our righteousness, an active and an actual sharing in His righteousness. This is possible only through the resurrection; – when we approach justification in this light we see that it is a creative event in which our regeneration or renewal is already included within it.”

(Torrance, Thomas F. – Space, Time and Resurrection.

“Justification is the content of the Word of grace that God directs to us, a Word that is mighty, living and active. When God declared by His Word that we are righteous, we are righteous, for His Word makes it so. It is not an empty Word but one that fulfils what it declares”

Thomas F. Torrance – Cheap and Costly Grace, in God and Rationality Pg. 56)

“Justification means not simply the non-imputation of our sins through the pardon of Christ, but positive sharing in his divine-human righteousness. We are saved, therefore, not only by the death of Christ which He suffered for our sakes, but by his life which he lived in our flesh for our sakes and which God raised from the dead that we may share in it through the power of the Spirit.”

(Thomas F. Torrance. Theology in Reconstruction. .. Pg. 155)

“While God is who He is in His self-revelation, that divine revelation is God Himself, for it is not just something of Himself tht God reveals to us but His very own Self, His own ultimate Being as God. …What God is toward us in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit He is in Himself in His own eternal Being as God. That is to say, any disjunction between God and His self-revelation through Christ and in the Spirit could only mean that in the last analysis the gospel is empty of any divine reality or validity. What God reveals of Himself and what He is in Himself are one and the same ­ hence the insistence by patristic theology that Jesus Christ the incarnate Son and the Holy Spirit are each of one and the same being with God the Father. That is the epistemological as well as the soteriological significance of the homoousion.”

(Thomas F. Torrance, Reality and Evangelical Theology. Westminster Press. 1981. pg. 14).

“God Himself is the real content of His revelation. What He reveals of Himself and His actual self-revealing are one and the same. These are complementary, the Being of God in His Act and the Act of God in His Being.”

(Thomas F. Torrance, Reality and Evangelical Theology. Westminster Press. 1981. pg. 15).