T.F. Torrance on God the Father as Creator

God the Father, Cima da Conegliano, Circa 1510-17.
God the Father, Cima da Conegliano, Circa 1510-17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Torrance notes that God the Father is referred to as “Father” in two different ways. The first, the transcendent one, is based upon God as Creator. This is my favorite attribute of God, and the one which theology first takes shape.

…(W)e think of God the Father as the eternal Creator and Lord of all being and existence, he to whom our Lord referred as ‘the heavenly Father’ and to whom he taught us to pray. He is the Father who cares for all his creatures in such a personal and detailed way that, as he taught in the sermon on the Mount, not a sparrow falls to the ground without him, the very hairs of our head are all numbered, and his divine provision for people’s needs is extended equally to the just and the unjust. This fatherly conception of God was given definitive expression in the opening clause of the Nicene Creed, ‘We believe in God the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.’ The Almighty is Father, and the Father is Almighty. There the omnipotence of the Creator, his power over all existents and realities whether visible or invisible, is not defined in some abstract metaphysical way, but is defined quite concretely with reference to God precisely as Fatherit is as such that he is the one eternal self-grounded personal Being who is the Source and Lord of all that was, is and ever will be.

It is this aspect of God, that of Creator, that should guide us as we define the other attributes of the Holy Trinity in our Creed.

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

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Book Announcement: Theology in Transposition: A Constructive Appraisal of T. F. Torrance @FortressPress

Glad to see this announcement:

T. F. Torrance was one of the most significant English-language theologians of the twentieth-century known extensively for his curatorship of the English translation of Barth’s Church Dogmatics but also for his own prodigious theological scholarship. The complexity and astonishing breadth of Torrance’s output, however, have made assessment and appropriation markedly difficult. This volume seeks to rectify that lack of assessment through careful exposition of the vital centers and interconnections within Torrance’s theology alongside constructive appraisal and critique of his contributions to contemporary theology.

Pre-order it via Theology in Transposition: A Constructive Appraisal of T. F. Torrance | Fortress Press.

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Review: T.F. Torrance: Atonement, The Person and Work of Christ

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T.F. Torrance is one of the most readable Reformed scholars who brings to to the table Christian Tradition, conservative scholarship, and rich theological insight and relates the deep things of God with clarity, warmth, and easy so that whether you are an experienced theologian or a lay reader, he doesn’t disappoint. Critiquing Torrance is like critiquing Calvin or Wesley; however, I want to present a view of his second volume.

Posthumously compiled by his nephew, Robert T. Walker, the reader now has access to two compendiums of Torrance’s theology. His first volume, on the Incarnation, serves as a stepping stone to the delivering of the theology of the Atonement. Both are rich and well presented, tackling two of the most beloved and debated dogmatic points in Christianity.

The reader is not simply told what to believe, but taken through a journey of Atonement, beginning with the Old Testament and examining the event with the Hebrews. He explores the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, touching on the sacraments, eschatology, and the knowledge of God through the Son. The atonement in the New Testament is handled in his superb style, extending his work on the Incarnation into the community of Christ, the one Church of God in Jesus Christ. Masterfully written, and divided into easily readable sections, the volume contains much of the lacking theological speculation and hard work which the broader Church needs today. Torrance pulls no punches, tackling hyper-Calvinism, universalism, and Arminianism without ad hominems, straw mans or other personal jabs. Instead, he lays out their position and responds with at theological answer.

If a one reads Torrance objectively, the deep beauty of his picture of the Grace of God and the marvelous saving work of Jesus Christ comes through as does his own love for these subjects. It is not merely for the Reformed, but so too for all Christians for which Torrance has devoted his theological life to.

I would like to thank IVP-Academic for this review copy.

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Torrance on Arminianism

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The alternative to that would be to assert that all that God provided was the possibility of salvation for all in the cross, and that each person has to translate that general possibility into actuality in their own case, but that is to land in Arminanism and to teach that ultimately everyone is their own saviour, in so far as they have to co-operate with Christ for their salvation. But if all that has been done in the death of Christ is the creation of the possibility of salvation, then who can be sure of their salvation, since everything depends in the last analysis on human weakness?

But, he doesn’t stop there…he goes after the hyper-Calvinists who would then have the ‘action of the cross… divorced from the love of God.’ (pg187)

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Torrance on the (W)ord of God

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Recently, I heard (again) that the Word of God in John 1.1 is the same as the Scriptures. It is mind-bending and numbing logic to say the least.

The scriptures are of course human documents, but they are so conjoined through the Spirit to the divine Word as to be the written word of God to man, deposited through the apostles as the treasure of the church out of which it lives and according to which it orders its life throughout the generations. In and through the scriptures the church continues to hear God speaking to it, and acknowledges therefore that they are holy scriptures and the authoritative word of God. As human testimony to God’s Word, the scriptures are to be distinguished from the Word of God, but not separated from it, for God has through his Spirit graciously elected and formed scripture as the means whereby he continues through the Spirit to declare his mind to the church and to call the church into union and communion with himself. (pg335)

Torrance is not combining the Word of God with the word of God, but stating that because the scriptures testify to Christ, then by necessity they are inspired. Of course, for Torrance, the text while central and inspired is still human.

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Torrance on Eschatology

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As I continue my reading of Torrance’s second volume, I find a quote of particular interest to me. (By the way, while you or I may disagree with T.C., I love his posts on Revelation. This one is is interesting.)

By eschatological is meant here what is directed toward the end, or toward the consummation in the final parousia, what is related to the eschaton, the last word and final act of God in Christ.

He goes on to state that this word simply means the intervention of the Eternal into the Temporal, and offers criticism of Bultmann’s views  and his ‘radical disjunction between this world and the other world of God, and his rejection and any interaction between God and this world which he holds to be a closed continuum of cause and effect.’ (pg71)

For Torrance, the parouisa is the reality of the unveiling of Christ’s work in which He would return to judge and renew his creation. He goes on to state – and remember, he is casting the sacraments as a backwards/forwards view of Christ – that eschatology in the New Testament involves a ‘twofold relation.’ This, for Torrance, seems to explain the mystery of the Eucharist, along other things.

While Torrance may present some difficult theology, his method of delivery is ideal for the lay person or the more scholarly among us. I doubt that everyone will agree with everything that he writes (has said), but we can admire him for his passion for Christ and the Scripture. In my opinion, if his method of delivery was the style of more Reformed ministers, it might be more tempting.

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Torrance on ἀπολύτρωσις

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ἐξ αὐτοῦ δὲ ὑμεῖς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὃς ἐγενήθη σοφία ἡμῖν ἀπὸ θεοῦ, δικαιοσύνη τε καὶ ἁγιασμὸς καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις, (1st Corinthians 1:30)

For a reference to the below statement –

Thus it is worth nothing right away, especially in view of what follows, that the term which the New Testament uses for redemption, apolutrosis, is derived not from the verb but from the noun lutron which refers not so much to the act as to the cost of redemption. That should warn us that any account of redemption in the New Testament and early church which does not give central significance to the lutron, the price of redemption, is hardly likely to do justice to their understanding. (p26)

So then, perhaps the cost cannot be a mere man… or perhaps, the life given was the cost?

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T.F. Torrance on the Mystery of the Atonement

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I’ve taken up reading the second volume of T.F. Torrance’s posthumously published works, Atonement, The Person and Work of Christ. From time to time, I’ll post various insights from Torrance, who is by far a favorite of mine, at least concerning Reformed Theologians.

After reciting, briefly, the ‘liturgy of the day of atonement’ in Leviticus 16, Torrance writes,

That divine ordinance from the old covenant serves to remind us, as we seek to understand the cross, that though the veil of the earthly temple was rent from top to bottom, Jesus entered within the veil ‘into heaven itself’, into the holy of holies of God’s immediate presence and there he acted as our high priest and mediator beyond the view of humankind – the nature of his work was unutterable. That means that the innermost mystery of atonement and intercession remains mystery: it cannot be spelled out, and it cannot be spied out. That is the ultimate mystery of the blood of Christ, the blood of God incarnate, a holy and infinite mystery which is more to be adored than expressed. here we tread the holy ground of the garden of Gethsemane and Calvary and here we much clap our hand upon our mouth again and again for me have no words adequate to match the infinitely holy import of atonement. (p2)

He then goes on to connect the mystery of the atonement to the Eucharist.

Torrance‘s first volume dealt with the Incarnation which seems to be must dealt with before the atonement is considered.

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