Posts

Sanctification: participation, not mere imitation

Image
This post continues a review of Alexandra Radcliff's book, The Claim of Humanity in Christ, Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T. F. and J. B. Torrance. For previous posts in this series, click a number: 12, 3, 4

Last time we saw how the Torrances view the atonement (justification in particular) as participation, not mere imputation. Now we'll see how they view sanctification as participation, not mere imitation.

It's somewhat common in Evangelical Christian circles to think of Christians as being called to "imitate Christ." To be fair, we should note that authors use the term "imitation," as it pertains to the Christian life, in various ways. However, it is often implied that Jesus came, set us an example, then left, calling upon his followers who remain to imitate his example, and so be transformed in character. They then note that this imitation of Christ is done through the power of the Spirit. In contrast to that approach, the Torra…

Atonement: participation, not mere imputation

Image
This post continues a review of Alexandra Radcliff's book, The Claim of Humanity in Christ, Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T. F. and J. B. Torrance. For previous posts in this series, click a number: 12, 3, 5

Last time we saw what Torrance theology says concerning how the vicarious (substitutionary, representative) humanity of Jesus Christ is central to a biblical understanding of salvation and the atonement. We saw how the Torrance brothers emphasize that Jesus' resurrection not only confirms that by his death we have been forgiven, it also points to the new birth of a righteous humanity in Christ. The Torrances then note that in Jesus' ascension this new humanity "is raised up in Christ to share by the Spirit in his perfect relationship with the Father" (p. 61). JB Torrance puts it this way:
The Son of God takes our humanity, sanctifies it by his vicarious life in the Spirit (John 17:17-18), carries it to the grave to be crucified and buried…

Discipleship pathway: Belong, Believe, Become

Image
The following is an edited version of an excerpt from the introduction to a discipleship guidebook 
writtten by GCI pastor George Hart. A typical presentation of the gospel goes something like this: First behave (change the way you live; repent; act like you belong here). Then believe (change the way you think; have faith; believe like one of us). Then you can belong (because you have behaved and believed, God has forgiven you and made you his child. So now we welcome you to God’s family).  This typical presentation of the gospel raises some troubling questions:
How much must I change before I am acceptable, and thus can belong?Can I actually change that much?Is God’s love toward me unconditional or is it conditioned upon my behavior and belief?Can I be assured of my salvation? Is this presentation of the gospel accurate? The Trinitarian faith represented on this blog answers no---this presentation is about legalistic religion, not gospel. Legalistic religion teaches that outsiders are a…

Torrance on the vicarious humanity of Christ

Image
This post continues a review of Alexandra Radcliff's book, The Claim of Humanity in Christ, Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T. F. and J. B. Torrance. For previous posts in this series, click a number: 1, 2, 4, 5

Last time we looked at what Torrance theology says about election, human freedom, hell and universalism. This time we'll look at a key precept of Torrance theology---the vicarious (substitutionary, representative) humanity of Jesus Christ, and how that precept informs our understanding of salvation and the atonement.

As Radcliff notes, for the Torrances, "God's unconditional, covenantal claiming of humanity in Christ is an ontological event" rather than an external one that is merely forensic (legal). Torrance theology views salvation as participatory, as"worked out in the very depths of Jesus' own vicarious humanity," which "transforms the very depths of our being" (p. 48, emphasis added). Radcliff comments: For t…

Torrance on election, freedom, universalism and hell

Image
This post continues a review of Alexandra Radcliff's book, The Claim of Humanity in Christ, Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T. F. and J. B. Torrance. For previous posts in this series, click a number: 1, 34, 5.

Last time we looked at the claim made by Thomas F. (TF) Torrance and James B. (JB) Torrance that God, in and through Jesus Christ, has included all people in his life and love, and that Jesus, in our place and on our behalf, has provided the perfect human response back to God. Embracing this good news liberates us from any effort to try to earn God's grace. It also frees us to follow the Spirit in joyfully participating in what Jesus has done and continues to do on our behalf.

The Torrance doctrine of election: all are included; all is of grace Key to the Torrances' Christ-centered (incarnational) Trinitarian theology is their understanding that God, in Christ, has unconditionally elected all humanity. According to TF, "in Christ we are all ju…

God has saved you, therefore respond (salvation and sanctification in Torrance theology)

Image
This is the first post in a series. For additional posts in the series, click a number: 2, 34, 5. ______________________________________________________________________________
I recently read The Claim of Humanity in Christ, Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T. F. and J. B. Torrance by Dr. Alexandra S. Radcliff. The book is based on her dissertation written in earning her PhD at St. Mary's College (School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews) in Scotland, studying with Alan Torrance. Her examiners were theologians Tom Noble, Paul Molnar and Andrew Purves.

As the book's title suggests, it summarizes the incarnational Trinitarian theology of Thomas F. (TF) and James B. (JB) Torrance, particularly in the areas of soteriology (salvation) and sanctification (holiness and Christian living). It also offers suggestions for how Torrance theology might be clarified and expanded, particularly related to the outworking, through the ministry of the Spirit, of our san…

We are free yet bound to God

Image
Dr. John McKenna who is a Grace Communion International doctrinal advisor and faculty member at Grace Communion Seminary, has written a book titled The Prisoner of Freedom. His book explores the meaning and nature of the freedom that we have in Christ. With John's permission, I've published his book online at https://www.gci.org/files/The-Prisoner-of-Freedom_McKenna.pdf and reproduce here an excerpt from the book's forward:
From time to time there has arisen in the course of human culture ways of thinking in which aspects of reality that are naturally integrated have been torn apart from each other, with damaging effect in different areas of knowledge. (T. F. Torrance, "The Mediation of Christ," p. 1)We are free yet bound to God! The concept of freedom is both complex and simple. With our thought and experience in this world, it possesses a certain simplicity and complexity. We explore the full range of the complex of freedom’s simplicity and complexity aware, pe…