Torrance on the vicarious humanity of Christ

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

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 the Tor…

Torrance on election, freedom, universalism and hell

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

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 judged--an…

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

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 sanctification, which already is accomplished in and through Jesus' vicarious humanity. Along the way, Alexandra addresses objections lodged by various theologians to Torrance …

We are free yet bound to God

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 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…

What does the term "adoption" tell us about the gospel?

What is being conveyed in the New Testament concerning the gospel in its use of the term adoption? This post will look at the biblical and cultural evidence in seeking to answer that question.
In the Old Testament In the Old Testament, we find only limited, and then only indirect, references to adoption. This is probably because in Israelite law, there was no provision for adoption per se. Orphans were provided for, not through adoption, but through levirate marriage. There are, however, a few references to adoption-like circumstances in the Old Testament. These tend to be in circumstances where slaves became heirs of the “adopting” owner. We also note in the Old Testament that God chose the nation of Israel to be his “son”--a concept taken up by Paul when he notes that “theirs [Israel’s] is the adoption as sons” (Rom. 9:4).

In the New Testament Though the New Testament's use of the term  adoption (huiothesia in Greek), is limited to Paul’s writings, the concept is found in other…

Relations between the Persons of the Trinity

Unfortunately, much teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity focuses on how the one is three and the three are one, with little attention given to the actual relations among the divine Persons. In his introduction to the book Retrieving Eternal Generation, Trinitarian theologian Fred Sanders (co-editor of the book), notes that we must not lose sight of the important truth that....
...the Son is eternally begotten (or generated) from the Father. It is not enough to say that the Son is God; we must see that he is God the Son, not just God-in-general. Sonship, or eternal generation, is what gives both form and content to the relation between the Father and the Son: the relation has the form of fromness, and the content of filiality. Whenever the nature of that relation is left unspecified, any articulation of Trinitarian theology becomes brittle and disconnected. Without eternal generation, the constellation of truths that compose the doctrine of the Trinity remain just so many points of…

Thinking with Einstein about truth and freedom

Here, with the author's permission, is an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Dr. John McKenna, faculty member at GCI's Grace Communion Seminary. John, a student of T.F. Torrance, has served as doctrinal advisor for GCI.

In general, we may say that freedom without truth is mere anarchy; truth without freedom is sheer tyranny.

The integration of freedom and truth is necessary if we are to grasp the reality of the nature of the Word in all of its depths with us. The freedom of truth and the truth of freedom fundamentally provide the ground on which we may stand and understand the reality of the space and time where we have been given our freedom to live and breathe.

The integration of freedom and truth is essential in the depth of the order we discover here. When this integration exists, we have the formation of the fundamental ground on which we may seek to know the nature of the Cosmos that is the Universe where we have been given our freedom to be who we are in God’s Creation.…