Trinitarian grace (part 1)

This post begins a series overviewing the book Trinitarian Grace and Participation: An Entry into the Theology of T. F. Torrance by Geordie W. Ziegler.

Due to complexity of thought and technical language, the writings of Thomas F. Torrance are, for many, difficult to understand. Geordie Ziegler's goal for Trinitarian Grace and Participation is to help readers see beyond these obstacles to the core of Torrance's teaching -- that core being the grace of God in Christ. As Ziegler emphasizes, Torrance (TFT, hereinafter) saw grace as the "interior logic" of all doctrines of the historic Christian faith:
Grace for Torrance is nothing less than the self-giving of God for our salvation. This self-giving of God is an activity of the whole Trinity which moves from the Father through the Son in the Spirit, and in the Spirit through the Son to the Father. The ultimate purpose of this motion of Grace is fellowship with human creatures and the redemption of the whole created order…

The gifts of the Holy Spirit

In a previous post, Michael Morrison, Grace Communion Seminary professor and dean of students, addressed the work of the Holy Spirit. In this post he addresses the work the Spirit does in equipping believers with particular "gifts of the Spirit." This post excerpts a lecture on this topic by Dr. Morrison.

One of the ways the Holy Spirit works in individuals and within the community as a whole is by giving "gifts of the Spirit" to members of the church for the benefit of the church. We find the fullest explanation of this in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, a community of believers that needed instruction concerning the Holy Spirit and church unity. Paul writes this:
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. (1 Cor. 12:1) Paul then comments on how God works in different ways in different people:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of …

The work of the Holy Spirit

This post is excerpted from a lecture by Michael Morrison, dean of faculty and professor at Grace Communion Seminary.

The apostle Paul's understanding of the Spirit's work is anchored in his belief that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension fulfilled Ezekiel's prophecy concerning the ushering in of the Messianic age when God, by the Spirit, would be at work in his people in a new way (Ezek. 36:24-27). Note what Paul wrote concerning the Spirit's work:
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. (1 Cor. 2:12-13) In his various letters, Paul identifies four aspects of the Spirit's ongoing work. Let's look at each one.
1. The Spirit's work in preaching the gospel…

Trinitarian pastoral care

This post from Grace Communion Seminary faculty member Ted Johnston explores the Trinitarian approach to pastoral care advocated by the Torrance brothers. All three view pastoral care as Spirit-led participation in Jesus' ongoing ministry to and through his Body, the church. This post is excerpted from one of Ted's lectures in his GCS Practice of Ministry course.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Andrew Root after him, emphasize that Jesus Christ, the ascended incarnate Son of God, through the Holy Spirit, ministers personally---sharing the place of every person. As pastoral ministers, we are called to be place-sharers with Jesus. We do so by helping people encounter Jesus Christ who is present already with them in healing ways. We offer this assistance by proclaiming to people the Word of God (the apostolic gospel)---a proclamation made in multiple ways, both verbal and non-verbal. We find helpful instruction about doing so in the writings of the three Torrance brothers. We begin with…

Trinitarian evangelism

This post excerpts a lecture from Grace Communion Seminary faculty member Randy Bloom, given in his Church Planting and Development course. It addresses an approach to evangelism grounded in and shaped by incarnational Trinitarian theology. 

To evangelize is to proclaim the gospel In the New Testament, to evangelize (euaggeliz├│ in Greek) means to announce the gospel (euangelion in Greek). Evangelism is about proclaiming the good news that in and through Jesus Christ, the Father has reconciled all people to himself, thus including all people in his love and life. The gospel tells us that no one is predetermined to eternal alienation from God because Jesus, through his representative-substitutionary human life, has offered to the Father every perfect, obedient human response, thus restoring right relationship between God and all humanity. The message of the gospel then invites people to respond to this good news (Acts 2:38) with repentance (change of mind) and faith (trust in Jesus). The…

Does GCI teach universalism?

Grace Communion International (GCI) teaches that God, in and through Jesus Christ, has reconciled all people to himself---forgiving them and including them in his love and life. Is this a doctrine of universalism? Dr. Gary Deddo, President of Grace Communion Seminary, answers below.

It's about a personal relationship! To understand how and why GCI's doctrine of salvation is not universalism, it's important to note that GCI views salvation as involving a personal relationship between two subjects--God and humans. Though both subjects must be accounted for, the primary one (and the source of the saving relationship) is the triune God who acts toward humans on the basis of grace. This understanding aligns with many passages of Scripture, including these: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16, ESV); “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19, ESV); "[Jesus Christ is] the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John…