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Torrance: one atonement, three aspects

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This post [updated 5/19/19] continues a series that explores T.F. Torrance in Plain English wherein Stephen D. Morrison presents nine key ideas in Thomas F. Torrance's Christocentric Trinitarian theology. For other posts in the series, click a number: 123456, 7.

Last time we explored Torrance's key idea of Christ's vicarious humanity, noting that he views the incarnation as saving and the atonement as incarnational. This time we'll continue looking at Torrance's understanding of the atonement, noting now his key idea of a threefold atonement---one atonement with three aspects, all in and through Jesus Christ.


As Morrison notes, Torrance avoids reductionist theories of atonement because they fail to account for the full witness of Scripture concerning the atonement. Torrance's doctrine of the atonement is non-theoretical and multi-faceted. A distinctive aspect of his teaching is its emphasis on the way atonement is addressed in the Old Testament's u…

Torrance: Christ's vicarious humanity

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This post continues a series exploring T.F. Torrance in Plain English wherein Stephen D. Morrison presents nine key ideas in the Christocentric Trinitarian theology of Thomas F. Torrance. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1234, 5, 6, 8.  

Last time we looked at Torrance's key idea of Christ's twofold mediation. This time we'll explore a related key idea: Christ's vicarious humanity (a doctrine that also addresses the Christian life). Morrison offers this summary:
Jesus lived as a human united to His Father, reconciling our humanity to God through His vicarious life of perfect faith, obedience, and prayer. The Christian life in all its aspects has been taken up in His life lived in our name and on our behalf. Our faith is understood rightly as an echo within His faith, sustained and made perfect in Him. We are set free from the burden of looking over our shoulders and worrying if we have "enough" faith, what little faith we have has been take…

Torrance: Christ's twofold mediation

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This series explores T.F. Torrance in Plain English where Stephen D. Morrison presents nine key ideas in Thomas F. Torrance's Christ-centered, Trinitarian theology. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1234, 5, 78.  

Last time we explored Torrance's key idea that the doctrine of the Trinity holds the place of primacy in Christian theology. This time we'll look at another of his key ideas---the twofold mediation (agency) of Jesus Christ. As Morrison notes, Torrance teaches that "Jesus Christ is at once God for humanity and human being for God... [mediating] the things of God to humanity and the things of humanity to God" (p. 135). Torrance puts it this way:
Jesus Christ is Mediator in such a way that in his incarnate Person he embraces both sides of the mediating relationship. He is God of the nature of God, and man of the nature of man, in one and the same Person. (p. 136, quoting The Mediation of Christ, p. 56)
Torrance's emphasis on the two…

Torrance: the doctrine of the Trinity

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This series explores T.F. Torrance in Plain English wherein author Stephen D. Morrison unpacks nine key ideas in the Christ-centered, Trinitarian theology of Thomas F. Torrance. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 4, 678.  

Last time, we looked at Torrance's key idea that the triune God is one in being (homoousion). This time we'll look at his key idea that the doctrine of the Trinity holds the place of primacy in Christian theology in that, 1) it is the ground and grammar of all theological knowledge, 2) it declares that God is for us, and 3) it includes the doctrine of perichoresis, which declares that both God and humans are beings-in-relationship.

1) The ground and grammar of theology Morrison notes that, according to Paul Molnar, the doctrine of the Trinity is for Torrance "the central doctrine around which all other Christian doctrines gravitate and become comprehensible" (p. 106). This means that God is rightly known only in a Trinitaria…

Torrance: the homoousion is good news!

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This post [updated 3/24/2019] continues a series that explores T.F. Torrance in Plain English wherein author Stephen D. Morrison unpacks nine key ideas in the Christ-centered, Trinitarian theology of Thomas F. Torrance. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 5678.  

Last time we looked at Torrance's key idea that natural theology is useful in understanding God, but only when viewed in the light of divine revelation concerning God's true nature. This post looks at the divine nature by exploring Torrance's key idea that the tri-personal God (the Holy Trinity) is revealed to us in Scripture as "one in being"---homoousion---a Greek word that combines  homós  ("same") with ousía ("being").Stephen Morrison comments on the meaning and importance of the homoousion in Torrance's scientific Trinitarian theology:
The being and acts of the Father and the Son are one and not divided (homoousion: "one in being"). This is …

Torrance: relating grace and nature

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This series explores T.F. Torrance in Plain English wherein author Stephen D. Morrison unpacks nine key ideas in Thomas F. Torrance's Christ-centered, Trinitarian theology. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 45678.  

Last time we looked at Torrance's key idea that God is known truly only when we know him in accordance with his nature (thus scientifically). This time we'll examine a corollary key idea, here summarized by Stephen Morrison:
Torrance agrees with Karl Barth's famous rejection of an independent natural theology, but goes beyond Barth by integrating (contextualizing) natural theology within divine revelation. This is understood best through the relationship of grace and nature: grace does not destroy nature, it perfects and fulfills nature. (p. 67) With this key understanding, Torrance overcame the false (and unfortunate) dualism that views revelation (faith) and science as hopelessly at odds. Indeed, one of Torrance's great achie…

Torrance: knowing God according to his nature

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This series explores T.F. Torrance in Plain English in which author Stephen D. Morrison unpacks nine key ideas in Thomas F. (T. F.) Torrance's Christ-centered, Trinitarian theology. For other posts in this series, click a number: 1, 345678.  

Last time we looked at T.F.'s theological method, which yields what he calls a scientific theology. This post looks at a fundamental precept of that method: We know God truly only when we know him in accordance with his nature (thus scientifically).

For T. F., knowledge in any field of inquiry (be it a natural science or Christian theology) is true only to the extent that it accords with the actual nature of the reality it seeks to describe. Borrowing a phrase from Greek, T. F. calls such knowledge kata physin (κατα φυσιν)---knowledge that is according to nature. As Morrison notes, "Behind kata physin is the notion that every reality has its own intrinsic rationality to know it by" (p. 63). Accordingly, T. F.'s theo…