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Torrance: regeneration and evangelism

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We continue unpacking the Christocentric, Trinitarian theology of Thomas F. Torrance with a post that appeared on this blog five years ago.

Given that all are included in Christ through his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension, how are we to understand what happens when a person turns to God in faith (the moment many call "regeneration" or "being born again")? And what about evangelism---how are we to present the gospel in a way that is truly Christ-centered, including inviting a person to a response of faith?
Regeneration  For Torrance, the key to a thoroughly biblical, Christ-centered understanding of regeneration is to focus one's attention first not on one's personal (subjective) experience, but on the objective (albeit mysterious) reality of Jesus Christ as the permanent union of God and humanity in one divine-human person. This key is helpfully addressed by T.F. in his book The Mediation of Christ:
It is significant that the New Testam…

Torrance: the goal of the atonement

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This post concludes a series exploring 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, 8.

Last time we looked at Torrance's key idea of a threefold atonement. This time we'll explore his key idea that the goal of the atonement is union with Christ and participation in the Triune life of God.


For Torrance, the purpose and goal of the atonement---accomplished in and through the Son of God via his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension---is not limited to the forgiveness of sin. Rather than a message about salvation away from something, the gospel, which proclaims the atonement, tells of salvation for the sake of union with Christ and participation in the love and life of the tri-personal God. Torrance puts it this way:
The mighty act of the incarnation... is at once the act of God's humiliation an…

Pentecost and gospel mission

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In Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, Thomas F. Torrance makes frequent reference to the meaning and importance of Pentecost in salvation history. On pages 263-264, he links Pentecost with the church in its gospel mission: In...its waiting and expectation [of Jesus' return] the church is commanded by its Lord to lift up its head in thanksgiving and joy, for its 'redemption is drawing near' [Luke 21:28]. The church of the risen Lord has no right to be a prophet of gloom or despair, for this world has been redeemed and sanctified by Christ and he will not let it go. The corruptible clay of our poor earth has been taken up in Jesus, is consecrated through his sacrifice and resurrection, and he will not allow it to sink back into corruption. Hence the whole creation groans and travails waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, looking forward with eager expectation to the hour of final liberation and renewal in the advent of its risen savior [Rom. 8:19 f].   Th…

Jesus' ascension: What does it mean for us?

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On Sunday, June 2, 2019, many churches will celebrate Jesus' ascension from earth to the Father's right hand in heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:1-2). But what does Jesus' ascension mean for us? We'll answer that question in this post.



In Royal Priesthood: A Theology of Ordained Ministry, T.F. Torrance notes the truth that Jesus ascended "in the fullness of His Humanity," remaining "bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh" so that in union with him, we are "bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh (Eph. 5.30)" (p. 43). Torrance exhorts the church to take this truth seriously:
If Jesus Christ is not risen in Body, then salvation is not actualized in the same sphere of reality in which we are, and we are yet in our sins (1 Cor. 15.17). If Jesus Christ is not ascended in the fullness of His Humanity, then we have no anchor within the veil and there is no hope for us men and women of flesh and blood (Heb. 6.19; Col. 1.27). To...dehumanize Christ is…

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, 79.

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'…

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, 9.  

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 t…

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, 789.  

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 …