Posts

What about evangelism?

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I realize that the word "evangelism" makes many who read this blog uncomfortable. Some even think evangelism is contrary to incarnational Trinitarian theology. Let me ease your mind, by quoting from the book, Gospel, Church, and Ministry, in which T.F. Torrance is quoted as writing this:
The church today in its faint-heartedness and skepticism seems to have lost its nerve…adapting the gospel to modern man instead of bringing modern man face to face with the gospel…. The Church cannot discharge the task that Christ has laid upon it without offering unadulterated witness and engaging in pure evangelism, cost what it may in scorn and ridicule or oppression. If at the point the Church seeks to save its life it will lose it, but here if it is ready to lose it for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s it will find it. (p. 160, emphasis added)  Strong words these, and in this post I want to address the topic of engaging in what T.F. calls "pure evangelism." My goal is not to gu…

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

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This post concludes a series recapping insights from 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 the series, click a number: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Throughout her excellent book, Dr. Radcliff emphasizes the understanding held by both T.F. and J.B. Torrance that sanctification is not about our efforts to become the sort of persons we ought to be. Viewed through the lens of the Torrances' incarnational Trinitarian theology, "a holy life does not stem from an introspective concern with our sin or from attempting to follow moral rules and regulations, but from our free participation by the Spirit in Christ's intimate relationship with the Father" (p. 167). The Torrances teach that in and through the vicarious humanity of Jesus our humanity is already fully sanctified. Our focus as Christians is thus not on trying to perfect ourselves, but on fixing…

Participating in Jesus' sanctification of our humanity

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This post continues a series re-capping insights from 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 the series, click a number: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11

Last time we explored the Torrances' view that sanctification, rather than being what we achieve through our works, is an already-accomplished reality in Jesus. The Christian life is thus not about making ourselves holy, but about participating, by the Spirit, in what already is true of us in the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ. That being the case, an important question is this: How do we participate? 

Is the idea of participation in Christ just a nice theological concept, or is it a day-to-day reality? To many critics of Torrance theology, the idea seems far too conceptual. After all, we live on earth and Jesus (in his glorified humanity) is in heaven. One day he will return to earth, but in the meantime how…

Sanctified through the vicarious humanity of Christ

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This post continues a series re-capping insights from 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 the series, click a number: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 1011

We come now to the section of Radcliff's book where she drills down on the subjective (personal) outworking of the objective sanctification that is ours in and through Jesus. But before focusing on the subjective aspect of sanctification, Randliff returns to the objective, lest we we lose sight of an important gospel truth:
Humanity is not only set free from the burden of attempting to achieve salvation, but also from the burden of attempting to achieve sanctification.... This is a significant contribution [by the Torrances] for, having been justified by faith, it is often supposed that it is the Christian's task to work out his own sanctification. (p. 123) Sadly, Christians often operate under the burdensom…

Truly children of God (our being and becoming)

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This post continues a series re-capping insights from 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, 5, 6, 7, 91011

Last time, we saw how Torrance theology views sanctification as our participation, by the Spirit, in Christ's obedient response to the Father on our behalf. According to Radcliff, "rather than diminishing our response," this approach "truly establishes it" (p. 99). In this post, we'll continue on this theme of participation, looking at the ultimate goal of our salvation, which involves what the Holy Spirit is doing to "lift humanity up to God.... [drawing] us up as adopted sons of God to participate in Christ's relationship with the Father" (p. 112). TF Torrance put it this way:
By his very nature, the Holy Spirit not only proceeds from the Father but lifts [us] up to the F…

The Torrances on final judgment and works

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This post continues a series re-capping insights from 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 the series, click a number: 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 891011

Last time, we noted what Torrance theology says concerning the Holy Spirit's role in our sanctification. The Torrance brothers (Thomas F. [TF] and James B. [JB]) both teach that the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ, who in his vicarious humanity sanctifies us. A criticism of the Torrances on this point is that their view seems to negate the role of a person in their own sanctification. But as we noted last time, that criticism is unwarranted. The Torrances teach that in our spiritual union with Christ by the Spirit, we participate in Christ's response to God made on our behalf. As Radcliff notes, "This participatory scheme, rather than diminishing our human response, truly establishes it" (p. 99). A…

The essential work of the Spirit in our sanctification, and more about our participation (including the sacraments)

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This post continues a series re-capping insights from 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 the series, click a number: 12, 3, 4, 5, 7891011

Last time, we saw that T.F. and J.B. Torrance view sanctification not merely as our imitation of Jesus (seeing him as a distant model to emulate), but as our active participation, by the Holy Spirit, in Jesus' ongoing love and life as our Mediator and High Priest. From this incarnational, Trinitarian perspective, the key question when it comes to sanctification is not What would Jesus do? (then trying to follow his example in seeking to transform ourselves), but What is Jesus doing? (then, by the Spirit, participating with him). "Participation" is thus a key word for the Torrances, and in this post we'll see how and why, noting their understanding of the essential work of the Holy Spirit in our san…