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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

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). As we also note…

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, 7

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 sanctification.
T…

Sanctification: participation, not mere imitation

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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: 12, 3, 4, 67.

Last time we saw how the Torrances view the atonement (justification in particular) as participation, not mere imputation. Now we'll see how they view sanctification as participation, not mere imitation.

It's somewhat common in Evangelical Christian circles to think of Christians as being called to "imitate Christ." To be fair, we should note that authors use the term "imitation," as it pertains to the Christian life, in various ways. However, it is often implied that Jesus came, set us an example, then left, calling upon his followers who remain to imitate his example, and so be transformed in character. They then note that this imitation of Christ is done through the power of the Spirit. In contrast to that approach, the …

Atonement: participation, not mere imputation

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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: 12, 3, 5, 67.

Last time we saw what Torrance theology says concerning how the vicarious (substitutionary, representative) humanity of Jesus Christ is central to a biblical understanding of salvation and the atonement. We saw how the Torrance brothers emphasize that Jesus' resurrection not only confirms that by his death we have been forgiven, it also points to the new birth of a righteous humanity in Christ. The Torrances then note that in Jesus' ascension this new humanity "is raised up in Christ to share by the Spirit in his perfect relationship with the Father" (p. 61). JB Torrance puts it this way:
The Son of God takes our humanity, sanctifies it by his vicarious life in the Spirit (John 17:17-18), carries it to the grave to be crucified and b…

Discipleship pathway: Belong, Believe, Become

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The following is an edited version of an excerpt from the introduction to a discipleship guidebook 
writtten by GCI pastor George Hart. A typical presentation of the gospel goes something like this: First behave (change the way you live; repent; act like you belong here). Then believe (change the way you think; have faith; believe like one of us). Then you can belong (because you have behaved and believed, God has forgiven you and made you his child. So now we welcome you to God’s family).  This typical presentation of the gospel raises some troubling questions:
How much must I change before I am acceptable, and thus can belong?Can I actually change that much?Is God’s love toward me unconditional or is it conditioned upon my behavior and belief?Can I be assured of my salvation? Is this presentation of the gospel accurate? The Trinitarian faith represented on this blog answers no---this presentation is about legalistic religion, not gospel. Legalistic religion teaches that outsiders are a…

Torrance on the vicarious humanity of Christ

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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, 4, 5, 67.

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: …

Torrance on election, freedom, universalism and hell

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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, 34, 5, 67.

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 …