The movement of grace (Trinitarian grace, part 2)

This post continues a series overviewing Trinitarian Grace and Participation: An Entry into the Theology of T. F. Torrance by Geordie W. Ziegler. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1.

Last time we looked at Thomas F. Torrance's foundational understanding that grace is the self-giving of the life and love of the Triune God. This time we'll explore TFT's understanding that the grace of God is a movement that proceeds from the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. As noted by Geordie Ziegler, TFT taught that
the triune God exists eternally in the fullness of his life and love. The extension of this triune life and love beyond itself is a creative act, a mission whose sole purpose is to share God's life and love with that which is other than God.... In creation, God establishes an all-embracing framework of Grace within which and through which he shares with human beings the fellowship of his love. (Kindle, loc. 628)
For TFT (pictured above and below), "the entire natural universe is stamped by, and caught up in, the order and pattern of this gracious movement of the triune God" (loc. 663). This movement of grace is fundamentally personal and relational. Rather than a static commodity that God doles out, grace is the dynamic self-giving of the tri-personal God into which we (the receivers of grace) are invited to participate. In TFT's theological vision, this trinitarian-relational grace is Christocentric, having its center (foundation) in the Christ event: the incarnation, birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. TFT can not only say that the grace of God is personal, but that grace is a person -- the personalizing person, Jesus Christ.


Quoting TFT, Ziegler notes that "the doctrine of the Trinity [on which TFT's understanding of grace relies] has 'its material content' in and through 'the crucified Jesus, risen again, and now forever lodged in the heart of the Triune Being of God'" (loc. 762). Ziegler goes on to point out TFT's assertion that God's "economic activities" (including grace) are "not external activities to God's being, but are the very being of God in action" (loc. 787).

For TFT, the form and content of God's grace is "a dynamic perichoretic triune relation" expressed in and through Jesus Christ. Said another way, "the Gift and the Giver are one and the same Being" (loc. 815). For TFT, the internal order and relations (onto-relations) of the Trinity (Father, Son and Spirit) is the very form of grace itself:
Grace has a form and content: the onto-relational perichoretic triune movement from the Father through the Son and in the Spirit, to the Father through the Son in the Spirit. Torrance's claim is that there is no other movement of God than this circular movement; therefore all God-talk (i.e., theology) must adhere to and be grounded in this movement. (loc. 829) 
As Ziegler goes on to note, TFT sees all created existence as being brought into being and sustained by this triune movement of grace: "As Grace is a gift, it implies both an otherness and a continuous contingence in creation" (loc. 842). Ziegler notes TFT's assertion that creation
"must be regarded not only as having taken place through the Logos but in the Logos, which nevertheless remains utterly transcendent over it all." Thus, while the order and rationality which God gives to creation as not necessary or inherent, by Grace they are natural. Order is derived from the Logos....  The entire universe of visible and invisible, celestial and terrestrial realities is a cosmic unity due to the all-embracing providential and integrating activity of the divine Logos, so that a single rational order pervades all created existence contingent upon the transcendent rationality of God. By Grace, the order of the Logos freely pervades his creation. (loc. 855)
TFT emphasizes that this relation of grace between God and creation is not inherent to the creation. Rather, it "is based purely upon the gracious decision of God" (loc. 883). This grace calls forth human participation: As thinking beings, we do not think autonomously. Rather, we think in participation with Christ in the Spirit and "this participation in the movement of Grace is grounded in the historical actuality of the incarnate Jesus Christ and becomes lived in us through the present activity of the Spirit" (loc. 898).