Thomas Torrance was unique in the brilliance of His mind, the depth of his scholarship and his grasp of the ‘who’ of Jesus Christ, and the ‘we’ of ourselves in Christ. He was particularly adept in separating common christian myths from this gospel of the Kingdom, to reveal the radical nature of grace – namely the oneness with God that is ours as a reflection of the oneness of God in God’s trinitarian being.
Lack of confusion and sharp discernment is the effect of an un-insulated relationship with Jesus. ‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ Heb 4.12 NIV. The discipline of union with God cuts through confusion and religious dullness. It separates religion from Kingdom. It prevents habituation to rivers of sand as ministry and guarantees that streams of living water will flow from our life and our words.
NOT JUST WORDS
The context of Hebrews above is not just the words of the Bible. The greater reference is to the Living Word, the Logos of the universe and the Son of Man. It is intimacy with this ‘man’ that gives us spiritual discernment and intellectual sharpness.
GOSPEL OF JESUS, PAUL AND JOHN
This was the reason for Torrance’s sharpness in portraying the word of truth. He valued oneness with the living word and a result was adept in undoing accretions that were not from God and exposing the brightness of our inheritance in the incarnation. He majored in affirming our safety in the vicarious humanity of Jesus.
Writing of the fruitfulness of his fellowship with Torrance, Ray Andersons observes, “After sitting in his lectures for two years and writing my dissertation under his direction, I came to appreciate even more the deeply devotional, even pietistic life of faith that lay hidden behind his often forbidding erudition and the semantic thicket of his writing. Born in China of Scottish missionary parents, he was as comfortable talking about his personal relationship with Jesus as he was lecturing to an assembly of world-class physicists as he did on the occasion of the anniversary of Einstein’s 100th birthday.”
Nothing can improve on Christ our life.
Other people are never God to us and we do well not to fall into the idolatry of celebrity worship. But Jesus is incarnated in the community of His Church. It is His Spirit who bears witness in the flesh of Believers who have hungered for more than a church association, more than an attachment to a belief system or an attachment to a perspective that is more ideology than that which is our inheritance: Union with God.
David the Psalmist had this hunger and was not even in the new covenant. But what He did have was a knowing of God where He was, whether in the paddock with the sheep or in the temple. The importance of David is not his adultery and murder but that his intimacy with God was real and prophetic. He knew and practised that religiosity was less important than friendship with God.
If we are bogged in moralism and law we may tend to obsess over David’s adultery. To be sure it led to family misery and fragmentation – adultery always does.* But the main thing is that David lives in such oneness with God that God called David ‘His friend’. The wonder of our inheritance in Jesus is that post cross we have a far greater oneness with Jesus than David or any of the pre-cross heroes of the Faith.
‘Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ MATT 11.11 NIV.
Whether we have it or not depends on whether we believe we do.
David’s Tabernacle in which the ark dwelt temporarily was a prophetic portent of the trinity in us that has come in our flesh as a result of the cross and the incarnation. Jesus Christ who is fully God is never separated from us in our humanity. Never separated because He is a human being in the company of Holy Spirit and our Father in heaven and in us where we are by the Spirit and the community of the Church.
The spirit of Jesus is manifest in who we are. If we have a passion for Jesus as our one husband we can expect to understand the life of Jesus and its meaning for us in the now and be His representative in spirit and life. Oneness raises us above the purveyor of information to a an irrigator of spirit and life.
*The belief that sin is sin and there is no difference is nonsense. Eating too much us not as serious as disloyalty and betrayal which is the essence of the fall. Water is water but you can have it quench your thirst of find yourself carried out to sea in a rip.