Thomas Torrance is much utilised as an authoritative source of the Gospel of the Kingdom in these posts. This is why.
Ray Anderson writes of the witness of Thomas Torrance, ‘The legacy of Thomas Torrance is to be found in his own faithfulness to the gospel of Christ. As a scholar, he sought to discipline the human mind to think in accordance with God’s revealed truth. Woe to anyone who attempted to ”stare him down” on a matter of theological substance. In theological debate he pressed forward with a tenacity that was as uncompromising as it was unrelenting.”
PURE IN HEART
Torrance was not subordinate to a partisan gospel, paralysed by the political spirit or a debilitating relativism that excuses aberrant gospels that are barely Christian. As a true disciple of Jesus he made no compromise with death and its death-dealing ideas that numb the spirit and suffocate the unlimited life that Jesus is for all. Torrance called out ‘other gospels’ for what they were and was not afraid to call-out heresies that had become venerated sacred cows in the mindset of dead men walking.
A PASTOR AND MISSIONARY
Cambria Janae Kaltwasser writes, “Thomas Torrance was a revered theological scholar and writer. Yet, as many have testified, beneath his commanding intellect lay the pious heart of a pastor and missionary. Through his writings and his relationships with students, we catch a glimpse of one captivated by the voice of Jesus Christ. With the death of Torrance in December of 2007, the world lost one of its foremost Christian thinkers, whose theological contribution the Christian community is only beginning to appreciate.” (1).
Christianity that is a fundamentalism or an ideology is proficient at insulating people from encounter with Christ and as a result suffocating the humanity of the Believer – who can make a reasonable representation of a religious figure but never an example of genuine Godliness.
Astute and spiritually discerning people are increasingly perceiving Torrance’s’ teaching as the antidote to legalism, institutionalism and the kind of pragmatism that can make the church a dead tree rather than a tree of life – the leaves of which heal us all and heal the nations.
Professor Thomas Torrance and his brothers represent a variety of theology that is profoundly non-legalistic and intrinsically alive with the being of God.
Spirit and life is the kind of theology that establishes us where we belong in reality and mindset. This the mindset of union with God that is the same kind of union that pertains in the being of God as trinity. It’s a oneness and being part of each other that does not detract from the uniqueness of each but enhances it to reveal them as they truly are. It is this relationship that is God that includes us in Godself. Baxster Kruger, who studied under Professor James Torrance calls this kind of oneness perichoresis, the meaning of which I have enlarged on in other places.
This is the oneness with Christ who joins us to oneness with God and because of this to each other. It heals our alienation from ourselves and others. It is this oneness with God after the pattern of the trinity that enables us to relate to the people of the world, the biosphere and landscape that nourishes us.
The re-creation of the world happens not because we hold landscape or ‘country’ sacred but because in Christ we are one with the being of the universe, one with the logos who created the creation and one with the creation itself because the two have been made one in Christ.
Oneness is based on the reality of trinitarian life gifted to us in Jesus. It is He who is alive and who is life itself – never the abstraction of religion, the burocracy of the church and or the objectifying virus of the law. Christ is our life because only He is life.
“Torrance’s relentless insistence on the active agency of God in all of our knowledge and service acts as a constant guard against the Church’s objectifying tendencies – the human tendency to think of God as “up there”, “out there” and distant from us. There is no “safe distance” from God that humans can achieve, for the relation of creatures to God is inherent and unavoidable.
No one is a spectator. Our unresponsiveness to the presence of God in all aspects of life is simply rebellion and sin. Torrance reminds the Church that all her responses of faith and obedience—her worship, her mission, her preaching, her reading of Scripture are a “knowing with” and a “sharing in” the mission and ministry of Christ. Christ is Mediator of our entire humanity.” (1)
(1) Cambria Janae Kaltwasser, The Princeton Theological Journal, Volume XIV, No. 2, Fall 2008. Issue 39.