Torrance, Universalism and the Limited Atonement

Here is Thomas Torrance commenting on rationalist thinking in regards to trying to articulate issues particular to the extent of the atonement. And then we have Torrance commenting on the inescapable reality of the universal range of the atonement, but not the universal salvation that a rationalist approach must reduce to; which Torrance is, of course, as am I, against! Torrance says:

The rationalism of both universalism and limited atonement

Here we see that man’s proud reason insists in pushing through its own partial insight into the death of the cross to its logical conclusion, and so the great mystery of the atonement is subjected to the rationalism of human thought. That is just as true of the universalist as it is of those who hold limited atonement for in both cases they have not yet bowed their reason before the cross of Christ. (Atonement, 187-88)

This was his concluding remark, he had just finished, previous to this, effectively arguing against both limited atonement and universalism (whether that be of Classic Calvinist or Arminian [or even Barthian] varieties). Now we get into his initial thoughts on the fact that Christ’s death had to be for all; according to both Scripture’s witness, and the ‘inner-logic’ scripture presupposes upon:

(i) Christ’s death for all is an inescapable reality

We must affirm resolutely that Christ died for all humanity — that is a fact that cannot be undone. All men and women were represented by Christ in life and death, in his advocacy and substitution in their place. That is a finished work and not a mere possibility. It is an accomplished reality, for in Christ, in the incarnation and in his death on the cross, God has once and for all poured himself out in love for all mankind, has taken the cause of all mankind therefore upon himself. And that love has once and for all been enacted in the substitutionary work on the cross, and has become fact — nothing can undo it. That means that God has taken the great positive decision for man, the decision of love translated into fact. But because the work and the person of Christ are one, that finished work is identical with the self-giving of God to all humanity which he extends to everyone in the living Christ. God does not withhold himself from any one, but he gives himself to all whether they will or not — even if they will not have him, he gives himself to them, for he has once and for all given himself, and therefore the giving of himself in the cross when opposed by the will of man inevitably opposes that will of man and is its judgement. As we saw, it is the positive will of God in loving humanity that becomes humanity’s judgement when they refuse it. (Thomas F. Torrance, Atonement, 188-89)

It is really hard for people to cope with what Torrance is saying, I think. It kicks against the way that we have been “trained” and “conditioned” to think. All I can say, is that folks should try to imagine a world where doing math for Theology does not exist; and then we’ll all be fine 😉 .

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52 Responses to Torrance, Universalism and the Limited Atonement

  1. Cody Lee says:

    It really doesn’t seem that complicated when I think about it. God has done it all in Christ, even made your descision for Him in your place, yet that doesn’t mean that you will intern make the descision, or just shoot up to heaven when you die.

    I think what helps me the most with this is what Jesus says in John 17,”And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

    Eternal life is about sharing in the relationship of the Triune God of Grace, not about getting a ticket to get into the ‘Big Show’.

    Torrance shows how everything has been done in order for us to participate in this relationship. All that’s left to do is say thank you, and enjoy what you have been given in Christ by the Spirit. I feel like once you get cleared up the fact that what you are given in Christ is not a ticket to heaven primarily, then the problems with God doing everything and me still having a place isn’t really all that problematic.

    You don’t experience the benefit of a relationship unless you actively participate. You can’t just acknowledge that you have been brought into the relationship and stop there, because you were brought in so that you could take part. I think that is the point.


  2. Daniel Cox says:

    try to imagine a world where doing math for Theology does not exist

    Bobby interesting thought. Could you expound more on this statement?


  3. Bobby Grow says:


    Can you clarify what you mean by this:

    You don’t experience the benefit of a relationship unless you actively participate. You can’t just acknowledge that you have been brought into the relationship and stop there, because you were brought in so that you could take part. I think that is the point.


    And what or who is it that motivates someone to participate in the salvation of Christ? I’m not clear on how what you’re saying jives with the categories of Scripture.


    What I’m getting at with that is that Theology should be framed by relational terms instead of analytical or impersonal. So since God is triune and love in his life (and thus personal); then the way we do and think theology should likewise follow suit. In the tradition, or classic approach; we have appealed to substance and/or philosophical metaphysics, which in turn has led to thinking of God in less than personal terms (or mathematical logico-deductive terms). I am also suggesting that since theology is relational that is should be dynamic and not static. Meaning that there is room to grow; we aren’t just transferring theology from one generation to the next to the next. There should be growth and development within theology; this reflects eternal life (Jn 17.3), and it places a great deal of confidence in the fact that God has given his church (Eph 4) what she needs to continue to edified until we all reach the unity of faith that is Christ in consummate form.

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  4. Cody Lee says:

    I mean that what Christ has accomplished through His Incarnation, life death resurection and asscention applies to every singel person who lives, has lived, or ever will live. I mean that all are reconciled, and are brought into the inner circle of the Trinity in Christ. He has lived their life, not just on their behalf, but in their place. All are included, already.

    The Holy Spirit would be the One who is drawing people into the light of the reality that they are included in Christ.


  5. Bobby Grow says:

    What do you do with the reprobate, Cody? I’m just pressing a little (“devil’s advocate”).


  6. Cody Lee says:

    what reprobate? jk;)

    Well, they would be the one’s who want nothing to do with what Christ has done for them. They deny what is true. They are like the dwarfs in Azlan’s country who think they are in a stable. They deny reality. They resist the Spirit. They go against the Love of God, and recieve His love as Wrath. They may spend eternity, in this state, that is the mystery of iniquity that Torrance talks about. This is what he leaves room for, because he will not say that all ‘will’ or ‘must’ believe’ because that would be to fall back into the logico-causal model. Which is what I have come to see is the only way we can say All of God, yet that does not mean, none of man.

    But who knows, maybe like Karl Barth says, maybe the Holy Spirit will have less trouble with them, than He has had with us 🙂


  7. Cody Lee says:

    Torrance says it best here,

    “From beginning to end what Jesus Christ has done for you he has done not only as God but as man. He has acted in your place in the whole range of your human life and activity, including your personal decisions, and your responses to God’s love, and even your acts of faith. He has believed for you, fulfilled your human response to God, even made your personal decision for you, so that he acknowledges you before God as one who has already responded to God in him, who has already believed in God through him, and whose personal decision is already implicated in Christ’s self-offering to the Father, in all of which he has been fully and completely accepted by the Father, so that in Jesus Christ you are already accepted by him. Therefore, renounce yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.”

    And the implications are this, and he says,

    “To preach the Gospel of the unconditional grace of God in that unconditional way is to set before people the astonishingly good news of what God has freely provided for us in the vicarious humanity of Jesus. To repent and believe in Jesus Christ and commit myself to him on that basis means that I do not need to look over my shoulder all the time to see whether I have really given myself personally to him, whether I really believe and trust him, whether my faith is at all adequate, for in faith it is not upon my faith, my believing or my personal commitment that I rely, but solely upon what Jesus Christ has done for me, in my place and on my behalf, and what he is and always will be as he stands in for me before the face of the Father. That means that I am completely liberated from all ulterior motives in believing or following Jesus Christ, for on the ground of his vicarious human response for me, I am free for spontaneous joyful response and worship and service as I could not otherwise be”


  8. Bobby Grow says:


    When you quote could you provide the bibliographic info; at least the name of publication and page number[s]?

    I know what TFT says, I’m just pressing a bit. If you peruse my blog you’ll see that I have plenty of good quotes just like the ones you just provided here 😉 . It’s just that I want to see how what TFT says jives with Scripture. I think it does in the end, but I don’t want to settle on my laurels too much.

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  9. Cody Lee says:

    Also here,

    “Standing in our place” (Lat, vicarius, substitute). Christ in his humanity stands in our place and represents us, and hence the term the “vicarious humanity” of Christ in which the humanity of Christ takes our place and represents us, so that what is true of him is true of us, and what he did in his (our) humanity is ours.

    I might add that means that this is true before and apart from anything you do, even believing, why it’s what Torrance is saying we are to believe in, and by believing in it we are able to experience it by the Spirit. Our faith is therefor in Christ completely. It causes one to trust in Christ and not look to their own faith or repentance for assurance.


  10. Bobby Grow says:


    I really do know what TFT says 😉 . Biblio please …


  11. Cody Lee says:

    I see, sorry.

    The first one is from ‘Mediation of Christ”
    the second is a quote of Torrance’s from Molnar’s book

    Quickly, I think how it what TFT says jives with scripture is the fact that he can hold both facts, the already and the not yet in tension without being contradictory, as other views do, and others hold them together but limit the range. Torrance is able to affirm both without falling into any of these pitfalls.

    The passages of scripture that speak of the accomplished fact of what Christ has done, and speak about it as though it is true for us regardless are accounted for as the Objective reality. Then the passages that call for your faith, repentance, etc. are the Subjective ones where we get to experience the reality.

    Torrance’s view is better than Arminianism on the one hand because they cannot say that what Christ has done is true for you until the existential moment. Though that wouldn’t make sense with certain passages about us dying with Christ. Like in the past when He died, we were there some how. It’s better than the Fed. Calvinist side because he is able to hold to the all passages that all of the early church always knew applied to all. His view cancels out any logical-causalistic way of making what Christ has done for you, cause you to experience it. He can hold to irresistable Grace and Election because God has done it all in Christ, even our believing, and yet still give that human agency where we can make that free response or reject it and choose slavery. Though we are really denying reality, so it’s not like our faith accomplishes anything. Any other view is going to make ‘your’ faith connect you to Christ, or it’s going to limit the range of the atonement or God’s election, and love.

    To me Torrance’s view helps one to actually understand scripture and be more consistant and faithfull with the text.


  12. Cody Lee says:

    I’m sorry just realized you wanted the page numbers for those quotes too 🙂

    Molnar’s book will be page 119

    and Mediation of Christ will be pages 94-95 I think


  13. Cody Lee says:

    Recently I had a conversation with a young man who was somewhat disturbed by my simple declaration that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2COR 5:19) and by the fact that I turned to the folks gathered at our meeting and declared that all without exception had been forgiven and embraced by the Father himself. In the conversation afterwards, I asked the young man, ‘what is the gospel?’ ‘what do you tell people to believe?’ ‘what is the good news?’ He answered, ‘I tell people to believe in Jesus.’ I then asked, ‘believe in what about Jesus?’ His response was telling, ‘I tell people that if they repent and believe in Jesus, they will be forgiven.’ ‘So,’ I said, ‘the object of our faith is not Jesus and our salvation in him, but the possibility that we can be forgiven, if we repent and believe in Jesus. So we are summoned to believe in a Jesus who may be our savior if we repent and believe in him correctly, and in doing so (which we can’t) we actually make him the savior?’

    This is a story Dr. Baxter Kruger tells on his blog. I think this is the problem any other view will lead, or it will limit the atonement, and then some jackwagons will say unlimited atonement and then limit election, so it’s kinda like, what’s the point.


  14. Cody Lee says:

    Sorry, I’ve been commenting too much, but I came across this, and thought it really hit the heart of what Torrance says, and gave scriptures to show how it jives with it. I know you know all this stuff, I’m not trying to teach you anything, if anything you could teach me. Just thought it was good.

    “The phrase jars us even as it resonates with John’s Gospel where Jesus declared, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    And that is precisely the challenge: Truth can set us free—but we can’t always handle the truth! The truth is that in Jesus Christ we are already forgiven, reconciled and beloved of God (Colossians 1:20). But in our world of sin-scarred perceptions, we either do not know the truth, and all too often, even if we have heard the truth, we can’t handle it.
    The truth is that God loves the whole world (John 3:16), that he sent his Son into the world not to condemn it, but to save it (John 3:17), and that in Christ, God was reconciling all things to himself (Colossians 1:20). The truth is that Jesus draws all people to himself (John 12:32), that everything is under his authority (Ephesians 1:10), and that he wants everyone to come to faith (2 Peter 3:9).
    The truth is that Jesus Christ “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). The truth is that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
    The truth is that God’s patience toward sinners is unlimited (1 Timothy 1:15-16). The truth is that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:4).
    All this is how God reveals in the Scriptures his heart toward humanity. God made humans in his own image; they became sinners, alienated from him, and he, loving them intensely even in their sins (Romans 5:6-8), has forgiven and redeemed them through his Son. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father,” Jesus said [see John 14:9].
    When we know God the way he reveals himself, we can say with all assurance of joy, “Therefore, there is [now] no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1). “For God,” Paul wrote, “was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
    That includes everybody, even you and me.
    In the doctrine of the Trinity, God has shown himself to be the God who loves the world and who beckons every person to come to Christ and take part in the joy of life in the household of God. There is no person whom God does not want, whom God does not include, whom God does not love.
    In Christ, we are all freed from the chains of sin to come to the Father whose arms are open wide to receive us, if only we will. Christ has drawn all humans into himself, and in him they can share in his relationship with the Father as the Father’s beloved Son. In Christ, we can know and experience the Father for who he really is as our Creator, Deliverer, Redeemer, Father and Friend.
    But to most of us, all that doesn’t make sense. It can’t make sense. It’s not fair. It lets evildoers off the hook. It makes a mockery of justice. It’s “soft on sin.”
    We understand—we can handle—condemnation, punishment and retribution, but not carte blanche grace, mercy and forgiveness. We understand—we can handle—the kind of “truth” that condemns and punishes sinners, but we have a hard time with the kind of truth that forgives them and sets them free.
    Until, that is, it affects someone we love. When it comes to someone we love, we can understand it; we can handle it. We long to see our loved ones forgiven and set free, if only they would also have a change of heart.
    Well, God loves everybody, and he not only provides the forgiveness and freedom, he provides the new heart. He provides not only grace and mercy; he provides the righteousness of Christ.
    That’s why the gospel is good news. It is the best and only hope for humanity. It is the best and only hope for you and me and everyone we care about. Human beings can never become righteous on their own. But God can, in Jesus Christ, forgive us, heal our minds, and make us righteous.
    That is why we preach the gospel, calling on all people everywhere, as far as the Spirit gives us opportunity, to turn to Christ in faith so they can know him for who he really is and know themselves for who they really are in him. “


  15. Bobby Grow says:


    Thank you for your zeal 🙂 ! I think TFT offers one of the best ways forward that I have come across. I think he has not said everything that needs to be said, but that what he has said is very edifying and worth being constructively engaged!

    You know Kruger is a universalist, right? I also think you need to work more on how it is that you believe human agency, as you say, works within Torrances’s or your theology. You (we) need to be careful not to objectify evertything to the point that to say “human agencey” becomes meaningless. Thanks for the quotes.


  16. Cody Lee says:

    I thought I gave ample room for human agency? I said you must believe if you are to participate, but that your faith isn’t what ‘brings you in’, because Christ has done it all. That is what Torrance says, and I agree. Like I said, anything else makes your faith save you, not Christ, or you will limit the atonement, etc.

    I actually know Dr. Kruger, well I’ve talked to him several times. He is the one who helped me start down this road reading Torrance. No he is not a universalist 🙂 he stands directly in the Torrance tradition. And actually James Torrance said that Dr. Kruger was one of his best students.

    It’s funny because TFT was accused of universalism so much, I actually think that one doesn’t really grasp what he is saying until he says, how the heck is Torrance not a universalist?

    You may be more inclined to what Thomas Smail had to say about Torrance.

    I will quote here from Daniel Thimell

    “It is precisely here that Thomas Smail demurs. Smail, in many ways Tor-
    rance’s ally in a Reformed theological stream mediated through Barth, finds Tor-
    rance less than satisfactory at this point: “It is indeed true that I cannot respond
    by myself till Christ has responded for me; it is also true that I must answer for
    Smail thinks that Torrance’s failure to make room for our individual
    response is part of an inadequate distinction between the work of Christ and the
    work of the Holy Spirit. He further contends that the Holy Spirit “brings Christ’s
    vicarious ‘Yes’ to God on my behalf, and makes it available to me.” He “enables
    me,” which is to say, he “lets me say my ‘Yes’ to his ‘Yes.’”

    Christian Kettler offers an incisive rejoinder, contending that Torrance in-
    deed acknowledges the “importance of the personal response of faith,” but solely
    as a participation in Christ’s vicarious humanity. He notes that for Torrance, the
    human condition is so damaged by sin and death that Christ came to accomplish
    an ontological atonement in the depths of human being, such that “he did not
    merely enable us to respond…. He acts on our behalf, when we are unable, not
    to destroy our responses, but to establish them, in order to provide a basis and
    foundation for them!” Thus, I can respond for “my myself” so long as we add the
    words “in Christ!”


  17. Bobby Grow says:


    Please take what I am saying in regards to providing more room for human agency in the sense that I am intending; let me tell you what I am intending with this caution. It is simply repeating something I once heard that theologian John Webster has said of TFT’s theology (and Webster is highly appreciative of TFT in general); and it is what I have mentioned to you here. The danger is if we squash out any sense of humanity by positing a metaphysical mode of humanity that remains untouched by the proclivities of creation itself. Or in other words, the danger could be that we posit a notion of humanity that remains an abstract “objective” principle and not one that is thus fully and ontologically human. This is where my caution springs from. I think you and I have more room to think on this is all. Merely asserting that you or I have adequately thought out the nuance of this, by quoting TFT or others in the affirmation; isn’t what I am after with my “caution” or call for a little more “sobriety”. I am just saying that putting on the breaks once in awhile is always a good thing; we can often get too much speed up and fail to recognize that we are actually running right through traffic signals. I am suggesting that you (and I) make sure that we take our time here. It is not enough, then, to merely repeat our beloved TFT. I’m just sayin’, Cody; take it for what it’s worth.

    That’s interesting, in re. to Kruger; a mentor of mine (other than Myk) has spent considerable amount of time (relatively speaking) in conversation with Kruger (in the recent past). His sense, in discussion with Kruger, is that Kruger is a universalist (like a hopeful universalist, so called). I am sympathetic to universalism; I almost became one myself after I read Greg MacDonald’s (Robin Parry’s) “Evangelical Universalist.” I can see how folks get there, but I ultimately cannot. I am still not sure about your assessment of Kruger; because it’s not only my “mentor’s” assessment that Kruger is a universalist, but also others who I have run across who know of or actually know, Kruger.

    I realize folks believe that TFT’s theology leads to universalism (some do anyway), but of course that is to fail to read and listen to what TFT said and wrote. That is to place the logico-deductive constraint upon TFT’s approach and conclude something that TFT’s theology never required given his own self-articulated prolegomena.

    Cody, you wrote:

    I said you must believe if you are to participate, but that your faith isn’t what ‘brings you in’, because Christ has done it all. That is what Torrance says, and I agree. Like I said, anything else makes your faith save you, not Christ, or you will limit the atonement, etc.

    I think what you quote from Kettler is different than what you are saying; and this is my point and push back to you, Cody. I don’t disagree that Jesus has done it all; this is what makes “all of grace” “all of Jesus” so to speak. But it is that “space” the one that we find distinct between Jesus and us (the one that sees Jesus as Son by nature and we by grace and adoption) that is all important. I don’t hear you articulating this critical point of differentiation in what you’ve been saying; and that’s why I think the “way” you are saying this is “at least” too quick. I am just saying that we need to be careful to articulate the wrinkles (and notice them) in TFT’s trajectory.


  18. Cody Lee says:

    “the danger could be that we posit a notion of humanity that remains an abstract “objective” principle and not one that is thus fully and ontologically human”

    I really don’t see how I am doing this? Maybe you think that you are only this new humanity in Jesus with the possibility of never becoming it yourself? Well maybe to a certain extent, but all will be resurected remember, so even though it is hidden now what we shall be, we shall be. It’s not a different kind of humanity, I’m affraid this may be a straw man.

    Well I didn’t say exactly what Kettler said, but it was the same context. Look, If Christ has done it all, even my believing, and has brought me with Him, Which is what that would mean, and Kettler would agree, then my faith could only be a participation in Christ’s faith. Since it is His faith that Saves me, not mine, that’s the point. I really don’t see where I’m getting them wrong?


  19. Cody Lee says:

    I really don’t guess I know what your after.

    How do you understand the Subjective aspect?


  20. Bobby Grow says:


    I am simply saying that we need to be careful; I am not necessarily critiquing you personally. Don’t you see how it could be possible to over-objectify the humanity in Christ by positing an abstract metaphysical principle of personhood that potentially functions ‘behind the back’ of the rest of humanity? I think we need to be careful to attend to how representation, imputation and impartation of Christ’s righteousness relates to or undergirds Spirit breathed responses from Christ’s humanity for us. I simply noting a counter-point that calls for caution in regards to appropriating what Torrance is saying. I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t appropriate what TFT says (I do), but that we should do so in a “critical” fashion. I am introducing you to an idea that others have introduced to me; others who know TFT quite well, along with the theology of Karl Barth and others —others who are committed to “actualism.” Don’t take what I am saying about what you’re saying as a personal attack, but instead, simply, “push-back.”

    I am still working out how I understand the “subjective” aspect; that’s what my yet future PhD diss will be working out, so I don’t have a quick answer for you. I will say though that it wouldn’t work out so well—if I ever get to do that PhD—for me to not ask the kinds of questions I am asking you (which are really ones I am asking myself).

    Having said this; I would say that I think it is important to be clear about the distinction between the Son’s relation to the Father by nature and ours by grace; I think this grace by the Spirit is the “space” wherein our ‘particular’ responses from Christ’s humanity make sense. But I am not altogether happy with this, it seems too oversimplified. But maybe this is it! So I operate with some tension still in order to go “deeper” on this topic, Cody. That’s all I’m after, and all you’re getting from me in my probing back to you.


  21. Cody Lee says:

    “Having said this; I would say that I think it is important to be clear about the distinction between the Son’s relation to the Father by nature and ours by grace”

    Who disagrees with this?

    “I think this grace by the Spirit is the “space” wherein our ‘particular’ responses from Christ’s humanity make sense.”

    Huh? Christ responded in our place already, our response is a participation in what He has already done.
    I think what you are having a problem with is what everyone has a problem with Torrance. That is, how if Christ has done my part, then do I have to do anything? You then logically diduce from the fact that you do that somehow it’s not really true about you yet personally until you respond by the Spirit, but that is what Torrance was dogmatically against, because it throws the weight back upon the sinner to have faith. The beauty in what Torrance has shown us is that we are there, and we need to realize it, and enjoy it. It’s really that simple. David Torrance has acutally said it like that. Alienation of the mind is what we are struggling with now, sin has been defeated, and you will partake of the new humanity at the resurection wether you like it or not. Your expereince of it though is up to you, but not anything else. Ontologically you are not who you seem to be now.

    Like I said before on another post, and please take this as my ‘push back’ in order to go deeper as well, I think you are giving the subjective aspect objective characteristics.

    Not so clearly spelled out but I think that is where your going. You don’t like it when I speak of everyone being already included. Though that is exactly the point with all of Torrance’s theology, that is where all of it leads, so I don’t know how you can even hold to any of it, if you don’t hold to that. That was his point in going back to Irenaeus and Athanasius and Cyril, etc.

    “. . . inasmuch as humanity is saved, it is fitting that he who was created the original human should be saved. For it is too absurd to maintain that he who was so deeply injured by the enemy, and was the first to suffer captivity, was not rescued by Him who conquered the enemy, but that his children were — those whom he had begotten in the same captivity. Neither would the enemy appear to be as yet conquered, if the old spoils remained with him. ~ Against All Heresies, Book 3, Chap. 23, Para. 2 .”


  22. Cody Lee says:

    Pope St. Damasus ca. 305-384
    “If anyone does not say that there are three Persons of Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Spirit, equal, always living, embracing all things visible and invisible, ruling all, judging all, giving life to all, making all, and saving all: he is a heretic.” (The Tome of Damasus, 21)

    Therefore, as I have already said, He caused man (human nature) to cleave to and to become one with God. For unless man had overcome the enemy of man, the enemy would not have been legitimately vanquished. And again: unless it had been God who had freely given salvation, we could never have possessed it securely. And unless man had been joined to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and men, by His relationship to both, to bring both into friendship and concord, and present man to God, while He revealed God to man. For, in what way, could we be partakers of the adoption of sons, unless we had received from Him through the Son that fellowship, which refers to Himself, unless His Word, having been made flesh, had entered into communion with us? Wherefore also He passed through every stage of life, restoring to all communion with God” (Against the Heresies, III.18.7).

    The body of the Word, then, being a real human body, in spite of its having been uniquely formed from a virgin, was of itself mortal and, like other bodies, liable to death. But the indwelling of the Word loosed it from this natural liability, so that corruption could not touch it. Thus is happened that two opposite marvels took place at once: the death of all was consummated in the Lord’s body; yet, because the Word was in it, death and corruption were in the same act utterly abolished.”
    ― St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation

    “For the Lord touched all parts of creation, and freed and undeceived them all from every deceit.”
    ― St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation


  23. Cody Lee says:

    One thing I wanted to expound on.

    You talk about the need to be careful less we make Christ’s humanity some sort of abstract humanity that can somehow have the possibility of opperating behind the back of the rest of humanity.

    I like the story where someone asked Torrance if he was born again, and when, and he replied when Christ was born, and when He was resurected from the grave. Then he said the real Tom Torrance was hid with Christ, and would be revealed one day.

    To me this keeps that from happening. You see the objective reality is that we are not who we seem to be, anyone. Our lives are hid with Christ, and we will all be resurected one day, and share in that new humanity wether we like it or not. Now some may be able to continue to reject God’s love, which seems to be the case, but that will not change at all who they are and what has been done. Infact their descision for God has already been made for them, though they choose not to participate in it.

    There is no humanity opperating behind our backs, but there is the fact that we don’t look like who we really are. We are in Christ and what is true about His humanity is true about us, yes we are adopted and not sons by nature, although I don’t see how that has anything to do with this topic, because for me that was never an issue. Anyway, that reality of who we are will be revealed, it will not stay hidden forever, and that means everyone who has every lived.


  24. Bobby Grow says:


    You are really over-reading me. I am asking a basic anthropological question, and how that might flesh out “in light of TFT’s” theology. It seems that you haven’t read me for long enough to adequately appreciate my appreciation and appropriation of TFT’s theological trajectory. All of the things you are highlighting are basic teachings that anyone who has read TFT, almost at all, will understand; and if they are like me, they will appreciate them to the point of appropriation. But, Cody, I am also interested in working constructively with TFT (and not just TFT).

    You seem to be suggesting things about what I think, that I actually don’t think. You seem to be defending TFT to someone who is a friend and student of TFT; me! I understand your zeal for this, but I also think that we simply need to move forward in slow and careful ways; that’s all I’m trying to do. You keep suggesting that I am attributing objective qualities to the subjective; I find that rather odd. I haven’t articulated anything as of yet, all I have done is ask a question about how our humanity finds meaningful location from Christ’s humanity. You quoted me saying: “I think this grace by the Spirit is the “space” wherein our ‘particular’ responses from Christ’s humanity make sense.”, and then responded with “Huh?” What is wrong with what I said here in lieu of TFT’s theology? I said “from Christ’s humanity,” and “by the Spirit.” This seems to fit nicely with TFT.

    Anyway, Cody; I just think you’re over-reading me.


  25. Cody Lee says:

    “I think this grace by the Spirit is the “space” wherein our ‘particular’ responses from Christ’s humanity make sense.”

    Can you just expound on this a little and help me to understand what you mean?


  26. Cody Lee says:

    you said, “Let me ask you this, Cody; do you think that Jesus needed to be enlightened, noetically, in order to become the “saved one?” Or do you think there was something back behind intellectual awareness that serves as the ground for salvation in the humanity of Christ? It seems to me that what has shaped the ‘kind’ of salvation that Jesus is in his homoousios person; is his unfettered communion, through union, with the Father and Holy Spirit. Or, his life of self-giving love for the other. If this is the shape and ground of salvation exemplified and ‘actualised’ in the person of Christ; then I wonder how this would affect how we would understand salvation itself, and our inclusion within salvation? Is the problem just the ‘alienation’ of the mind (as both Barth and TFT would say), or is there more (not less) to it than this? I want to say there is more to this than simply discussing the issue of the ‘mind’ and becoming ‘aware’ of our salvation in Christ. While this noetic aspect is certainly a part of our self-knowledge of salvation; theologically, I cannot see this as robust enough of an answer.”

    I’ve already answered back to this but let me say something else. For one, of course there was more going on in the incarnation than Jesus changing our minds. Sin had infected our humanity and needed to be wiped out. He has done this though, and not to some abstract humanity as you have pointed out, but ours, not just humanity, but people. Us, we were in Christ and still are. I feel like now alienation of the mind is the problem, because ontologically we’re already brand spakin’ new, and even the alienation is fixed in Christ and that is how by the Spirit we can come to even know any of this.

    I don’t see you affirming the reality of our salvation apart from our descision, and apropriation of it. That is why I keep pressing back. It seems like you are doing something tricky, where people are only reconciled ‘in principle’ like you have said before, and not in reality. I know Torrance would disagree with that, and if it’s true that it’s a reality, then the problem would be our mind.

    you also said this, “BUT, TFT did believe that there are reprobate; so then, how the reprobate become delimited from the universal atonement remains somewhat of a mystery”

    If you mean ‘cut off’ by delimited, then you are misunderstanding Torrance. They can never be outside of Christ, even in hell. What is true about them, and what has been acomplished for them can never be undone.

    See I think you aren’t really giving proper attention to the objective aspect of atonement.


  27. Bobby Grow says:


    I’ll get back to you later this evening on expounding that little quote from me that you asked me to develop. Myk has some good stuff on that in his book on TFT’s theosis.

    My concerns, in re. to your second longer comment here are present. I think it would be better though if you refrained from the conclusion that I don’t understand TFT simply because I am raising some “critical” questions. I have addressed the things you say that I don’t understand over and again over the years here at the blog; you haven’t been reading me long enough to say what you’re saying about my reception of TFT’s broader oeuvre. The issue for me isn’t “giving proper attention to the objective aspect of atonement;” instead, my questions have to do with how that fleshes out subjectively. There is a reason that I am not happy with resting, simply, on a noetic understanding of atonement. For 1) this presupposes a certain kind of anthropology, what has been called an intellectualist anthropology, wherein the mind/intellect is seen as the defining feature of humanity (in a faculty psychology construal); 2) the Bible, like at the end of John 3, has Jesus saying that the reason that humanity does not turn to Him is because the “love” the darkness rather than the light—this would suggest that there is something more going on than simply making a decision (a constructive way of dealing with this would be to work back into the humanity of Christ what he states as the problem for humanity “an incurvature of the heart of man”); 3) The Apostle Paul speaks in these same terms post resurrection; as if the problem for humanity is that they are “constrained by their own affections,” or that we need the “love of God” shed abroad in our hearts — further, that there are folks who have the Spirit (thus are Christians like Romans 8); and those who don’t. This reality causes me to wonder in what sense humanity can be said to be fully “actually” reconciled w/o the Spirit. How would you answer that question, Cody? Again, remember, I am asking these questions in order to see if I can punch any holes in TFT’s framework (from Scripture, to boot).

    If I am failing to give proper attention to the objective (which thus far I’m not sure how that is — I’m just asking questions); then I think we could fairly say that you are giving improper attention to the subjective. I am only being a good “Reformed” Christian Cody; I am testing all things, holding fast to the good,” or sola scriptura.

    I’ll respond more later; I will give you some stuff from Myk’s book too. In response to your first comment above.


  28. Cody Lee says:

    Thank you

    you said.” further, that there are folks who have the Spirit (thus are Christians like Romans 8); and those who don’t. This reality causes me to wonder in what sense humanity can be said to be fully “actually” reconciled w/o the Spirit. How would you answer that question, Cody?”

    I love this question because it is one that I struggled with when I first began to read Torrance. I saw him saying all this was true about us before we believe, but then I was like, well what about the Spirit? Isn’t there a point where our status is changed in the present because the Spirit comes to us?

    I think Torrance adresses this problem though. See TFT says we must give proper attention to that fact that the Spirit ‘has’ been poured out upon all flesh, and that Christ is drawing all men to Himself.

    For one, I do not see the reception of the Holy Spirit as ‘spatial’ but ‘relational’ because our ontologic position has been changed by Christ for us already. The atonement was not just noetic, it was ontologic, our humanity has been made new, not just our mind as if you could separate the two. That being said, the sheer fact that the Logos is the one in whom all creation is held together, and the Son is Homoousios with the Spirit, you cannot have one without the other. Now I think we will find that at the moment of our conversion, the Spirit has been at work a long time before we ever realized it.

    You are right, we must be both carnal and spiritual united to Christ. That is what the Spirit is doing, as He has been poured out upon all flesh. All flesh, Christ received the Spirit into our humanity for us, and we share in His reception of the Spirit. As the Logos He does not need to receive the Spirit, He is homoousios with Him, but in our place He received Him for us. Now that the Spirit has been poured out, He opens our eyes to a reality. We cannot come to faith without the Spirit. Christ mediates the Spirit to us, and the Spirit mediates Christ to us.

    Our status has been changed, and the Spirit has been poured out upon all flesh, turning on the lights for us so that we can see


  29. Cody Lee says:

    We must keep in mind that ‘ontologically’ we are united to Christ via the Incarnation. That Christ has lived our life in our place, without our permission, thereby taking us with him, and not just ‘in principle’, in reality. That is what scripture affirms. Our life is hidden in Christ, now the Spirit’s work seems to me to be enlightening us to that reality in order for us to participate.

    And it is going to be hard to talk about people who have , and don’t have the Spirit since He has been poured out upon all flesh. Now I think when we accept what He is doing in that free response that He moves us to, that we go from one sort of presence to another sort of presence that is more ‘relational’, not that we cause that to happen with our response, but that through our response we subjectively enter into that relationship. This is the point of you’ve been reconciled therefor be reconciled. You are, therefor live like it.


  30. Bobby Grow says:


    I’m starting to not understand you; you’re speaking to me as if I have never read TFT, thought through TFT, or even appropriated TFT to a large extent. I am not really interested in having what TFT has said clarified; I know what he articulates, I’ve read a substantial amount of his corpus (mostly his books vs journal essays).

    You have somewhat polarized me into a corner, but you aren’t really grasping where I am coming from. You keep referring to this ‘principle’ vs. ‘reality’ thing with me in regards to TFT’s view of the ontological atonement etc. Why? I don’t make that distinction with TFT; like I said, all I am doing is trying to ask “critical” questions—which you’re not (at that stage apparently), you’re, from what I’ve seen thus far, are simply parroting TFT. Like I said quite awhile ago to you; I too can parrot TFT with the best of them. You presume too much, Cody!

    Having said that; I don’t buy your attempt to provide resolution to the issue I have presented relative to the ‘Holy Spirit’s’ presence. I also don’t think your spatial/relational nuance clears things up any better. The issue is that Scripture says something, and this seems to conflict (at least) with what you’re saying. Thus far I haven’t seen you attempt to deal with what Scripture discloses prima facie; meaning, Scripture presupposes that to have the Spirit (individually) requires ingression on the part of the recipient. It doesn’t seem to appeal to the distinction that you are trying to draw; so this presents a tension that you (or I) have to over-come. Suzanne McDonald in her book Re-imaging Election develops this point about the Spirit as she constructively works through folks like Karl Barth, John Owen, NT Wright, Miroslav Volf, Stanley Grenz, et al. Anyway, I think what she writes on this point (about the Spirit), in the context of Karl Barth’s approach (which would then indirectly apply to TFT), is apropos here. Her basic point is the one I am also drawing attention to. It’s worthwhile to consider “from Scripture”. I am not “just” interested in what TFT says on this, Cody; I know what he says. I am also interested, contructively, in how all things being equal can work together.


  31. Cody Lee says:



  32. Bobby Grow says:


    You might be interested in this discussion hosted by my friend, Darren:

    Also, you need to understand something; when I blog, I am often simply thinking out-loud. I am not giving my positions, per se, I am thinking them through here at the blog. Hopefully this caveat will help you realize that I don’t need convincing about TFT’s approach, and further; that I don’t need the basics of what he teaches taught to me. Instead, in your conversation with me, I think it would be better if you wrote in a way that presumes that I know what TFT teaches, and this interact with me from that vantage point. I am not trying to bring Torrance down or something, but I do want to make sure that what I take from TFT is sound. I have already accepted his notion of the ontological atonement, his vicarious humanity doctrine, his Trinitarian doctrine, his “analogy of faith” approach, his theological science, his kata physin, etc. NOW I am simply working from within these parameters and asking questions that may or may not be answered in a satisfactory way by TFT. Even Myk is “critical” of TFT and the absence of his development in the are of the Holy Spirit. This is a deficit that I think we can work “from” TFT in fruitful ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Cody Lee says:

    but is that ingression subjective? The real ingression would be Christ’s on our behalf, it keeps coming back to that. That is the ontology, that is why I don’t feel that you understand what I am saying.


  34. Cody Lee says:

    Subjective- term used for thought based on human opinion, on the views of the thinker or human subject, and not based on the object.

    Objective- based on the object, true to reality, adjective used to describe the faithfulness of disciplines or human thought to the nature of reality.

    Ontological- to do with ‘being’, involving the nature of things in their being or inner reality and essence, hence real, essential, grounded on reality. An onotological relation is a connection or relation of real being to something, one grounded on being and reality, or simply ‘real’.

    This is the context in which I am using these terms, and how Torrance uses them. In this context I don’t see you giving place to the onltological relationship between humanity and Christ.


  35. Cody Lee says:

    That blog post you suggested is pretty good. I like what he has to say.

    “I think the implied distinction between christology and pneumatology, however, is false: the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and the fact that the Spirit has His own mission or work shouldn’t suggest to us that this is a “second work” that is separate from the one work of redemption. That work is accomplished by Christ at all points, not by Christ and the Spirit working as a tag team to cover the objective and subjective poles.”

    Especially this. In your critique of Torrance’s pneumatology I actually think you are making a second work. Your not satisfied with the full accomplishent already being true for everyone in reality.


  36. Bobby Grow says:


    Please, please, please; stop (I don’t mean commenting)! I have not critiqued Torrance (formerly), I have not declared a position other than what you can glean from what I’ve written (primarily my “EC Themes”); you are pushing way too hard my brother! Remember, this is a blog; you’re taking some of this way too far and fast. You’re an interesting guy, Cody. I understand that you’re excited about TFT (so am I), but you need to cool your jets. I am trying to stay calm and collected in my responses back to you; but your continual suggestion that I misunderstand TFT etc is starting to bother me a bit. The fact that I am offering any kind of “critical” reflection pace TFT; presupposes that I do understand him. I apparently understand him well enough that Myk Habets asked me to co-edit/author a book with him grounded in the theology of TFT (at least that’s the direction both Myk and I come from). I’ve been reading TFT for about 4 to 5 years now (not to mention secondary books on his theology like from Colyer, Molnar, Habets and then the journal, Participatio).

    I understand what you’re saying, Cody! What I don’t think you’re understanding, because you haven’t read me enough (obviously), is that I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of the ontological atonement, etc. Do you wrestle with the Scripture’s at all, Cody? Or do you simply cipher everything you read now, in Scripture, through TFT’s theology? If so, this isn’t good practice, and I am positive not one that TFT would encourage whatsoever. Your question about “ingression” illustrates my point. That is a legitimate question to ask; the text forces us to ask that (esp. in Paul’s Romans 8 development). How we answer that will certainly be shaped by multiple things (like prior theological commitments, exegetical practice, etc.)

    I will say though, Cody, that I think you need to look further into TFT’s pneumatology; I’m curious, what have you read on that topic?


  37. Cody Lee says:

    No I don’t cipher everything I read through Torrance. I have read the scriptures through many times since being illumined by the Spirit at age 7. I know all the arguements about soteriology. The High Calvinist, Moderate Calvinist, Semi Pelagian, Arminian, flat out Palagian, etc. I pray and seek the Lord daily. What I have found in Torrance’s theology, and let me tell you it was providential for me because no one introduced me to Torrance,is a way to hold the tensions in scripture together that actually make sense, and in no way, as far as I have seen, leads one to make assertions that are contradictory to scripture, which from my experience is what all of views do. Torrance has helped me tramendously.

    Don’t get so up tight, I’m not attacking you personally, I’m just being honest. I don’t know much.
    I probly just don’t really understand what you are saying.


  38. Cody Lee says:

    One other thing I might add. I am also going back to the fathers, and reading Irenaeus, Athanasius, Cyril, Nazianzen, etc. I’m not so nieve to think that we don’t carry some form of understanding to the scriptures with us that we read into them, or through. After all isn’t that why Calvin said he wrote the Institutes, to give us glasses? We must see how others have interpreted the text. That is what Torrance has done, and that seems to be how he has come to his conclusions, as have I, via him, and the fathers. When we see obvious passages that speak of the objectiveness of what Christ has accomplished,and then turn around and say things that say we must do something, you are forced to try and understand how this can be. That’s what we do, so in regards to your ‘ingression’ question, I think I gave a pretty doctrinally sound answer. One that maybe I have gotten from Torrance via the fathers, but it’s no different than what anyone else does or ever has done. You hear something someone teaches, you test it, pray, and if you agree, you apply. You do the same thing, so please don’t mock or belittle me as if I have just latched onto some random theologian and hang on his every word. I happen to agree with Torrance, because from what I know of the Scriptures, it makes sense.


  39. Bobby Grow says:


    I’m not “up-tight,” but I do take some issue when someone I hardly know (you 😉 ) comes on my blog and tells me I don’t understand Torrance. It is possible that I don’t understand Torrance, but at this point, highly unlikely. You’re lucky you didn’t come across me a few years ago; I probably would’ve been really “up-tight,” then (or argumentative) — this is nothing 🙂 . That’s awesome that you have been saturated in the Scriptures, and have known Jesus for such a long time. My experience is very similar; except I was 3.5 when I received Christ. I am very glad that you were led to TFT; I am glad that I was too. I can’t name one theologian who has single-handedly rocked my world more than Thomas Torrance.


  40. Cody Lee says:

    take a gander at this, and tell me what you think, I think it’s like 9 parts but this one seems sort of on subject for us 😉


  41. Bobby Grow says:

    My intent was not to mock you, Cody; instead it was to challenge your response to me. It doesn’t sound like you’re even attempting to deal with the language of Scripture. I do think it is very possible to “theologically exegetically” read all the passages that speak of humanity individually through the lens provided by the vicarious humanity of Christ; the way TFT does. This is the way I read it myself. But of course there is always my Augustinian influences lurking in the background, and it is these kinds of impuleses that cause me to think about TFT in the way that I have been throughout the course of our discussion on this topic. I think about anthropological questions, sometimes, from a certain vantage point; a faculty psychology mindset (affections, mind, will). And yet, it is these that TFT would eschew. I will continue to seek to ‘personalise’ TFT’s framework through more thought and work in this area, Cody. I think an area lacking in TFT’s approach is that it lends itself to intellectualist interpretations; even though I believe that love and grace are really what are at the core of Torrance’s christological-anthropology in Christ. I still think that the beauty of what TFT has articulated needs to be unpackaged in a way that that beauty can radiate in ways that cause worship and devotion. Since Torrance wrote as a scholar (most often); we need pastor-theologians to go about doing that. I think James and David Torrance, along with Andrew Purves (an author in our book) all have gone along way in providing this kind of pastoral touch to TFT’s “scientific” theology. Anyway, that’s really what is motivating me, Cody. I have pastoral concerns, beyond just academic ones; and I realize many Torranceans share this same concern for presenting what TFT has articulated in ways that provide for a thick understanding of the life of God in Christ which is love!


  42. Bobby Grow says:


    Yes, I’ve read this from Martin before; thank you. I think he captures what TFT believes just right; no problems with what he wrote there. In fact I think I will repost something I have written on the vicarious humanity of Christ.


  43. Cody Lee says:

    In your critical assessment of Torrance, would you say the difference between the reprobate and the Christians is ontological?

    And then at the point of conversion one is ontologically contected to Christ
    via the Holy Spirit?


  44. Bobby Grow says:


    No, and this is where you’ve been mis-reading me. I think we are all ontologically given reality in the humanity of Christ—he as the archetype of what it means to be human—he being the imago Dei and we being given recreated life in the imago Christi that he is (I see Colossians 1.13ff as the locus classicus on this, or classic location for substantiating this theological reality). I, along with TFT, would simply say that the fact that there are reprobate in light of what Christ has done is a surd.

    Does that help to clarify any further? Also see my most recent post.


  45. Cody Lee says:

    That’s good to know 🙂 ‘surd’ would be a good word. That’s what I’ve been saying all along. Everyone is included, and so I think our pneumatology should start there. Then the problem now is really ‘noetic’ and yet we live in the time between the times where the new reality is constantly breaking into ours. The Spirit is opening eyes and hearts so that people can embrace and live into that reality. The connection at that point is ‘subjective’, meaning our experiece of an already existant reality. Recieving the Spirit would then be more relational than spatial to me at that point, since the Spirit has been poured out upon all flesh and is drawing all men to Christ. I would say though that it is possible to resist the Spirit and therefor the reprobate would be like those dwarfs in Narnia who refuse to believe they are not in a stable though they have been brought into the Kingdom.

    Did you mean the post about your new book?


  46. Bobby Grow says:

    Hey Cody,

    No silly 😉 , this post:

    Yes, your summary sounds what our dear TFT teaches us. I still think talk about the Spirit has more room to grow in TFT’s theology; but the general trajectory as you note is provided for in seminal form. Good words.


  47. Hey guys! First let me begin by saying your comments back and forth have not been wasted by any means. I am new to Torrance, and Bobby, I have been perusing your stuff for the last few months. And Cody, thanks! You have actually given me a few foundational nuggets to help me understand a bit more of what you (Bobby) have been writing for years here.

    So initially-thank you both for the work back and forth here.

    Bobby-thanks for pressing Cody to slow down and really take a second to chew on the mystery between our relational response to the obvious universal atonement that we have in the work of Christ. Cody, I also understand the zeal and the seeming common sense that stems from what you are seeing and understanding. I want to be intellectually honest but at the same time am learning to be perfectly content with swimming in the tension of mystery. I take it that “surd” essentially equates mystery right? Sorry-not the wordsmith that my wife is!

    My thoughts really revolve around the anthropological makeup of humanity and hopefully it won’t detract too much from the conversation. I see a tri-chotomous view of humanity in the text; body, soul and spirit. (Heb 4:12, 1 Thess 5:23)

    Hopefully we don’t part ways on that tri-chotomous view, but it seems to me to explain the “Great Exchange” best as our human spirits; dead in trespasses and sins (Rom 3:23, Eph 2:1), by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3) were crucified in Christ (Rom 6:3-11) and that we (all of humanity) we’re raised to new life in Christ, and exchanged our lives for the life of Christ via the indwelling Spirit of God (Ro 8:11)
    Our spirits have been made new in Christ (meaning God’s Spirit has come and taken permanent residence in us) while our bodies (vehicle for expression) and our souls (feelings, will, emotions) continue to be offered the free will choice of walking after the flesh or after the spirit.

    I define flesh as the old ways or patterns by which we attempted to get our needs supplied apart from seeking Christ and trusting Him to be our needs met.

    Please tear into me if need be, but what Cody posited earlier, “And that is precisely the challenge: Truth can set us free—but we can’t always handle the truth! The truth is that in Jesus Christ we are already forgiven, reconciled and beloved of God (Colossians 1:20). But in our world of sin-scarred perceptions, we either do not know the truth, and all too often, even if we have heard the truth, we can’t handle it.”

    I would suggest that we struggle to believe the truth of what Christ has done for us, in us and now desires to do through us is due to the fact that our body and soul have for so long been trained and patterned by a fallen world wooed by fallen voices that now God is wooing us back to Him. The mystery of the Gospel then becomes not JUST what Christ has done for us but what He is doing in us and through us. This is the mystery of the Gospel, “Christ in you, the hope of glory Col 1:27”

    Thanks for bearing with my rampant thoughts. I don’t usually write for fear of my yet to be developed theology.

    Gentlemen, fire away!


  48. Cody Lee says:

    Cameron, that’s great, glad it was of some help! 🙂
    I wouldn’t say the problem with humanity was our ‘human spirits’. I think this is a very ‘dualistic’ way of understanding what happened. You shouldn’t seperate the body and soul, as if something can happen to one that doesn’t happen to the other. The ‘whole’ of our humanity became corrupted, and that was the point of the Eternal Logos taking upon Himself a complete humanity. Body, soul, will, etc. He has redeemed the ‘whole’ of us, and not just part of us. The ‘vicarious humanity’ of Christ that you hear so much of in Torrance includes all aspects of our humanity. All of it has been redeemed in Christ. There is a mystery of how this can be and yet not really look like it, but Torrance sort of explains this from what I can see as the fact that God is not in our space/time boundaries and so He is free to operate outside of them even inside of them, or something like that.

    Remember also that the Spirit’s work is not something different from the Son’s. He is not doing something other than what the Son has done. The Spirit comes to us and enlightens our minds in order that we may see what is true for us, and enables us to participate in that reality.

    Torrance says it’s the whole of us that has come under the judgement of the Cross, and it is the whole of us that has been united to Christ, and that is who we are wether or not we look that way. The Spirit helps us to take part in that reality, not make it a reality, it already is.


  49. Cody-
    “The ‘vicarious humanity’ of Christ that you hear so much of in Torrance includes all aspects of our humanity. All of it has been redeemed in Christ. There is a mystery of how this can be and yet not really look like it”

    This is my point. The mystery of how this can be and not yet really look like it is brought into a clearer focus when we are able to acknowledge that while throughout Scripture God deals with the whole man, He also addresses the distinctive areas of man. We see no conflict in accepting both perspectives since together they describe diversity within unity.

    In the Garden, God commanded Adam not to eat from the tree…for in the day that He ate from it he would surely die-Ge 2:17 We know Adam rebelled and ate from the tree yet he did not incur a physical death. We know he died spiritually. Years later, physical death occurred. Although Adam reaped the full consequences of sin, there was a definite distinction in the occurrence of the consequences for Adam’s spirit and his body.

    Romans 6:6…our old man was crucified with Him…Of course we both know it is a mystery how, when none of us were physically alive 2000+ years ago, yet we were still crucified with Christ upon His cross. God’s Word says we were crucified-yet it wasn’t a physical death but a spiritual. If we don’t acknowledge a distinct spiritual aspect of humanity as well as a soulical and physical, then what really happened in the garden and at the cross?

    Cody, you would agree that we use the word “I” often and in a number of ways. When you say that I have been hit, you of course are referring to your physical-ness, we mean our body has been hit not our spirit. Or when we say I am hurting we may mean we are sad but not that our body hurts. It’s obvious that we speak of ourselves as functioning in different dimensions of our personhood.

    The reason for my rantings is simply this-I agree with you that God deals with us wholly. But unless we understand how God deals with the various parts of our being, we are unlikely to enter into the fullness of life that He desires for us. If we fail to apprehend the truth that we are righteous because God has birthed within us a new, righteous spirit, created in his likeness, we will still see ourselves as sinners, opposed to God at the core of our being because our experience, our thoughts and even our feelings on many days don’t seem righteous.
    Likewise if we do not understand that sin continues to reside in our bodily members, but not in our spirit, we will continue to live in condemnation when we sin. We will never have a Scriptural perspective that sin which dwells in our members is not who we truly are (Ro 17:17,20).

    God indeed deals with us as whole persons, but His work of salvation does not have the same timetable for all parts of our being, because, as you said, He is timeless and dwells outside of space and time. For instance, though we have been made whole in our spirit, (Col 2:10) we have clearly not been made whole in our bodies. The day will indeed come when we will receive our imperishable bodies (1 cor 15)

    I don’t speak of a Greek dualism or gnosticism here, rather I acknowledge what Paul acknowledged when he called us to look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are unseen. (2 Cor 4;18) The unseen is eternal the seen is temporary. Two realms, both vitally important to God because he created them both. This is why Christians are so often trying to become something that they already are. As we know and rest in the unseen and eternal truth of what Christ has done for us and in us, God manifests this truth in the seen and temporary, in the here and now.
    For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14) God is seemingly perfecting the perfect and growing us up into the reality of who we already are in Christ. Where does my responsibility come into all of this…well that is where I am treading lightly as it seems Bobby is…

    And again-I am excited that I have a place to dialogue this with people who at least believe that God is love and His intent has always been to reconcile humanity back to Himself.

    grace & peace,


  50. Bobby Grow says:

    Hey Cameron,

    Glad to hear from you; thanks for being a reader, and for finally coming out of your “lurkerhood” 😉 .

    I am not trichotomous, but I can see how you get there from a straightforward read of Scripture. The way you are parsing things, in the history, relates to what is called a “tripartite faculty psychology” (which provides an anthropology in terms of the affections, mind, will). I just prefer to talk about man as integrated whole, with the realization that there is the Pauline “inner-man” and “outer-man,” but that both are inextricably related. But, I do think this highlights something that has been going on in the earlier exchange between Cody and myself. I was appealing to my background and training in Augustinian thinking; in particular how the affections function as the defining feature of man in the Scriptures (i.e. heart/motive language). I still have not fully eschewed this paradigm, and so I will continue to seek how to constructively place this in conversation with TFT’s theology. I think Torrance could use a little help in this area (i.e. developing a theological anthropology, he assumes one more than articulates one—Barth probably does better in this area). So, down the road, Cameron, I hope to post more in the area that you are bringing up here. I think you bring up some good insights; thanks for sharing your presence, and I look forward to more interaction further down the road.


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