Thomas Torrance’s Doctrine of Salvation

Thomas F. Torrance’s doctrine of salvation is grounded in a Trinitarian frame, and subsequent doctrine of election wherein the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ is understood to be the locus where what it means to be human before God is realized. Given the fall of humanity in Genesis 3, what it means to be human before God was ruptured to the point that human beings became sub-human living in an abstracted status apart from God’s good will for them to be eternally healthy flourishing creatures that live from his sustaining life in and through Jesus Christ. As a result of this rupture Godself freely chose to become human in the Son taking his pre-temporal choice to be humanity into concrete particularity in the Incarnation; thus making the eternal choice/election a realized reality in the manger of Bethlehem. As the Logos became ensarkos, he assumed a fallen humanity thus meeting the Nanzianzine conditions of ‘the unassumed is the unhealed.’ The implication is that the atoning work of God began in the moment God incarnated in Christ thus implicating all of humanity in ontological ways. For Torrance salvation is an ontological event wherein the conditions for salvation concretely inhere and are realized in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This means, for Torrance, that salvation before God has to do with what it means to be human before God. He sees juridical and forensic components involved in salvation, but the primary frame for conceiving of these subsequent entailments are grounded in what it means to be human before God. For Torrance this is the telos of salvation, this is what it ultimately means to be reconciled to God, and justified before him; it means to be fully human before him. It is in this restoration of fellowship between God and humanity and humanity and God wherein salvation is accomplished, and the crowning jewel of God’s creation is given ultimate purpose as they find their purpose and humanity in his humanity for them in Jesus Christ. Torrance writes this: “…In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself.”[1]

[1] T. F. Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, 94.

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