Ecumenical Endeavor

Excerpt from “Torrance’s Life and Achievement,” in Elmer Colyer, How to Read T. F. Torrance: Understanding His Trinitarian & Scientific Theology (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001); #2001-EC-1a. All rights reserved; used by permission of Elmer Colyer and InterVarsity Press.

Up to Bio Introduction

Torrance had also been deeply involved in the ecumenical movement under the auspices of the World Council of Churches. 62 He attended the Faith and Order Conference in Lund, Sweden, in 1952 and served on the Faith and Order Commission from 1952 to 1962. Between 1950 and 1958 Torrance participated in the conversations between the Church of Scotland and the Anglican Church. Torrance was also involved in the 1954 meetings of the World Council of Churches in Evanston, Illinois; the Faith and Order Commission in Chicago, Illinois; and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Princeton, New Jersey. The essays contained in Conflict and Agreement in the Church, Volumes I & II (#1959-139 and #1960-155, many published previously in various journals) all arise directly or indirectly out of Torrance’s early years in ecumenical dialogue. 63

As noted above, Torrance’s family has embodied ecumenicity. There have been several generations of familial interconnections between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England, as in the case of Torrance’s parents. In addition, Torrance’s wife, Margaret, has been a member of both churches, and two of their children were confirmed in both as well. 64

Torrance has been a key figure in the dialogue between the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Greek Orthodox Church, which began in 1977. This led to a series of consultations between 1979 and 1983. The progress during these years was so impressive that all fourteen Orthodox Churches in the Pan-Orthodox Communion were invited to participate.

Further consultations led to a “Joint Statement of the Official Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches” issued on March 13, 1991, in Geneva announcing that an “agreed Statement on the Holy Trinity” had been reached. 65 The results of these discussions are found in two volumes edited by Torrance: Theological Dialogue Between Orthodox and Reformed Churches, Volumes I & II (#1985-453 and #1993-TFT-2). 66 These connections with the Orthodox Church are so significant that in 1973 Torrance was made an honorary Protopresbyter of the Greek Orthodox Church within the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and in Addis Ababa he was consecrated during a Eucharistic service as a Presbyter by Methodios, the Archbishop of Axum.


62) See Hesselink, “Pilgrimage,” pp. 58-59 (#1984-443). Back
63) See Thomas F. Torrance, Conflict and Agreement in the Church (London: Lutterworth, #1959-139 and #1960-155), 1:7. Back
64) See Hesselink, “Pilgrimage,” p. 50 (#1984-443). Torrance also served on the Reformed-Roman Catholic Study Commission on the Eucharist in Woudschoten, Holland (1974). Back
65) Thomas F. Torrance, Trinitarian Perspectives: Toward Doctrinal Agreement (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, #1994-573), pp. 110-11. Back
66) Thomas F. Torrance, ed., Theological Dialogue Between Orthodox and Reformed Churches, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, #1985-453, #1993-TFT-2). Back