The Foundation of the Church


Thomas F. Torrance, "The Foundation of the Church," Scottish Journal of Theology 16 (1963): 113-131; #1963-199


Torrance, Thomas F. "The Foundation of the Church." Scottish Journal of Theology 16, no. 2 (1963): 113-131; #1963-199

Publication life cycle / General notes

From Scottish Journal of Theology (#1963-199); Footnote #1: "Part of an essay written for the Faith and Order 'Commission on Christ and his Church,' of the World Council of Churches." A two-part series which concludes with #1966-243.

Reprinted in Theology in Reconstruction (#1965-223m).

Reprinted in Theological Foundations for Ministry (#1979-366b).

Reprinted in Robert Walker, ed., Atonement (#2009-TFT-1k). Walker: "This section is an abridged version of a duplicated student handout (23 pages) entitled 'The One Church of God'. The handout was 'part of an essay written for the Faith and Order 'Commission on Christ and His Church', of the World Council of Churches.' The first two sections of the handout were published in the Scottish Journal of Theology (SJT), vol. 16.2 (1963), pp. 113-31, under the title 'The Foundation of the Church' and subsequently reprinted in Theology in Reconstruction 1965." 

Walker continues: "The third and final section 'The Sending of the Spirit and the Mission of the Apostles' appears to have been published only in the Scottish Journal of Theology, vol. 19.2 (1966), pp. 129-43, under the title 'The Mission of the Church'...." (#1966-243). Footnote to #1966-243:  "Part of an essay written for the Faith and Order 'Commission on Christ and His Church', of the World Council of Churches, and sequel to the essay, 'The Foundation of the Church', published in SJT 16.2, 1963, pp. 113-31." This sequel was also published in French: #1966-244.


The Church is grounded in the Being and Life of God, and rooted in the eternal purpose of the Father to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Head and Saviour of all things. The Church does not exist by and for itself, and therefore cannot be known or interpreted out of itself. Both the source and the goal of the Church are in the eternal love of God which has overflowed in the creation and redemption of the world. God has not willed to live alone, but to create and seek others distinct from Himself upon whom to pour out His Spirit, that He might share with them His divine life and glory, and as Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwell in their midst for ever. God will not be without His Church; the Church is nothing without God. But in God the Church exists as the supreme object of divine grace, and in the Church God is pleased to live His divine life and manifest His divine glory. That is the mystery and destiny of the Church, hidden from the foundation of the world, but revealed and fulfilled in the Incarnation of the Son of God and in His glorious work of redemption, for in Jesus Christ the Church as the redeemed people of God is the crown of creation living in praise and gratitude to the Creator and reflecting with all things, visible and invisible, the glory of the eternal God.