The Atonement and the Holy Trinity


Thomas F. Torrance, "The Atonement and the Holy Trinity," in The Mediation of Christ: Evangelical Theology and Scientific Culture, 2d ed. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1992), 99-126; #1992-542a


Torrance, Thomas F. "The Atonement and the Holy Trinity." In The Mediation of Christ: Evangelical Theology and Scientific Culture, 99-126. 2d ed. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1992; #1992-542a

Publication life cycle / General notes

Ch. 5. New to this edition. No audio recording.

For full information on the book, see the record for the first edition (which lacks this chapter): 1983-418.

Discussed in the Reading Group on July 1, 2021: Video.

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  • [Introduction], p. 99.
  • Christian and Jewish Conceptions of God, p. 101.
  • Christian and Jewish Approaches to God Need Each Other, p. 105.
  • Necessity of the Atonement for Knowledge of the Trinity, p. 109.
  • The Trinitarian Ground of Atonement, p. 112.
  • The Communion of the Spirit, p. 115.
  • The One God and the Triune God, p. 119.
  • Necessity of the Trinity for Understanding the Atonement, p. 123.

"...the proper understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit takes place only within the movement of atoning propitiation whereby God draws near to us and  draws us near to himself in believing response and brings us into union with himself through the gift of his Spirit, for it is only within that two-way movement of reconciling love that God's self-revelation to mankind attains its end. Through Christ and his awful self-sacrifice on the cross alone may we sinful and alienated human beings have access by one Spirit to the Father. By 'propitiation,' of course, is not meant any placating or conciliating of God on our part, for God is never acted upon by means of priestly sacrifice offered by human beings. Thus as in Old Testament liturgy it is always God himself who provides the sacrifice whereby he draws near to the worshipper and draws the worshipper near to himself, so in the actualised liturgy of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, it is God himself who in atoning propitiation draws near to us and draws us near to himself. God does not love us, Calvin once wrote, because he has reconciled us to himself; it is because he loved us that he has reconciled us to himself. Propitiation is wholly from beginning to end the movement of God's forgiving and expiating love whereby in the initiative and freedom of his own divine being he acts both from the side of God as God toward man and from the side of man as man toward God. Thereby in the form of a relation of himself to himself, God bridges in his incarnate life in the Lord Jesus Christ the fearful chasm of alienation between man and himself, uniting himself with us under his own righteous judgment upon sin in order to bear and expiate our guilt, all in himself as the one Mediator between God and man who is himself very God and very man..." (pp. 110-111).