Reader's Guide 2. The Christological and Soteriological Center

Elmer M. Colyer, "An Introductory Reader's Guide to the Published Works of T. F. Torrance," Participatio: Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship, Supplement 1 (2011): 38-63; revised online edition (#2017-EMC-1).

Up: About the Reader's Guide

When reading T. F. Torrance on the christological and soteriological center of his theology, the place to begin is the two-volume posthumously published lectures from Torrance's dogmatics courses delivered at University of Edinburgh: Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (#2008-TFT-1) and Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ (#2009-TFT-1), ed. Robert T. Walker (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press). We owe Robert Walker a huge debt of gratitude for his painstaking, meticulous editing of the lectures, truly a labor of love.

These volumes are such a great place to begin reading T. F. Torrance since they bear the more conversational style of the classroom and are therefore more readily accessible than some of Torrance's dense prose in works like his Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, #1996-595), which is a rather difficult read for beginners. Walker also includes an incredibly detailed synopsis of the content of each volume in outline form. This enables readers to quickly zero in on topics of interest. The second volume, Atonement, includes a "Brief Guide to Further Reading" (#2009-TFT-1o).

Here are the chapter titles for each of the two volumes so readers will have an idea of the topics covered in each volume:

Incarnation (#2008-TFT-1)
Chapter 1: Introduction to Christology (#2008-TFT-1a)
Chapter 2: The Incarnation (#2008-TFT-1b)
Chapter 3: The Once and for all Union of God and Man (#2008-TFT-1c)
Chapter 4: The Continuous Union in the Life of Jesus (#2008-TFT-1d)
Chapter 5: The Mystery of Christ (#2008-TFT-1e)
Chapter 6: The Hypostatic Union (#2008-TFT-1f)
Chapter 7: The Kingdom of Christ and Evil (#2008-TFT-1g)
Addendum: Eschatology (#2008-TFT-1h)

Atonement (#2009-TFT-1)
Chapter 1: Atonement in the New Testament (#2009-TFT-1a).
Chapter 2: Redemption in Light of the Old Testament (#2009-TFT-1b).
Chapter 3: The Priesthood of Christ (#2009-TFT-1c).
Chapter 4: Atonement in the Teaching of Paul: Atonement as Justification (#2009-TFT-1d).
Chapter 5: Atonement as Reconciliation (#2009-TFT-1e).
Chapter 6: Atonement as Redemption (#2009-TFT-1f).
Chapter 7: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (#2009-TFT-1g).
Chapter 8: The Nature of the Resurrection Event (#2009-TFT-1h).
Chapter 9: The Ascension and Parousia of Jesus Christ (#2009-TFT-1i).
Chapter 10: The Biblical Witness to Jesus Christ: The Coming of the Spirit and the Creation of the Apostolic Testimony and Gospel (#2009-TFT-1j).
Chapter 11: The One Church of God in Jesus Christ (#2009-TFT-1k).
Chapter 12: Jesus Christ the First and Last: the Eschatological Perspective of the Gospel (#2009-TFT-1m).
Epilogue: The Reconciliation of the Mind (#2009-TFT-1n).

Also see the long introduction to The School of Faith: The Catechisms of the Reformed Church (New York: Harper & Row, #1959-140), which is an excellent early summary of many key themes of Torrance's theology. The first two chapters by T. F. Torrance of A Passion for Christ: The Vision that Ignites Ministry ("The Christ who Loves Us" [#1999-TFT-1a] and "Preaching Jesus Christ" [#1999-TFT-1b]), mentioned above, are very readable summaries of Torrance's Christology and Soteriology.

Beyond these outstanding and accessible volumes the following list of publications is my suggested way to read Torrance on various subtopics under the main heading of Christology / Soteriology. The order of these various essays and chapters generally begins with more accessible works but also indicates a particular sequence that I think is helpful for understanding Torrance on these themes. I include chapter titles and some comments to guide readers into the subject matter of these various publications.

The Mediation of Christ, 2nd ed., 1992; #1992-542.
Chapter 1: The Mediation of Revelation (#1983-418a)
Chapter 2: The Mediation of Reconciliation (#1983-418b)
Chapter 3: The Person of the Mediator (#1983-418c)
Chapter 4: The Mediation of Christ in our Human Response (#1983-418d)
Chapter 5: The Atonement and the Trinity (#1992-542a)
The first three chapters especially place Jesus Christ within the matrix of Israel, a subject of some importance to Torrance. Readers will find various other discussions of Torrance's views on the place of Israel within the mediation of revelation and reconciliation by consulting the full bibliography of Torrance's published works in McGrath, T. F. Torrance. Chapter 4 deals with the vicarious humanity of Christ.

The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church, Edinburgh, T&T Clark, #1988-489.
Chapter 4: God of God, Light of Light (#1988-489e)
Chapter 5: The Incarnate Saviour (#1988-489f)
While The Trinitarian Faith deals with the theology and theologians of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed, Torrance's own theology shines through it all. Chapter 4 contains a particularly rich discussion of the significance of the homoousion to patri, which is crucial to Torrance's theology. Other essays in this section also deal with the homoousion.

Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, #1994-571.
Chapter 1: Preaching Christ Today (#1994-571a)
Chapter 2: Incarnation and Atonement in Light of Modern Scientific Rejection of Dualism (#1994-571b)

"The Atonement: The Singularity of Christ and the Finality of the Cross; The Atonement and the Moral Order." In Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell, ed. Nigel M. de S. Cameron, pp. 225-256, Grand Rapids: Baker, #1992-564.

"Incarnation and Atonement: Theosis and Henosis in the Light of Modern Scientific Rejection of Dualism."
Society of Ordained Scientists 7 (spring 1992): 8-20; #1992-556.

These last two essays contain significant discussions of the inseparable relation between the incarnation and the atonement, the singularity and finality of Christ, and the relation of redemption to the moral order.

"Karl Barth and the Latin Heresy." Scottish Journal of Theology 39 (1986): 461-82 (#1986-470), reprinted in Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian. Edinburgh: T&T Clark (#1990-517).
This essay is Torrance's most damaging criticism of various accounts of the gospel in terms of "external relations" between Christ, the atonement, and humanity's sins.

"Karl Barth and Patristic Theology." In Theology beyond Christendom: Essays on the Centenary of the Birth of Karl Barth, ed. John Thomson, pp. 215-239. Allison Park, PA: Pickwick, #1986-471.
Reprinted in Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian, pp. 182-212 (#1990-517h).

Reality and Evangelical Theology, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, #1982-397.
Chapter 3: A Realist Interpretation of God's Self-Revelation (#1982-397d)
This chapter and the following chapters and essays below all deal with the mediation of revelation, especially as it is embodied in the human creaturely word, first in Israel, then preeminently in the vicarious human mind of Jesus Christ himself (the one ultimately true human theology), and then in its outfolding in the apostolic nucleus and apostolic mind that gave rise to the New Testament Scriptures.

God and Rationality, London: Oxford University Press, #1971-290. Reprint, Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1997.
Chapter 6: The Word of God and the Response of Man (#1971-290g)

Space, Time and Resurrection. Edinburgh: Handsel Press, #1976-331.
Introduction (#1976-331b)
Chapter 8: The Lord of Space and Time (#1976-331j)

"The Historical Jesus: From the Perspective of a Theologian." In The New Testament Age: Essays in Honor of Bo Reicke, ed. W. Weinrich, pp. 511-26 Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, #1984-442.

"The Deposit of Faith," Scottish Journal of Theology 36, no. 1: 1-28; #1983-423.
The "Deposit of Faith" is particularly helpful in sorting out Torrance's understanding of this whole subject, which is rather complex and far more sophisticated than so many discussions of Scripture in relation to the mediation of revelation in conservative theological circles. This is one of Torrance's major contributions to the doctrine of revelation.

Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian (#1990-517)
Chapter 3: Karl Barth: Theologian of the Word (#1990-517d)
This is a crucial essay for Torrance's understanding of Scripture in relation to revelation. Even though it deals with Barth's views, Torrance's own perspective is very evident.

Also the following secondary sources are helpful:

Alister McGrath, T. F. Torrance: An Intellectual Biography (#1999-AEM-1)
Chapter 7: Revelation and Salvation: The Place of Jesus Christ in Christian Theology

Elmer M. Colyer, How To Read T. F. Torrance (#2001-EMC-1)
Chapter 2: The Mediation of Christ: Homoousios, Hypostatic Union, Atonement
Chapter 3: The Mediation of Christ: Christ's Vicarious Humanity

Elmer M. Colyer, ed. The Promise of Trinitarian Theology: Theologians In Dialogue with T. F. Torrance. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, #2001-EMC-2.
Chapter 3: The Christology of Thomas F. Torrance, by Andrew Purves

Paul Molnar, Thomas F. Torrance: Theologian of the Trinity (#2009-PDM-1)
Chapter 4: Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, Homoousion with the Father and with Us in our Humanity
Chapter 5: Atonement: Incarnation and Reconciliation Are One in Jesus Christ

Gerrit Scott Dawson, ed. An Introduction to Torrance Theology: Discovering the Incarnate Saviour. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2007. Chapters 1-3, 7-8.***

Torrance's early reflections in the area of Christology and soteriology are nicely summarized in his Auburn Lectures in 1938-39, published in 2002 as The Doctrine of Christ (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, #2002-TFT-1).

Also see the first two sections, titled "Knowledge of God" and "Through Jesus Christ," in Theology in Reconstruction (London: SCM, #1965-223). This volume is mostly a collection of lectures and essays previously published in various other venues.

One additional brief but important essay is "The Reconciliation of Mind," TFS Bulletin 10, no. 3 (1987): 4-7; #1987-486.