The Postwar Period

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-EMC-1a. All rights reserved; used by permission of Elmer Colyer and InterVarsity Press.

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After the war, Torrance returned to the parish in Alyth where he completed his thesis on The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers and had it published (1946 and again in 1948; #1946-013 and #1948-017). Torrance returned to Basel for what he describes as a “fearful” rigorosum (the oral examination for his D.Theol.). 42

Once he had completed his degree, Torrance returned to the parish in Alyth. That same year (1946) he married Margaret Spear, who, like his mother, was an Anglican. Torrance regards being married and having a family as the best thing he ever did in life. 43

The following year (1947) they moved to the large Beechgrove Church in Aberdeen where H. R. Mackintosh, A. J. Gossip and J. S. Stewart had all been ministers. 44 Torrance has no regrets about having served ten years in parish ministry. Again and again he found that “the fundamental theological questions were the very stuff of the deep anxieties of the human heart.” 45 Indeed, parish ministry enabled, rather than hindered, him to think theologically. 46

During his three years at Beechgrove, Torrance published a book called Calvins Doctrine of Man (#1949-022) in an attempt to untangle the debate between Barth and Brunner, who both appealed to Calvin on the relation between nature and grace. 47 He also founded the Scottish Journal of Theology which he co-edited with J. K. S. Reid for over thirty years (1948-1982; #1948-TFT-2). He had already started the Scottish Church Theological Society in 1945. 48 Thus Torrance became heavily involved in theological education and renewal in Scotland.

42) Hesselink, “Pilgrimage,” pp. 56-57 (#1984-443). Back
43) Bauman, Roundtable, p. 117 (#1990-530). Back
44) Hesselink, “Pilgrimage,” p. 57 (#1984-443). Back
45) Bauman, Roundtable, p. 113 (#1990-530). Back
46) Ibid. (#1990-530). Back
47) Torrance, “My Interaction,” p. 57 (#1986-473). Back
48) Hesselink, “Pilgrimage,” p. 57 (#1984-443). Back