Mediation of Christ (Thomas Torrance)


This is probably the single best, popular introduction to Torrance’s thought. His Thesis: Jesus’s revealing the Father cannot be abstracted from the matrix of Israel, which also received God’s revelation. Rather, we must have a dynamic epistemology which seeks the inner relations.

The movement of revelation: God calls and his revelation molds the object. The word of God penetrates into the divine depths of Israel’s soul and being (8). And in this movement God gives us adequate concepts:

God’s revelation of himself through the medium of Israel has provided mankind with permanent structures of thought and speech about him” (17). These structures are:

a. Word and Name of God
b. revelation, mercy, truth, holiness
c. Messiah, savior, prophet, priest, king
d. Father/Son/Servant
e. covenant, sacrifice, forgiveness, atonement, reconciliation, redemption
f. Liturgy
g. These constitute the essential furniture of our knowledge about God.

Conclusion: God has given us a revelation identical with himself: Jesus Christ is the revelation of God (23).

The Mediation of Reconciliation

Thesis: The mediation of revelation cannot be divorced from the mediation of reconciliation (24).

Genuine knowledge involves a “cognitive union of the mind with its object” (24). We may know something only in accordance with its nature. The object’s nature will prescribe to us the mode of knowing appropriate to it. Personal beings require personal modes of knowing. If we are to know God in accordance with his nature, then he will adapt us to a mode proper to it. We cannot know God without love. Ascetic tradition: basically means to be purified from wickedness. Does not entail later wackiness (a point made with some force by Gregory Nazianzus).

The Person of the Mediator

Instead of abstracting Christ, we should proceed by investigating his being-constituting-relations (onto-relations; p. 47). The internal relations disclose the inner rationality, or logos to us.

The Atonement and the Holy Trinity

Thesis: “Proper understanding of God as [Trinity]…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 the Spirit” (110).

Atonement must be found within the inner being of God: God’s activity is not separate from his being. It is a being-in-act and Act-in-being (113). Communion of the Spirit: We only know God as he reveals himself to us through himself. The Spirit seals our adoption. He actualizes his own self-giving.

This was a magnificent and stirring read. It is much easier than Torrance’s other works.


About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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