Thomas Forsyth Torrance (1913–2007)

Thomas Forsyth Torrance passed away this morning at 3.30. Professor Torrance was, in my opinion, the most significant and greatest British (and, arguably English-speaking) theologian in the twentieth century. Few have helped us more to understand and celebrate the height, depth and breadth of God’s exhaustless love revealed in Jesus Christ. I wish to express my deepest condolences to the Torrance family.

Many of us so deeply blessed through this man’s ministry – a ministry at one with that great apostolic Word of the Father ever going out in the Spirit into the creation, and finding voice through so many of Torrance’s students – can remember where we were when we were first read The Trinitarian Faith, or were overpowered by that faithful witness to the Word in The Mediation of Christ. His missionary sensibility, his service to the Gospel, and to the Church which that Gospel created, sustains and reforms was exemplary, the heart of which was his consistent witness to God’s greatest action in Jesus Christ.

‘If the saving act of God in Christ were something external to Christ, something merely between Christ and us or between Christ and the world, then when completed it would be over and done with. But if the soteriological exchange takes place within the constitution of the incarnate Person of the Mediator, then it is as eternal as Jesus Christ himself, the eternal Son. That is, the staggering truth of the Gospel that so overwhelmed the early Church which they sought to express in their doctrine of theopoieses … that through the kinship which the Son of God has established with us in the incarnation, our creaturely evanescent existence is as securely anchored in the very being and life of God as Jesus Christ himself. Such is the blessed end of the atoning exchange effected in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Since he has been taken up into God, in him our humanity, in spite of its temporal changeable nature, is given a place in God, and is thus grounded in his eternal unchangeable reality’. – Thomas F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1988), 183-4.

For those who would like to know more about Torrance, I recently posted a review of a recent work on Torrance theology here and more information is available here.

His brother David has penned a letter to members of the TF Torrance Theological Fellowship in which he writes, among other things:

As a much loved brother and intimate friend with whom I have shared so much over the years, he is and will be a great miss. For his sake however we rejoice that weakness and suffering is now over and he is risen and rejoicing with the Lord, whom he endeavoured to serve throughout his life. There is something appropriate that he passed over to be with the Lord on the day of resurrection, being the first Sunday in Advent. Thank you for your prayers for him and the family.

Others have posted too:

(I’ll be adding to this list as other reflections are posted)


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