TF Torrance - 60 Years Ago He Foresaw the Future

Nowhere does justification by Christ alone have more radical consequences than in regard to the pastoral ministry. Justification by Christ is grounded upon his mighty Act in which he took our place, substituting himself for us under the divine judgment, and substituting himself for us in the obedient response he rendered to God in worship and thanksgiving and praise. In himself he has opened up a way to the Father, so that we may approach God solely through him and on the ground of what he has done and is—therefore we pray in his Name, and whatever we do, we do in his Name before God. Thus the whole of our worship and ministry reposes upon the substitutionary work of Christ. Now the radical nature of that is apparent from the fact that through substituting himself in our place there takes place a displacement of our humanity by the humanity of Christ—that is why Jesus insists that we can only follow him by denying ourselves, by letting him displace us from a place of centrality and by letting Him take our place.

At the Reformation this doctrine had immediate effect in the overthrow of Roman sacerdotalism—Jesus Christ is our sole Priest. He is the one and only Man who can mediate between us and God, so that we approach God solely through the mediation of the Humanity of Jesus, through his incarnate Priesthood. 

When the Humanity of Christ is depreciated or whenever it is obscured by the sheer majesty of his Deity then the need for some other human mediation creeps in—hence in the Dark and Middle Ages arose the need for a human priesthood to mediate between sinful humanity and the exalted Christ, the majestic Judge and King. There was of course no denial of the Deity of Christ by the Reformers—on the contrary they restored the purity of faith in Christ as God through overthrowing the accretions that compromised it; but they also restored the place occupied in the New Testament and the Early Church by the Humanity of Christ, as he who took our human nature in order to be our Priest, as he who takes our side and is our Advocate before the judgment of God, and who once and for all has wrought out atonement for us in his sacrifice on the Cross, and therefore as he who eternally stands in for us as our heavenly Mediator and High Priest.

The Church on earth lives and acts only as it is directed by its heavenly Lord, and only in such a way that his Ministry is reflected in the midst of its ministry and worship, 'therefore from first to last the worship and ministry of the Church on earth must be governed by the fact that Christ substitutes himself in our place, and that our humanity with its own acts of worship, is displaced by his, so that we appear before God not in our own name, not In our own significance, not in virtue of our own acts of confession, contrition, worship, and thanksgiving, but solely in the name of Christ and solely in virtue of what he has done in our name and on our behalf, and in our stead. Justification by Christ alone means that from first to last in the worship of God and in the ministry of the Gospel Christ himself is central, and that we draw near in worship and service only through letting him take our place. He only is Priest. He only represents humanity. He only has an offering with which to appear before God and with which God is well-pleased. He only presents our prayers before God, and he only is our praise and thanksgiving and worship as we appear before the face of the Father. Nothing in our hands we bring—simply to his Cross we cling.

But what has happened in Protestant worship and ministry? Is it not too often the case that the whole life and worship of the congregation revolves around the personality of the minister? He is the one who is in the center; he offers the prayers of the congregation; he it is who mediates 'truth' through his personality, and he it is who mediates between the people and God through conducting the worship entirely on his own. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of the popular minister where everything centers on him and the whole life of the congregation is built round him. What is that but Protestant sacerdotalism, sacerdotalism which involves the displacement of the Humanity of Christ by the humanity of the minister, and the obscuring of the Person of Christ by the personality of the minister? How extraordinary that Protestantism should thus develop a new sacerdotalism, to be sure a psychological rather than a sacramental sacerdotalism, but a sacerdotalism nonetheless, in which it is the personality of the minister which both mediates the Word of God to man and mediates the worship of man to God!

Protestant Churches are full of these ’psychological priests’ and more and more they evolve a psychological cult and develop a form of psychological counselling which displaces the truly pastoral minntry of Christ. How frequently, for example, the ministers prayers are so crammed with his own personality (with all its boring idiosyncrasies!) that the worshipper cannot get post him in order to worship God in the name of Christ—but is forced to worship God in the name of the ministerI How frequently the sermon is not an exposition of the Word of God but an exposition of the minister’s own views on this or that subject! And how frequently the whole life of the congregation is so built up on the personality of the minister that when he goes the congregation all but collapses or dwindles away!

There can be no doubt that the whole concept of the ministry and of worship in our Reformed Churches needs to be brought back to the criticism of the Word of God in order that we may learn again the meaning of justification by Christ alone in the midst of the Church’s life and work. Jesus Christ must be given his rightful place by being set right in the center, as Head and Lord of the Church, as its sole Prophet and Priest and King, and that means in the midst of our preaching, in the basic notion of the ministerial office, in the fundamental mode of worship, and in the whole life of the congregation as the Body of Christ alone.

        Theology in Reconstruction, p 166-168    1965

A notable theologian from Scotland and a child of two missionaries to China. I will cut and paste the list of his major works below. He appears to be a man not inferior in knowledge. Haha. Thankfully, belief in the gospel does not require extensive learning at all. From what I can tell, Torrance would gladly say: And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Yes, he is correct regarding many modern ministers as sadly participating in a priestly psyco-cult. One in which their continual themes, books, and sermons are about self-improvement and self-enrichment rather than service to others in Jesus' name and obedience to his Kingdom mission on Earth.

  • The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1948
  • Calvin’s Doctrine of Man. London: Lutterworth Press, 1949.
  • Kingdom and Church: A Study in the Theology of the Reformation, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1956.
  • Coedited with G.W. Bromiley: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I/2 The Doctrine of the Word of God. Prolegomena, Part 2, translated by G.T. Thomson and H. Knight. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1956.
  • Coedited with G.W. Bromiley: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/1 The Doctrine of Reconciliation, Part I, translated by G.W. Bromiley. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1956.
  • When Christ Comes and Comes Again. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1957.
  • Coedited with G.W. Bromiley: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II/1, The Doctrine of God, translated by T.H.L. Parker, W.B. Johnston, H. Knight and J.L.M. Haire. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1957.
  • Coedited with G.W. Bromiley: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II/2, The Doctrine of God, translated by G.W. Bromiley, J.C. Campbell, I. Wilson, J. Strathern McNab, H. Knight and R.A. Stewart. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1957.
  • Coedited with G.W. Bromiley: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III/1, The Doctrine of Creation, Part 1, translated by J.W. Edwards, O. Bussey and H. Knight. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1958.
  • Coedited with G.W. Bromiley: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/2, Part 2, The Doctrine of Reconciliation, translated by G.W. Bromiley. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1958.
  • Editor, "The Mystery of the Lord's Supper: Sermons by Robert Bruce", Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 1958.
  • The Apocalypse Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959.
  • Conflict and Agreement in the Church, I: Order and Disorder. London: Lutterworth Press, 1959.
  • Coedited with G.W. Bromiley: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III/2.  The Doctrine of Creation, Part 2, Translated by H. Knight, J.K.S. Reid, G.W. Bromiley and R.H. Fuller. Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1960.
  • Coedited with G.W. Bromiley: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III/3. The Doctrine of Creation, Part 3, Translated by G.W. Bromiley and R. Ehrlich. Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1960.
  • "Justification: Its Radical Nature and Place in Reformed Doctrine and Life," SJT 13 (1960) 240.
  • Conflict and Agreement in the Church, II: The Ministry and Sacraments of the Gospel. London: Lutterworth Press, 1960.
  • Karl Barth: an Introduction to his Early Theology, 1910-1931. London: SCM Press; New York: Harper & Row, 1962.
  • "Scientific Hermeneutics according to St. Thomas Aquinas." The Journal of Theological Studies XIII.2 (October, 1962): 259–89.
  • Coedited with D.W. Torrance, Calvin's Commentaries, The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, translated by T.A. Smail. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964.
  • Theology in Reconstruction. London: SCM Press Ltd, 1965.
  • Coedited with D.W. Torrance, Calvin's Commentaries, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, translated by T.H.L Parker. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965.
  • Coedited with D.W. Torrance, Calvin's Commentaries, The Acts of the Apostles 14-26, translated by J.W. Fraser. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1966.
  • Coedited with D.W. Torrance, Calvin's Commentaries, A Harmony of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke, 3 vols. Vols 1 and 3 translated by A.W. Morrison and vol. 2 translated by T.H.L. Parker. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1972; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968.
  • Space, Time and Incarnation. London: Oxford University Press, 1969
  • Theological Science. London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
  • "The Problem of Natural Theology in the Thought of Karl Barth." Religious Studies 6 (1970): 121–35.
  • God and Rationality. London: Oxford University Press, 1971.
  • "The Relation of the Incarnation to Space in Nicene Theology," The Ecumenical World of Orthodox Civilization: Russia and Orthodoxy. vol. 3. (Essays in Honor of Georges Florovsky) ed. Andrew Blane. Paris: Mouton, 1974.
  • Theology in Reconciliation: Essays towards Evangelical and Catholic Unity in East and West. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1975.
  • "Toward Ecumenical Consensus on the Trinity," Theologische Zeitschrift 31 (1975) 337–50.
  • Space, Time and Resurrection. Edinburgh: Handsel Press, 1976
  • The Ground and Grammar of Theology. Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1980.
  • Christian Theology and Scientific Culture, vol. 1 of series, Theology and Scientific Culture, edited with general foreword by Torrance. New Edition. Belfast: Christian Journals; New York: Oxford University Press, 1981
  • Divine and Contingent Order. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.
  • The Incarnation: Ecumenical Studies in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. Edinburgh: The Handsel Press, 1981.
  • Reality and Evangelical Theology. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1982.
  • A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field, James Clerk Maxwell, edited by Torrance, Scottish Academic Press, February 1983, ISBN 0-7073-0324-9
  • "The Deposit of Faith." The Scottish Journal of Theology 36.1 (1983): 1-28.
  • Transformation & Convergence in the Frame of Knowledge: Explorations in the Interrelations of Scientific and Theological Enterprise. Belfast: Christian Journals; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1984.
  • The Christian Frame of Mind. Edinburgh: Handsel Press, 1985
  • Reality and Scientific Theology. The Margaret Harris Lectures, Dundee, 1970 (Theology and Science at the Frontiers of Knowledge, vol 1). Edinburgh: Scottish University Press, 1985
  • "My Interaction with Karl Barth." In How Karl Barth Changed My Mind, edited by Donald K. McKim, 52–64. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1986.
  • "Karl Barth and Patristic Theology," in Theology Beyond Christendom: Essays on the Centenary of the Birth of Karl Barth May 10, 1986. ed. John Thompson. Allison Park, PA: Pickwich, 1986, 215–39.
  • "Theological Realism." In The Philosophical Frontiers of Christian Theology: Essays Presented to D. M. MacKinnon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, 169–96.
  • The Hermeneutics of John Calvin. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1988.
  • The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988.
  • Karl Barth, Biblical and Evangelical Theologian. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1990.
  • The Mediation of Christ. Colorado Springs: Helmers & Howard, 1992.
  • Royal Priesthood: A Theology of Ordained Ministry. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1993.
  • Ed. Theological Dialogue Between Orthodox and Reformed Churches, 2 Vols. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1985–1993.
  • Trinitarian Perspectives: Toward Doctrinal Agreement. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994.
  • Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994.
  • Divine Meaning: Studies in Patristic Hermeneutics. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1995.
  • "The Uniqueness of Divine Revelation and the Authority of the Scriptures: The Creed Associations's Statement." Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 13 (Aut. 1995): 97-101.
  • The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996.
  • Kingdom and Church: A Study in the Theology of the Reformation. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 1996.
  • Scottish Theology: From John Knox to John McLeod Campbell. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996.
  • Theological and Natural Science. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2002.
  • The Doctrine of Jesus Christ. Eugene Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002.
  • Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ. Edited by Robert T. Walker. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
  • Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ. Edited by Robert T. Walker. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2009.
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