Torrance and the Incarnation

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Like Steve, I too have recently acquired T. F. Torrance's The Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (IVP, 2008), but the work on Springsteen (why would I want to read something written by a unitarian?). It's far too early for a review or anything like it, but I have dipping into it. Two initial impressions are:

 

41J6-wal0KL__SL500_AA240_.jpgFirst, that here is a book on Christology which isn't afraid to approach the topic theologically, creedally and confessionally. There must be hundreds of volumes looking at exegetical issues relating to biblical titles ["Son of Man," "Son of God," "Kurios," etc.] but few of the caliber of Donald MacLeod's The Person of Christ (IVP, Contours of Christian Theology series). Torrance succeeded Hugh Ross MacKintosh to the chair of Dogmatics at New College, Edinburgh the year before I was born and his influence would remain considerable over the second half of the twentieth century. Virtually ignored by the trendy evangelical establishment (Torrance was viewed as a dinosaur for engaging in theology almost exclusively employing traditional systematic categories), his published writings did not appear under the most prestigious publishers. The fact that someone seems genuinely excited to discuss the hypostatic union, posse non peccare, or engage Eastern Orthodoxy with such confidence is itself a cause for gratitude. 

Second, and yes, there are flaws. Huge ones. Torrance's well-known criticisms of the "Latin heresy" -- that in his human nature the incarnate Christ was incapable of sinning (non posse non peccare) led him into (Barthian) paths: in order to uphold the axiom that "what is not assumed, he cannot heal" Torrance affirmed that Chirst assumed a fallen human nature. The issue is comprehensively addressed and rebutted by MacLeod's work.  And yes, Torrance's line of orthodoxy is flawed too: Athanasius -- Anselm -- Calvin -- Edward Irving -- John MacLeod Campbell -- Karl Barth -- (ah em) Torrance, shows a line of thinking that leads him into universalist territory, making more of the incarnation and its identification with humanity than the cross warrants.

But, I'm still making my way through the introduction! Hopefully, I'll get my friend Duncan Rankin to review the book for us! That would be a review worth reading for sure.

Posted November 28, 2008 @ 7:22 PM by Derek Thomas


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