T. F. Torrance as seen through the eyes of Andrew Purves

One of my favorite paragraphs in Purves’s recent book was his brief sketch of Torrance. It leaps off the page as a vivid crystallization of Torrance and his work. At least, it does so for me – and, admittedly and much to my regret, I know Torrance only from his writings. But Purves communicates well the personality that I have encountered shining through those writings. As usual, bold is mine and italics are from the original.

Andrew Purves, Exploring Christology & Atonement: Conversations with John McLeod Campbell, H. R. Mackintosh, and T. F. Torrance (IVP Academic, 2015), 53.

As Mackintosh was mostly brief in length and gentle in tone, Torrance is fecund, lengthy to the point of prolixity, and relentlessly intense and encyclopedic (and exhausting) in style. With Torrance we enter a world where the theologian is ferociously battling for the integrity and faithfulness of theology, but not against the detractors of Christian faith and theology. His is a combat on behalf of the classically construed faith of the church catholic, most certainly critically received, but also under attack from the very theologians whose job it is to speak the truth of Jesus Christ into the present world with energy, intelligence, imagination and love, but many of whom he regards as failing to do so. With Torrance we enter a world of theological science (his image), of theology as kata physin, theology developed according to the nature of the subject of inquiry: God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, given for our salvation and known through Jesus Christ. This theology is assertive and kerygmatic, abundant with confidence and conviction, prone to soaring flights of generality, yet with close attention to detail.

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