18 Brilliant James B. Torrance Quotes

9780830818952I just finished a fantastic book from the Scottish theologian J.B. Torrance, called Worship Community and the Triune God of Grace. Here are 18 of my favorite quotes from the book. Enjoy! —-

The bible is primarily a manual of worship, but too often it has been treated, particularly in Protestantism, as a manual of ethics, of moral values, of religious ideas, or even of sound doctrine. When we see that the worship and mission of the church are the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father and the Son’s mission from the Father to the world, that the unique center of the Bible is Jesus Christ, “the apostle and high priest whom we confess” (Heb. 3:1), then the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the atonement, the ministry of the Spirit.. all unfold from that center. (Pg. 9)

Worship is.. the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father. (Pg. 20)

He lifts us up out of ourselves to participate in the very life and communion of the Godhead, that life of communion for which we were created. (Pg. 22)

[The existential model of worship] Although is stresses the God-humanward movement in Christ, the human-Godward movement is still ours! It emphasizes our faith, our decision, our response in an event theology which short-circuits the vicarious humanity of Christ and belittles union with Christ. (Pg. 29)

It ignores the fact that God has already provided for us that response which alone is acceptable to Him- the offering made for the whole human race in the life, obedience and passion of Jesus Christ. (Pg. 29)

The prime purpose of the incarnation, in the love of God, is to lift us up into the life of communion, of participation in the very Triune life of God. (Pg. 32)

What God is towards us in these relationships, He is in His innermost Being. (Pg. 33)

RevProfJamesBTorranceBut it is not my faith or my decision and conversion, my dying and raising which washes away my sins. It is Christ’s vicarious baptism for us in blood on the cross, His death in which we, by grace, participate through water and the Spirit. (Pg. 34)

We require a better doctrine of God. For too long, our concepts of God have been dominated by Plato, Aristotle, Stoic concepts of God as primarily the giver of natural law, the contract-God of Western jurisprudence who needs to be conditioned into being gracious by law being satisfied, static concepts of “substance,” of God as an unmoved mover and an impassable first clause, etc. We need to recover a biblical understanding of God as the covenant God of grace, not a contract-God, the God who has His loving Being-in-communion, and who has, in the freedom of His love, created us and redeemed us that we might find our true being in communion with Him and one another. (Pg. 35)

In our modern world, in the tradition of Boethius and the Enlightenment, we usually equate the concept of “the person” with that of “the individual.” But in a Christian understanding this is a mistake. Just as the words “father,” “mother,” “husband,” “wife,” “brother,” “sister” are relational terms, so with the word “person.” The human person is someone who finds his or her true being in relation, in love, in communion. (Pg. 39)

He [Jesus] does not appease an angry God to condition Him into being gracious, but in perfect acknowledgement of the holy love of the Father for a sinful world, seals God’s covenant purposes for all humanity by His blood. (Pg. 49)

The covenant between God and humanity is concentrated in His [Jesus’] person. (Pg. 50)

The Christ by whom all things were made is the same Christ who, for us and our salvation, assumed our humanity. In other words, the Son of God who created Adam for sonship and communion and immortality does not abandon His loving purposes for humanity, for every single human person. But in order to redeem humanity and to bring to fulfillment His purpose for humanity, for everyone, He Himself becomes a man that He might fulfill in us His own person God’s purpose of love and obedience and worship. (Pg. 52)

trinity-knotChrist does not heal us as an ordinary doctor might, by standing over us, diagnosing our sickness, prescribing medicine for us to take and then going away, leaving us to get better as we follow His instructions. No, He becomes the patient. He assumes that very humanity which is in need of redemption, and by being anointed by the Spirit in our humanity, by a life of perfect obedience, by dying and rising again, for us, our humanity is healed in Him, in His person. We are not just healed through Christ, because of the work of Christ, but in and through Christ. Person and work must not be separated. (Pg. 53)

Our repentance is thus a response to grace, not a condition of grace. (Pg. 57)

God is always the subject of propitiation, never it’s object. (Pg. 60)

Grace means that God gives Himself to us as God, freely and unconditionally, to be worshiped and adored. But grace also means that God comes to us in Jesus Christ as man, to do for us and in us what we cannot do. (Pg. 65)

We need to give primacy to the question of who over how. (Pg. 93)

(All quotes are the copyright of James B. Torrance, and Inter-Varsity press. 1996)

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