Thomas F. Torrance on the Bible (11 Quotes)

LutherbibelA few weeks ago I finished reading Thomas Torrance’s book Reality and Evangelical TheologyIn this book, renowned theologian Thomas Torrance deals with an important issue, especially in today’s church: the bible.

How should we interpret the Scriptures?

Is the bible inerrant (perfect)? Or merely inspired?

Is the bible itself the truth or merely a witness to the truth?

I’ve already quoted the introduction of this book about fundamentalism and the scriptures (here), but I also wanted to post here my favorite quotes from the book. Not all of them have to do with scripture, but a large portion of them do. Later I plan to write an article about how this applies to the bible, but in the meantime enjoy these eleven quotes!

(All quotes are from the 1982 Westminster John Knox Pr. edition.) 


“The fact that, through the free grace of God, Jesus Christ is made our righteousness means that we have no righteousness of our own.” (P. 18)

“No one may boast in his own orthodoxy any more than he may boast of his own righteousness. Justification thus turns out to be the strongest statement of the objectivity of faith and knowledge.” (P. 18)

“If God is not inherently and eternally in himself what he is towards us in Jesus Christ, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then we do not really or finally know God at all as he is in his abiding Reality.” (P. 24)

“…Since God has irreversibly incarnated his self-revelation in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, there cannot be two ways to knowledge of God, one in Jesus Christ and another behind his back, but only one way, through Christ and in his Spirit.” (P. 34)

“The development of fluid axioms which are continually open to change and renewal in the light of ever-deeper understanding of God means that the formulations of doctrine organized by reference to them must be open structures of thought and statement.” (P. 50)

“In a realist theology this will mean that we must distinguish no less sharply between dogmatic formulations of the truth and the truth itself, in the recognition that even when we have done all that it is our duty to do in relating them rightly (i.e., in an “orthodox” way) to the truth, they nevertheless fall far short of what they should be, and are inadequate. Indeed, it must be said that their inadequacy in this way is an essential part of their truth, in pointing away from themselves to the truth they serve, as it is an essential element in their objectivity in being grounded beyond themselves on reality that is independent of them.” (P. 50-1)

“The Holy Scriptures are the spectacles through which we are brought to know the true God in such a way that our minds fall under the compelling power of his self-evidencing Reality.” (P. 64-5)

“As such Jesus Christ is the Word through whom and with whom and in whom the true and faithful response of man is made to God and divine revelation completes the circle of its own movement.” (P. 86)

“Once and for all he [Jesus Christ] has become God’s exclusive language to man and he alone must be man’s language to God.” (P. 88)

“Strictly speaking, Christ himself is the scope of the Scriptures, so that it is only through focusing constantly upon him, dwelling in his Word and assimilating his Mind, that the interpreter can discern the real meaning of the Scriptures. What is required then is a theological interpretation of the Scriptures under the direction of their ostensive reference to God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ and within the general perspective of faith.” (P. 107)

“That is to say, biblical statements are to be treated not as containing or embodying the Truth of God in themselves, but as pointing, under the leading of the Spirit of Truth, to Jesus Christ himself who is the Truth. We have to recognize the fact, therefore, that the Scriptures indicate much more than can be expressed, and that there is much more to their truth than can be reduced to words.” (P. 119)

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