Incarnation | Thomas F. Torrance

The cover of Torrance's IncarnationThe centre of the Christian faith is the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. Who Jesus is (Christology) and what Jesus did (Soteriology) comprise the crux of Christianity.

Thomas F. Torrance taught these two classes at Edinburgh University from 1952 to 1978. This volume, Incarnation, contains the notes of Torrance’s Christology class as edited by Robert T. Walker. The book is dense and full of historical theological detail. Consuming Incarnation on the printed page was challenging enough—I can’t imagine having to grasp this material in lecture format alone!

Torrance begins with a careful description of his “scientific method” which is probably not what you’re assuming. For Torrance, a subject has to be studied according to its own internal logic. The Christ has given himself to be understood by scripture. Rather than import some modernist framework for understanding how Jesus is fully God and fully man, Torrance stays with the logic of scripture.

The most important theme of Incarnation is the atoning nature of the hypostatic union. Even though the second volume in this series is dedicated to Soteriology—Atonement, Torrance repeatedly emphasizes how the union of God and man in one person was a crucial element in the salvation of humanity. If your Christology is wrong, your Soteriology falls apart. The unassumed is the unredeemed.

Incarnation is full of detailed historical arguments, from Scripture to Patristics to the Reformation. Every view is carefully explained and evaluated. In order to better grasp this material, I have summarized and offered some reflections on each section.

In the end, Torrance’s theology leads to doxology. You can’t help but be inspired to worship the God-man who assumed our fallen human nature in order to redeem humanity.

—Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, Robert T. Walker, Ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008).

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