Communion with God: The Trinitarian Soteriology of Thomas F. Torrance

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Dick Eugenio


This thesis presents Thomas F. Torrance's Trinitarian soteriology, and as such seeks to combine the two most common but often separately treated doctrines in his theological cogitation: Trinity and soteriology. It argues that in a circular manner, Torrance's Trinitarian theology is explicitly soteriological and his soteriology is explicitly Trinitarian. This is because he (1) follows Barth's proposal that God's Being is inseparable from his Act, and vice versa, and (2) consistently employs his comprehensive theological rule that the Trinity is "the ground and grammar of theology." As such, this thesis also argues that not only is Torrance's soteriology Trinitarian, but that his soteriology could only be presented, understood and appreciated as Trinitarian. Non-trinitarian or implicitly Trinitarian readings of his soteriology cannot but fail to do justice to Torrance's theological consistency and genius. Furthermore, this thesis argues that Torrance's Trinitarian soteriology is consistent with his scientific and evangelical theology. On the one hand, Torrance's soteriological formulation follows scientific principles because he understands both the arche and telos of human salvation in strict accordance with the Being, Persons and Work of the Triune God. This is referred in the thesis as Torrance's kataphysic soteriology. On the other hand, Torrance's soteriological formulation follows an evangelical procedure grounded in the evangelical content of revelation. Because the content of God's Self-revelation is the Triune God reconciling the world to himself, Torrance understands that the Three Persons are actively involved in the salvific economy in strict accordance with their hypostases as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The evangelical procedure and sketch that Torrance employs is derived from 2 Corinthians 13:14, "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit." For Torrance, the ultimate telos of human salvation is participation in the very Life and Love of the Triune God. This may be referred to as humanity's perichoretic participation in the Communion of Love that God is. Humanity's sharing in the Triune Communion, however, is a mediated participation, encapsulated in the Athanasian aphorism "from the Father through the Son in the Spirit and in the Spirit through the Son to the Father." All three Persons of the Triune God fulfil distinct salvific agencies in accordance to their hypostases, but their distinct agencies have a united source and goal: the mediation of reconciliation with the Triune God. It is also argued that our participation in the Triune Communion is a human participation, or that we relate with the Triune God as humanized humans rather than as metamorphosized divine beings.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
    Award date1 Aug 2012