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Thomas Forsyth Torrance (30 August 19132 December 2007) was a 20th century Protestant Christian theologian who served for 27 years as Professor of Christian Dogmatics at New College, Edinburghmarker in the University of Edinburgh, during which time he was a leader in Protestant Christian theology. While he wrote many books and articles advancing his own study of theology, he also translated several hundred theological writings into English from other languages. Torrance edited the English translation of the thirteen-volume, six-million-word Church Dogmatics (Germ. Die Kirchliche Dogmatik) of celebrated Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Torrance's work has been influential in the paleo-orthodox movement, and he is widely considered to be one of the most important Reformed theologians of his era.

Early life and education

Torrance was born to Scottishmarker missionary parents while they were serving in Chengdumarker, Szechuanmarker, Chinamarker.He first studied Classics at the University of Edinburgh and University of Oxfordmarker before receiving an academic scholarship that brought him to the University of Baselmarker in Basel, Switzerlandmarker. There, Torrance studied under theologian Karl Barth -- whom he had long admired -- and the experience made him a life-long Barthian.

Professorship and work

Torrance initially served as a professor at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York Citymarker, U.S.marker, but resigned the post two years later with the outbreak of World War II. He served as a chaplain during the war, and then after the war moved to Scotland and served as a Church of Scotlandmarker parish minister for a decade. Torrance was then offered a professorship at New College, Edinburghmarker in the University of Edinburgh to teach church history. Because of his thorough understanding of theology he was later installed as Professor of Christian Dogmatics, a position that he held from 1952 to 1979.

He was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1976 (his son Iain held the same post in 2003).

In 1978, he won the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion for his contributions to theology and the relationship between it and science.

He was influential in work on theological method and the relationship between theology and science. Opposed to dualistic thought, he argued that modern science is similar to theology in that it is developed in terms of relation and integration: each has its distinctive method, and each is fully rational.

See also


  • The Apocalypse Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959.
  • The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996.
  • Christian Theology and Scientific Culture. Belfast: Christian Journals, 1980.
  • The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers, Thesis for Basel University. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1948
  • Divine Meaning. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1995.
  • God and Rationality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.
  • The Ground and Grammar of Theology. Charlottesville, VA: The University Press of Virginia, 1981.
  • The Hermeneutics of John Calvin. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1988.
  • "Justification: Its Radical Nature and Place in Reformed Doctrine and Life," SJT 13 (1960) 240.
  • Karl Barth: an Introduction to his Early Theology, 1910-1931. New York: Harper, 1962.
  • "Karl Barth and Patristic Theology," in Theology Beyond Christendom: Essays on the Centenary of the Birth of Karl Barth May 10, 1986. ed. John Thompson. Allison Park, PA: Pickwich, 1986, 215-39.
  • "My Interactions with Karl Barth," How Karl Barth Changed My Mind, ed. Donald McKim. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.
  • Reality and Evangelical Theology. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982.
  • Reality and Scientific Theology. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1986.
  • "The Relation of the Incarnation to Space in Nicene Theology," The Ecumenical World of Orthodox Civilization: Russia and Orthodoxy. V. 3. (Essays in Honor of Georges Florovsky) ed. Andrew Blane. Paris: Mouton, 1974.
  • The Royal Priesthood. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1955/1993.
  • Space, Time and Incarnation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.
  • Space, Time and Resurrection. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.
  • The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988.
  • Ed. Theological Dilaogue Between Orthodox and Reformed Churches, 2 Vols. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1985-1993.
  • Theological Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.
  • Theology and Reconciliation: Essays Towards Evangelical and Catholic Unity in East and West. London: Chapman, 1975.
  • Theology in Reconstruction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965.
  • "Theological Realism." The Philosophical Frontiers of Christian Theology: Essays Presented to D. M. MacKinnon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, 169-96.
  • "Toward Ecumenical Consensus on the Trinity," Theologische Zeitschrift 31 (1975) 337-50.
  • A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field, James Clerk Maxwell, edited by Torrance, Scottish Academic Press, February 1983, ISBN 0-7073-0324-9
* Paperback reprinted by Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers, March 1996), ISBN 1-5791-0015-5
  • Transformation & Convergence in the Frame of Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984.
  • Trinitarian Perspectives: Toward Doctrinal Agreement. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994.
  • "The Uniqueness of Divine Revelation and the Authority of the Scriptures: The Creed Associations's Statement." Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 13 (Aut. 1995): 97-101.
  • Theological and Natural Science. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2002.


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