The Ascension of Christ: Its Significance in the Theology of T F Torrance

David Fergusson

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It has sometimes been remarked that the two most formidable personalities of British theology in the 20th century were Donald MacKinnon and Tom Torrance. In an obituary notice, John Webster spoke of the theological intensity of Torrance being matched only by the bleak genius of MacKinnon. They displayed many similarities – the rigour of their scholarship, a wide-ranging erudition, a commitment to the traditions of the church, and a theological seriousness. In other respects, however, MacKinnon and Torrance functioned quite differently. MacKinnon’s influence was probably most keenly felt through the example of his teaching. He shaped a generation of theologians, especially during his Cambridge years, through the questions he tackled, the commitments he displayed, and a searching interrogative method that resisted any easy or bland closure on intractable problems. Torrance was no less demanding, but I would judge that his longer-term influence on the discipline has been facilitated more by his publications than his teaching. Having been somewhat eclipsed in the years after his retirement, his work in the last decade has attracted renewed attention from a younger generation of scholars, particularly in North America and Asia. The success of the T F Torrance Fellowship and its electronic journal are indicators of the growth of interest. This has been further facilitated by the posthumous publication of two large volumes of his New College lectures at a surprisingly affordable price, and for this we are heavily indebted to the years of labour invested by Bob Walker, Torrance’s nephew. In the meantime, the Torrance archive has now been catalogued and opened for study in Princeton, a substantial resource that future students of his work will wish to explore.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-107
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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