The missional nature of divine-human communion : Thomas F. Torrance and the Chinese church
Seed, Caroline Grace
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This thesis evaluates the conjunction of dogmatics and mission practice in the Torrance corpus by considering the missional nature of divine-human communion in Torrance's published works in the light of unpublished archive materials relating to his mission engagement with China. It shows that the previously noted holism of Torrance's theology has practical outcomes both in terms of its understanding of the integral nature of the theology of mission within dogmatics and in terms of his individual “call” to practical mission involvement with the Qiang peoples of Western China. Its major contribution to Torrance scholarship is that it locates his theology firmly within his persona in such a way that it considers Torrance's life and intellectual output as one and so challenges the tendency to intellectualise Torrance's theology to the neglect of his mission engagement. This has further implications for the conjuncture of dogmatics, biblical theology and biblical theology of mission. The thesis proceeds by evaluating previous research into aspects of divine-human communion that suggest missional outcomes. It establishes a biblical framework for evaluation using Torrance's theory of the threefold stratification of knowledge that moves from the exegesis to biblical theology to dogmatics. It then evaluates Torrance's theology of the missional nature of divine-human communion in the light of the biblical evidence before appraising unpublished sources relating to the practical involvement of the Torrance family in mission in China from 1895-1994. The thesis concludes that Torrance's theology of the missional nature of divine-human communion is premised on the covenantal obligations of Israel and the church to be a “royal priesthood” among the nations. The missional obligation of Israel and the missional calling of the church of the new covenant in Christ come together in the mission history of the Torrance family through the purported Israelite origins of Qiang people of the upper Min valley. The missio Dei that sent the Qiang to China in ancient times, sends the Son to the world in the fullness of time and thereafter sends the Torrance family to the Jewish Qiang to bring the good news that the Saviour has come. The unitary nature of mission practice and theology saturates Torrance's work on divine-human communion with missional purpose and gives it a particularly strong sense of the church's mission to the Jews.
- Theology