Original Research

T.F. Torrance: Union with Christ through the Communion of the Spirit

Martin M. Davis
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 51, No 1 | a2313 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v51i1.2313 | © 2017 Martin M. Davis | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 August 2017 | Published: 27 November 2017

About the author(s)

Martin M. Davis, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa and Greenwich School of Theology, United Kingdom


Union with Christ is a heuristic, over-arching rubric for the discussion of many themes in Torrance’s soteriology. Union with Christ, however, has not been a major topic in Torrance studies. The purpose of this article is to address this inadequacy. The present article provides an overview of Torrance’s discussion of incarnational reconciliation and ‘vicarious humanity’ of Jesus Christ. According to Torrance, the hypostatic union is a dynamic, atoning union in which humanity is cleansed of sin and brought into sanctifying union with God. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus acts ‘vicariously’, reconciling humanity to God and sanctifying every stage of human life, so that union with Christ is fully and objectively accomplished for all humanity in Jesus. All aspects of Christian life, including faith, justification and sanctification are fully realised for all in the incarnate life of Christ. The objective union, established in the incarnation, is subjectively realised in the life of the believer through the communion of the Holy Spirit. In response to the objective reality of grace, believers are summoned to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Torrance’s assertion of union with Christ as a fait accompli in the incarnation and vicarious act of Christ raises questions regarding the subjective human response to salvation as well as the issue of universalism. Content is based on a review of primary literature published by Torrance over a span of more than 40 years as well as a review of recent secondary resources that include some aspect of the subject.


communion through the Spirit; hypostatic union; justification; sanctification; union with Christ


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