Torrance on Worship & Christian Theology


I have long thought and taught that the right road into Christian theology is taken by reflecting on Christian worship in the light of the Bible. The Bible is supremely a manual of worship, but too often it has been treated, particularly in Protestantism, as a manual of ethics, of moral values, of religious ideas, or even of sound doctrine. When we see that the worship and mission of the church are the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son's communion with the Father and the Son's mission from the Father to the world, that the unique center of the Bible is Jesus Christ, "the apostle and high priest whom we confess" (Heb. 3:1), then the doctrines of the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, the ministry of the Spirit, Church and sacraments, our understanding of the kingdom, our anthropology and eschatology, all unfold from that center. If out of the confessional (kerygmatic) statements of the Bible come doxological statements, Christian dogmatics unfolds from reflections on doxology. True theology is done in the presence of God in the midst of the worshiping community. The "two horizons" of the Bible and our contemporary church life fuse in worship, as at the Lord's Table, when we seek together in a life of communion to comprehend with the saints of all ages the triune love of God in Christ.

-- James B. Torrance, from the preface of WORSHIP, COMMUNITY & THE TRIUNE GOD OF GRACE, InterVarstiy Press, pp. 9-10. Dr. Torrance is professor emeritus of systematic theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. This book comes out of the Didsbury Lectures, given at the Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, England, in November 1994.

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.