From the PPL Archives: Thomas Torrance: The unborn human person is at the heart of the Gospel's message PDF Print E-mail

Thomas-Torrance-quoteExcerpted from an article in Presbyterians Pro-Life NEWS, Fall 2000

"He is not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being."Speaking directly out of the Reformation's echo of this biblical teaching, Thomas Torrance asserts that the teaching applies to the unborn as well as to the born. It is from our very beginning in the womb that God, who is actively at work in our creation, sustains us and makes us open for fellowship with him.

The late Thomas Torrance was a theologian with a working knowledge of the intersection of his discipline with science. His knowledge of science and his continual joining of science with theology is his unique quality. The failure to bring science and theology together on this subject has resulted scientifically in a purely materialistic understanding of the unborn child ("blob of tissue") and theologically in a disembodied understanding of humanness ("Presbyterians do not have substantial agreement on when human life begins...")*

Torrance uses the scientist's vocabulary to explain how genetically complete each of us is from the moment of conception. And he integrates into the scientific explanation the theological and biblical understanding of God at work in us before we are born. Torrance concludes that God "is the creative Word and transcendent source of the all-important information in the formation of every human being in body and soul."

"The virgin birth of Jesus is an essential part of the Gospel of salvation," says Torrance. It was in his unborn state that Jesus became one with us humans. Torrance heightens our understanding of the relationship between God and the unborn child by considering the Bible's portrayal of Jesus as embryo. In becoming an embryo, Jesus became brother to every embryo. "...[H]e healed and sanctified in himself what he had assumed from us—our humanity." Torrance points directly to Jesus' incarnation as an unborn child as the basis for the teachings of the early Church as well as the Reformers on abortion.

*Editor's Note: This statement references Problem Pregnancies and Abortion, the Report of the Special Committee on Problem Pregnancies and Abortion approved by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1992, I.E.1.n, page 11.



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