Athanasius, T.F. Torrance, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ

I just stumbled on this piece, written in response to a comment I made about Thomas F. Torrance and his teaching on the vicarious humanity of Christ, today. EO readers will find it of interest, especially given recent discussion about angels and their relationship to the atoning work of the incarnate Christ.


After a recent post on the vicarious humanity of Christ, Fr Aidan Kimel, who blogs at Eclectic Orthodoxy, expressed doubt in a Facebook comment as to whether, apart from T.F. Torrance and Karl Barth, the doctrine has actually had any major proponents throughout church history. It is, of course, well known that Torrance attributed his view of Christ’s vicarious humanity to the patristic era, especially to the work of the pro-Nicene fathers. Fr Kimel, on the other hand, questions Torrance’s reading of the fathers – such as Athanasius – and wonders if Torrance was perhaps reading more of his own views into Athanasius than he was actually reading Athanasius. He writes:

I wonder if anyone during the patristic period articulated and employed the vicarious human nature of Christ the way that TFT does. TFT invokes Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria for support, e.g., but I’m skeptical how strongly the texts…

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2 Responses to Athanasius, T.F. Torrance, and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ

  1. I think it’s the same way of seeing things, with different words used. How difficult we make it! The thing both Torrance and Athanasius both do is show the love of God, coming into our darkness, because we were lost. Something they both agree only the Divine could do, and did do out of love for us and what we meant to them. We try so hard theologically, we miss the love under our own nose…..and are in danger of missing it altogether. How right Rowan Williams was when He said Christianity perennially forgets how it learnt to speak! I think, actually, that puts us in grave danger. Our own worship of the study and intellect of Christianity, rather than just focusing on living it!

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  2. Rob says:

    Fr. Kimmel, a bit off topic, but that quote from St. John Cassian you posted left me a bit confused. If, as he says, we can never be worthy of the mysteries, then why would Paul warn of communing unworthily? Further, if we are simply constitutionally incapable of becoming worthy, then why should that fact bother us in any way? I do not blame myself for being unable to sprout wings and fly to the moon, if likewise nothing I could do would render me less unworthy of communion then why should I care about that? Such care would be a waste of time.


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