Thomas Torrance

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Thomas Torrance (1871–1959), born in Shotts, Scotland, was a Scottish Protestant missionary to China. He was first sent there by the China Inland Mission (CIM), and later by The American Bible Society. He married Annie Elizabeth Sharp (1883–1980) of the CIM in 1911. He was the father of the 20th century theologian, Thomas F. Torrance. [1]

Shotts rural town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland

Shotts is a town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. It is located almost halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. The town has a population of about 8,840. A local story has Shotts being named after the legendary giant Bertram de Shotts, though toponymists give the Anglo-Saxon derived 'sceots' as the real source of the name. Shotts is the home of the 2015 world champion pipe band, Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band.


Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the fourth largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.



Torrance was born in Shotts, Scotland in 1871. He came from a strong evangelical Church of Scotland background. [2] He attended Hulme Cliff College in Derbyshire from 1892 to 1894, and then studied at Livingstone College, London from 1894 to 1895. [3] After finishing his training at Cliff and Livingstone Colleges for missionary service, he was first sent to Chengdu, Sichuan in 1895, by the China Inland Mission (CIM). [4] Torrance was stationed in Western Szechuan, from 1896 to 1910 as a missionary. While he was there, the Boxer Uprising of 1900 occurred.

Derbyshire ceremonial county in East Midlands, England

Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire, containing the southern extremity of the Pennine range of hills which extend into the north of the county. The county contains part of the National Forest, and borders on Greater Manchester to the northwest, West Yorkshire to the north, South Yorkshire to the northeast, Nottinghamshire to the east, Leicestershire to the southeast, Staffordshire to the west and southwest and Cheshire also to the west. Kinder Scout, at 636 metres (2,087 ft), is the highest point in the county, whilst Trent Meadows, where the River Trent leaves Derbyshire, is its lowest point at 27 metres (89 ft). The River Derwent is the county's longest river at 66 miles (106 km), and runs roughly north to south through the county. In 2003 the Ordnance Survey placed Church Flatts Farm at Coton in the Elms as the furthest point from the sea in Great Britain.

Chengdu Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Sichuan, Peoples Republic of China

Chengdu, formerly romanized as Chengtu, is a sub-provincial city which serves as the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan. It is one of the three most-populous cities in Western China, the other two being Chongqing and Xi'an. As of 2014, the administrative area housed 14,427,500 inhabitants, the largest in Sichuan, with an urban population of 10,152,632. At the time of the 2010 census, Chengdu was the fifth-most populous agglomeration in China, with 10,484,996 inhabitants in the built-up area including Xinjin County and Deyang's Guanghan City. Chengdu is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification, according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

Sichuan Province

Sichuan is a landlocked province in Southwest China occupying most of the Sichuan Basin and the easternmost part of the Tibetan Plateau between the Jinsha River on the west, the Daba Mountains in the north, and the Yungui Plateau to the south. Sichuan's capital city is Chengdu. The population of Sichuan stands at 81 million.

Torrance had a number of disagreements with the CIM and eventually left and returned to Scotland in 1910. While at the Edinburgh 1910 World Missionary Conference, he met Dr. John R. Hykes, who was head of the American Bible Society (ABS) in Shanghai. Hykes persuaded him to return to China to take over the West China agency of the ABS in Sichuan, based in Chengdu. [3] [5]

1910 World Missionary Conference

The 1910 World Missionary Conference, or the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, was held on 14 to 23 June 1910. Some have seen it as both the culmination of nineteenth-century Protestant Christian missions and the formal beginning of the modern Protestant Christian ecumenical movement, after a sequence of interdenominational meetings that can be traced back as far as 1854.

The American Bible Society (ABS) is a United States–based nondenominational Bible society which publishes, distributes and translates the Bible and provides study aids and other tools to help people engage with the Bible. Founded on May 11, 1816, in New York City, it is probably best known for its Good News Translation of the Bible, with its contemporary vernacular. They also publish the Contemporary English Version. The American Bible Society is also a member of the Forum of Bible Agencies International. ABS's headquarters relocated from 1865 Broadway in New York City to Philadelphia in August 2015.

In 1911, Torrance married Annie Elizabeth Sharp who was also a member of the CIM, and was stationed in Kuanshien. [4] The couple had six children who were all born in China: Mary, Thomas F., Grace, Margaret, James, and David.

The Torrance family includes several well-known modern Scottish theologians and clergymen, primarily associated with the Church of Scotland. The patriarch of the Torrance family of theologians is Thomas Torrance (1871–1959), a Scottish missionary to China and father of Mary, Thomas F., Grace, Margaret, James, David.

Thomas F. Torrance 20th century Protestant theologian

Thomas Forsyth Torrance,, commonly referred to as T. F. Torrance, was a Scottish Protestant theologian. Torrance served for 27 years as professor of Christian dogmatics at New College, in the University of Edinburgh. He is best known for his pioneering work in the study of science and theology, but he is equally respected for his work in systematic theology. While he wrote many books and articles advancing his own study of theology, he also edited the translation of several hundred theological writings into English from other languages, including the English translation of the thirteen-volume, six-million-word Church Dogmatics of Swiss theologian Karl Barth, as well as John Calvin's New Testament Commentaries. He was a member of the famed Torrance family of theologians.

J. B. Torrance Scottish theologian

James B. Torrance was a Scottish theologian, biblical scholar, and academic. He was Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen. He was a younger brother to Thomas F. Torrance and father of Alan Torrance. He gave the 1994 Didsbury Lectures, and the 2001 Warfield Lectures at Princeton.

Due to communist troubles under Chiang Kai-shek, the Torrance family left China in 1927. They settled in Scotland. [3] Thomas Torrance would return to China to continue his missionary work, without his family, for seven years, but leave China for the final time in 1934 due to the Chinese Civil War. [6] [7]

Communist Party of China Political party of the Peoples Republic of China

The Communist Party of China (CPC), also referred to as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China. The Communist Party is the sole governing party within mainland China, permitting only eight other, subordinated parties to co-exist, those making up the United Front. It was founded in 1921, chiefly by Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao. The party grew quickly, and by 1949 it had driven the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) government from mainland China after the Chinese Civil War, leading to the establishment of the People's Republic of China. It also controls the world's largest armed forces, the People's Liberation Army.

Chiang Kai-shek Chinese politician and military leader

Chiang Kai-shek, also known as Generalissimo Chiang or Chiang Chungcheng and romanized as Chiang Chieh-shih or Jiang Jieshi, was a Chinese nationalist politician, revolutionary and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and then in Taiwan until his death.

Chinese Civil War 1927–1950 civil war in China

The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led government of the Republic of China and the Communist Party of China (CPC) lasting intermittently between 1927 and 1949. Although particular attention is paid to the four years of fighting from 1945 to 1949, the war actually started in August 1927, after the KMT-CPC Alliance collapsed during the Northern Expedition. The conflict took place in two stages, the first between 1927 and 1937, and the second from 1946 to 1950; the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945 was an interlude in which the two sides were united against the forces of Japan. The Civil War resulted in a major revolution in China, with the Communists gaining control of mainland China and establishing the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, forcing the Republic of China (ROC) to retreat to Taiwan. A lasting political and military standoff between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait ensued, with the ROC in Taiwan and the PRC in mainland China both officially claiming to be the legitimate government of all China.

Torrance is known for discovering the Chi'ang people, [6] who he believed belonged to the Lost Tribes of Israel. [8] He was also instrumental in establishing the West China Union University Archaeological Museum. [4] [5]

Qiang people ethnic group of China

The Qiang people are an ethnic group in China. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by China, with a population of approximately 310,000 in 2000. They live mainly in a mountainous region in the northwestern part of Sichuan on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau.

West China Union University University in Chengdu.

The West China Union University (WCUU), also called West China University or Huaxi University, was a private university in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. It was the product of the collective efforts of four Protestant, denominational, missionary boards and eventually became a division of the West China Educational Union (WCEU), which was created in 1906.

He died in Edinburgh in 1959.

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  1. "What Scientists Get, and Theologians Don't, About Thomas F. Torrance". First Things. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  2. "Biography of Thomas Forsyth Torrance, by Elmer Colyer, used by permission of InterVarsity Press". Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  3. 1 2 3 Smalley, Compiled by Joan R. Duffy and Martha Lund;, File format:. "Guide to the Thomas T. Torrance Papers" . Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  4. 1 2 3 Torrance, Thomas F. "Thomas Torrance (1871—1959)". Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity . Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  5. 1 2 Crouch, Archie R. (1989-01-01). Christianity in China: A Scholars's Guide to Resources in the Libraries and Archives of the United States. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN   9780873324199.
  6. 1 2 Torrance, Thomas F. (1998). "Torrance, Thomas". In Anderson, Gerald H. (ed.). Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 675. ISBN   978-0-802-84680-8.
  7. "Guide to the Thomas T. Torrance Papers". Yale University Divinity School Library. Yale University. 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  8. Torrance, Thomas (1937). China's First Missionaries: Ancient Israelites. London: Thynne & Co.