Parish minister, church historian, theologian, translator and interpreter of Karl Barth. Through his teaching at New College Edinburgh, his editorship of the Scottish Journal of Theology and convenorship of the Church of Scotland Doctrine Committee, and ongoing writing, his influence on Reformed theology around the world has been profound.
Although indebted to Barth and Calvin, and latterly finding support in Michael Polanyi, Torrance, a child of Scottish missionary parents in China, tapped deeply into Scottish realist and common sense philosophies, and engaged with the history of the philosophy of science in advancing the claims of theology to function with scientific rigour. He provided a theological backbone of Trinitarian Orthodoxy for a tradition historically engaged with Enlightenment rationalism and subjectivism.
President of Princeton Theological Seminary and Professor of Patristics. Formerly Master of Christ's College, Aberdeen where he was also Professor of Patristics and Christian Ethics. Moderator of the Church of Scotland 2003-4.
After ministry in Invergowie near Dundee, he became lecturer in the history of Christian thought at New College Edinburgh where his brother Tom was Professor of Dogmatics. Well versed in Patristics and committed to liturgical worship, he was widely known for his teaching on Calvin's covenantal theology, the significance of the Trinity, and the priesthood of Christ. For a time he chaired the Church of Scotland Panel on doctrine. He was professor of theology at Aberdeen (1977-1989).
After a significantly influential period as Professor of Theology at the Presbyterian Theological Hall and University of Otago Faculty of Theology in Dunedin New Zealand, Alan taught in London and is now Professor of Systematic Theology at St Andrew's University.