P. T. Forsyth
Scottish Congregationalist divine
Peter Taylor Forsyth, also known as P. T. Forsyth, (1848-1921) was a Scottish theologian. The son of a postman, Forsyth studied at the University of Aberdeen and then in Göttingen. He was ordained into the Congregational ministry and served churches as pastor at Bradford, Manchester, Leicester and Cambridge, before becoming Principal of Hackney College, London (later subsumed into the University of London) in 1901.
Forsyth was born May 12, 1848, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland died November 11, 1921, London, England. The son of a postman, Forsyth studied at the University of Aberdeen and at Göttingen, where he was deeply influenced by the German Protestant theologian Albrecht Ritschl. After serving several Congregational churches in England, including Emmanuel Church, Cambridge, he became principal of Hackney Theological College in London. He began as a theologically liberal but gradually modified his position to one that resembled most the “positive theology” found in Germany.
His Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind (1907) and Lectures on the Church and the Sacraments (1917) recalled Protestants to the richness of their own teaching about the church at a time when liberalism and evangelicalism together were threatening to obscure it. Forsyth's most famous book, The Person and Place of Jesus Christ (1909), attempted to moralize dogma, to express in terms of modern personal experience the meaning of the doctrine of Christ's divinity. In Christ on Parnassus (1911), dealing with theology and the arts, and in The Justification of God (1916), he considered the relation of Christian faith to the questions of his day.
He reasserted the classic faith of the Reformation in terms appropriate to his own time, bringing the word 'grace' back into protestant theology and showing anew what was meant by the sovereigny of God as revealed in the Holy Love in Christ. Forsyth anticipated many insights chariteristic of Barth. Through Barth's work, Forsyth often misunderstood in his time, gained new attention.
Works by P. T. Forsyth
This book challenges its reader, convicting like a refining fire. As a theologian, Forsyth had first admired the liberal theology of the late 19th century, but then had abandoned it, feeling that it failed to address the seriousness of sin and justice. In this devotional examination of prayer, Forsyth prompts readers to probe their hearts as they commune with God. He delves deeply into human motivations, values, and understanding, surveying prayer’s practice and purpose at its most visceral foundations. Though difficult to read at times because so involved, those who study Forsyth’s book often come to treasure the experience.
In the preface to this collection of lectures, P.T. Forsyth writes, “There is no region where religion becomes so quickly theology as in dealing with the work of Christ.” He notes that theology, especially theology that deals so much with the “personal religion of sinful men” is apt to change, and thus it would seem an impossible matter to actually write a book on the matter with any hope of it having lasting effects. Forsyth’s work has remained a classic, however, perhaps because of his acknowledgment of the challenge he faced, and his humility in offering what he hoped would be a useful tool for people just beginning to develop their theology on Christ’s atoning work. This book of theology is a powerful reminder for all who read it that our theology and faith is centered first and foremost on the cross, and Forsyth expounds on this with a powerful rhetoric and thoughtful articulation.
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