“It is not a new theology we need so much as a renovated theology, in which orthodoxy is deepened against itself, and not pared away.
It is a new touch with our mind and, conscience on the moral nerve of the old faith. We have had many new theologies in the last hundred years. Theological enterprise has been turning them out freely. But the vein of liberalism, which thus followed on the old Orthodoxy, has been worked out for the preacher’s purpose.
It is now exhausted of religious ore. The spring has given out (to change the image), and the stream runs thin, and whispers softly among little pebbles, though once it roared among great boulders now left behind in the hills.
It is not sermons we need, but a Gospel, which sermons are killing.
We need to go behind and beneath all our common thought and talk. What we require is not a race of more powerful preachers, but that which makes their capital – a new Gospel which is yet the old, the old moralised, and replaced in the conscience, and in the public conscience, from which it has been removed.
We need that the Gospel we offer be moralised at the centre from the Cross, and not rationalised at the surface by thin science.
We need that more people should be asking, “What must I do to be saved?” rather than “What should I rationally believe?”
We need power more than truth.
We need a new sense of the living God as the God whose eternal Redemption is as relevant and needful to this age’s conscience as to the first.
It is not a ministry we need, but a Gospel, which makes both ministry and Church. The Church will not furnish the ministers the age requires unless it provides them with a Gospel which they will never get from the age, but only from the Bible for the age.
But it is from a Bible searched by regenerates for a Gospel, and not exploited for sermons by preachers anxious to succeed with the public. It may be best to preach to the sinners and to the saints and never mind at present the public, who feel neither.
If we do that well the public will respect us. If we think of the world, let us think chiefly of the world as the arena of an eternal Redemption, and not of a professional success, or of a social revolution.”
P. T. Forsyth, The Church and the Sacraments, p.20-21 (Lectures delivered in 1917)