If there’s one man who ranks among the more quotable theologians, I’d say that would be Peter Taylor Forsyth. If there’s one man who has quoted P. T. Forsyth more than any other, certainly that must be Carl Trueman.
I asked Dr. Trueman some time ago why he likes Forsyth so much, and here’s his response (which he later posted to his Reformation21 blog).
1. He ruthlessly attacks sentimentalism in religion. He shares this trait with Barth and Machen, both of whom share a further connection to him: as Forsyth studied under Albrecht Ritschl, Barth and Machen studied under Ritschl’s brilliant student, Wilhelm Herrmann. In their different ways, all three came to see that classic German liberalism was ultimately a form of sentimentalism. Of course, while I believe only Machen opposed sentimentalism on grounds secure enough to sustain his critique, the fact that all three men shared the same enemy on this makes all three worth listening to. This is why, for example, Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind still speaks so powerfully today: seeker-sensitive preaching, preaching that contextualizes first and looks to the word of God only second, if at all, is always going to end up as so much sentimental blancmange.
2. He sees the centrality of the cross to theology and preaching. Again, his own view of the atonement is, I would argue, defective; but in seeing the cross as rendering sentimentalism as void and as turning the gospel from a how-to thing into a declaration of what God has done, he points the church in the right direction. It was reading his little book, The Cruciality of the Cross which, according to Iain Murray, that turned Martyn Lloyd-Jones from a preacher of regeneration to a preacher of Christ crucified.
3. Like so many great figures in church history—Athanasius, Augustine, Luther, Newman, Lloyd-Jones—he is just so readable and so eminently quotable. No beating around the bush, no pulling of punches: just one direct hit after another. He is a pleasure to read, and a pleasure to quote to others.
P. T. Forsyth was a Scottish theologian in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. His writings are eminently pastoral, practical, eloquent, and—as Dr. Trueman notes—extremely quotable. Perhaps one of my personal favorite books, and certainly my most-highlighted in Logos, is Forsyth’s The Soul of Prayer. In this volume, Forsyth exhorts the reader to constant prayer as the means of fellowship with God and thus the enjoyment of the benefit Christ won for his church. He suggests that to not pray is “the sin behind all sin.” He further explores prayer as action and participation with God in his work.
Prayer is an act, indeed the act, of fellowship. We cannot truly pray even for ourselves without passing beyond ourselves and our individual experience. If we should begin with these the nature of prayer carries us beyond them, both to God and to man.
The Soul of Prayer is a little book—less than 100 pages—yet it is packed full of wonderful content. It has had more impact on my life personally than any book since John Owen‘s Mortification of Sin. Get The Soul of Prayer for less than $5 in Logos, and enjoy!
For even more from this celebrated theologian and preacher, pick up all 24 volumes of the P. T. Forsyth Collection.