The Generation Game

Working on an essay on P T Forsyth’s kenosis theology. Found this stunning quote from 1916 (the middle of WWI) on this blog:

The bane of modern and current religion is in the practical loss of the idea so closely identified with Love’s might, majesty, judgment, and glory — the idea of the holy. Either it is lost, or there is substituted for the moral meaning of it the aesthetic, and for the ethical the seemly; so that the response is but reverence instead of real worship, attrition instead of repentance, an extreme regard to religious decorum and good form…but no equal regard for the type of life…..And the root of this error , which taints and flattens the whole field of religion, is the abeyance of an atonement as the foundation of our faith, the atmosphere of our worship, and the principle of our life….If such an atonement [as the judgment of God] become otiose to our faith (as is increasingly the case), the note of the holy, i.e., the moral, must fade from it; and we are left with little beyond a piety either aesthetic, mystic, or sentimental, but too easy for judgment, too feeble for the control of civilisation, and fit only to become a branch of its culture. And the man of mere culture is shut out from the best it is in him to be.

It is the absolute self-delusion which ends in moral madness, because it shrinks, beyond everything else, from a habitual self-reference to the Cross as the judgment seat of Christ, and a constant correction there. Christ’s servants, and not His comrades, we are, His property by heavenly purchase, and not simply His poor relations nor His weak allies. A religion whose ethic is not founded in its forgiveness, which is not a daily repentance but a constant self-satisfaction, and which only abets by sanction the passion for power of unredeemed man, is a daily invitation to judgment. And we are now learning what judgment is. We have descended into hell.

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