On the conscience…

Lately, I’ve been digging into Forsyth’s thoughts on the human conscience, the centre not only of our racial unity but the sphere of God’s redemptive activity. There is a sense that understanding Forsyth here is to understand his entire theology. I thought I’d share a quote and invite responses: ‘What crushes my conscience is not a taunt from another individual, however great, but an indictment from the moral universe. I did not break a by–law, nor transgress a regulation; I collided with the moral unity of things, with the absolute holiness of God. I have to do with Him, and He with me. All the holiness of God bears down on my soul. Not His power, His influence, but His holiness. I am not a sensitive atom affected by Him, but a moral monad judged by Him. The question of personal religion therefore (the prime question, if not the first), the matter of most urgent certainty, is, How do I stand before my Judge?’ (Authority, 40-1).


  1. Hey Jason,

    Do you think forsyth on conscience makes sense in modern society. Especialy european which seems to have lost any sense of sin? Does this make forsyth irrelivent at this point.

    Or do you think that Forsyth would agree with barth that only the forgiven man knows the weight of his sin?


  2. Richard, a good question. I don’t think that Forsyth would make anymore sense today than he did when he first wrote concerning this issue, a fact he lamented even then. This, of course, does not mean that his analysis of things is wrong. By the way, have you seen/read the book ‘Atonement in a Sinless Society’ by Alan Mann. He argues that we should drop the word ‘sin’ today and replace it with guilt. ‘Sin’, he says, has become just as tainted, polluted and defiled in the postmodern mind as the word itself indicates. His argument is more often than not rightly motivated, but eschewed because it fails to deal with fallen reality and human need as it really is: not as ontological incoherence but as rebellion against a holy God. The preaching of the cross alone, upon which the church stands or falls, can reveal this, and the holiness of God, to the human heart. Here I think that Forsyth would agree with Barth re the knowledge of sin question, though I suspect that they would identity the locus of that knowledge in a slightly different place.


  3. To bring sin home, and to bring grace home, we need that something else should come home which alone givesmeanting to both-the holy.

    The cruciality of the cross page 22

    Maybe some one should write a book

    The preaching of holiness to a ‘sinless’ society.



  4. I stand forever beside my judge. I am trully blessed and honor my position. For words or comprehension cannot be described. Thank you for your beautiful kindness.


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