On Gospel, Historical Criticism and Faith

‘It is the Gospel that must save the Church and its beliefs; it is not the Church that can ever save the Gospel. The historic Gospel saved everything at the Reformation; it saved the Church from itself, and it must go on doing so. We must not come to the Gospel with the permission of the critics, we come to criticism in the power of the Gospel. Faith does not wait upon criticism, but it is an essential condition of it. The complete critic is not a mere inquirer, but a believer. It was to believers, not critics, that the things appealed which are criticised most today. Critical energy is only just and true when it is in the hands of a Church whose heart is full of evangelical faith. The passion of an apostolic missionary faith is an essential condition to a sound criticism and a safe; and by “sound” I don’t merely mean sound to the Confessions, I mean sound to the mind; and by “safe” I do not merely mean safe for the Church, but safe for the soul. I mean that faith in the Gospel, evangelical faith, is essential for that full complete view of the case upon which sound results are based; it is essential in order to be fair to all the facts. It must enter in, not to decide whether we shall expect proved results, but to decide the results which we are to count as proved. Faith is not only an asset which criticism must include in its audit, but it is an organ that criticism must use. The eye cannot say to the ear, “I have no need of thee.”‘ PT Forsyth, ‘An Allegory of the Resurrection’, Christian World Pulpit 61 (14 May 1902): 314.

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