It is significant and heartening that these two books about Peter Taylor Forsyth should appear almost simultaneously. Long neglected or at least overlooked by American theology, Peter Taylor Forsyth not only deserves to be heard in our time, but must be heard because what he has to say so strangely fits our needs and contributes to the solution of our religious and theological problems. Both of these young authors intend, through their books, to give the reader a taste of Forsyth’s thought on a great range of theological topics, and in so far as possible, both let the man speak for himself. Through these quotations, we are brought face to face, or it is better said, heart to heart with the warm, vital, stimulating, if sometimes paradoxical, thought and language of this “prophet of today.”
Dr. Bradley gives the newcomer a very commendable introduction to Forsyth in the three opening chapters of his book. P. T. Forsyth had an interesting and vital life as preacher, lecturer, writer and seminary president. Never a man to seek out controversy, he often found himself the center of such storms. We must know this volume. He has attempted to set forth in very brief form Forsyth’s thought on four great and important theological matters:
The Holiness of God, The Atonement, The Doctrine of Christ, and The Church. Dr. Bradley has brought together in his concluding chapter representative opinions regarding Forsyth and, rather than decreasing the stature of the man, we come more and more to recognize that here is one to whom we should listen with strict attention. One cardinal weakness in Dr. Bradley’s volume is the lack of any index; perhaps this could be added in later and revised editions.
Dr. Brown’s style is more readable and I found his discussion of Forsyth’s interpretation of history and the necessity of the church particularly rewarding. The rather formidable list of the works of Forsyth included at the end of Dr. Brown’s book testify to the magnitude of the task undertaken by these young men. The excellent index at the conclusion of this second book will be of great help to the student or minister who is just beginning to get acquainted with the fertile and prolific mind of this “prophet of today.”
It is to be hoped that both of these men will continue their interest in, and interpretation of, Forsyth, for in so doing they do a real service to both American theology and Protestant churchmanship. Neither can very long continue to ignore the works of one who, though dead, “yet speaketh” to our needs and time with strange contemporaneousness.
This review first appeared in Journal of Bible and Religion, Vol. 21, No. 4. (Oct., 1953), 292.