This Life and the Next

While most of PT Forsyth’s books attracted the publishers’ ‘reprint’ buttons (sometimes up to 11 or 12 different publishers, as was the case with his Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching delivered in 1907 at Yale University and subsequently published as Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind), by 1946 all of his books were out of print. Since then, of course, thanks to Independent Press and Hodder and Stoughton and, more recently, to our good friends at New Creation Teaching Ministry and Wipf and Stock, many of Forsyth’s bests works have been resuscitated. But not – at least not yet (one lives by hope, after all) – his final book, This Life and the Next, which first appeared in 1918.

Of the readers of Forsyth, too few have read this volume and, of those, sadly very few have spoken highly of it. Not a few have indicated that the book represents Forsyth’s greatest literary flop, and even his spiral into ‘heresy’, dealing as it does with themes not often tackled by so Protestant of spirits, such as prayer for the dead and what we might refer to as a Protestant reappraisal of the doctrine of purgatory.

But I like This Life and the Next very much and, for those who have previously drunk deeply from other Forsythian wells,  I reckon that it brings together nicely many of the themes and questions with which he increasingly wrestled in the decade before his death in 1921.

Anyway, all that is just a round-about way of saying that I’ve now made it available as a pdf here, ready to join the other links I’ve already provided to a number of his other works. So take up and read; or, should that be, download and read!


  1. When I was doing my research into Forsyth’s theodicy, I got hold of a copy of this book from the library and thought, given its length, that I could finish it in perhaps half a day. I ended up spending two whole days on it – simply overwhelmed by Forsyth’s observations and their profound relevance for his theodicy. Thanks, Jason, for finally enabling me to own a copy of it.


  2. Jason,
    Thanks for putting this one in the archive. I have been reading it again this Eastertide, and you beat me to the punch with a post on it. As you said it is perhaps his most neglected book, but there is a maturity and wisdom here quite unlike anything else he wrote, as if he knew it was his last book, which indeed it was. And with his continued ill health, death was most likely not far from his thoughts. The controversial argument about prayer for the dead is to my mind simply a logical Christological move not inconsistent with the rest of the arc of his theology, something that could well have come from Barth. Ironically, it is the only one of his books that I have two copies of, since it may be the most difficult one to find.


  3. Thanks for putting this book on the Net, Jason. Between you and Richard Floyd, I’m beginning to think it might be worth reading Mr Forsyth…! :) And it’s a subject close to my heart anyway…
    I had a quick peruse of the first few pages, including the dreadful poem by George Eliot. Forsyth was right to say she was a better prose writer than a poet.


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