On manipulative preachers and the mawkishly pious

Critical of those preachers who set out to manipulate people’s emotions, Forsyth averred that the

Gospel of a Saviour who even dies just to impress us with His love, instead of surprising us with joy as we discover Him going to the business of our case and really acting for us with God and against our enemy, captor, and accuser … must be ineffective on all but the weak. It is an æsthetic Gospel; sympathetic at best, and at worst sentimental; it is not action, it does not work; and it is part cause, part effect, of that green mould of sentimentalism which is sapping so much popular religion, and sinking adult men to read novels of mawkish piety that sell in tens of thousands and madden the manly mind to refuge in Tom Jones.

– P.T. Forsyth, ‘The Preaching of Jesus and the Gospel of Christ. [VII:] The Meaning of a Sinless Christ’. The Expositor 8th Series, 25 (1923), 304.

The full text of the sermon from which these words come can be found in my forthcoming book ‘Descending on Humanity and Intervening in History’: Notes from the Pulpit Ministry of P.T. Forsyth (Eugene: Pickwick Publications).

3 thoughts on “On manipulative preachers and the mawkishly pious

  1. I look forward to reading your book Jason. You’re a fine writer.

    I read this at another blog earlier this evening.

    From St. Francis of Assisi, Earlier Rule (Regula non bullata)

    All my brothers, let us pay attention to what the Lord says: Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you (Mt 5:44) for our Lord Jesus Christ. Whose footprints we must follow, called His betrayer a friend and willingly offered himself to his executioners.
    Our friends, therefore, are all those who unjustly inflict upon us distress and anguish, shame and injury, sorrow and punishment, martyrdom and death. We must love them greatly for we shall possess eternal life because of what they bring us.

    Like

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