The Problem of a Fatherly God but not a Holy One

PT Forsyth’s diagnosis of liberalism speaks to a common evangelical problem,

We have churches of the nicest, kindest people, who have nothing apostolic or missionary, who never knew the soul’s despair or breathless gratitude.

Any conception of God which exalts His Fatherhood at the cost of His holiness, or to its neglect, unsettles the moral throne of the universe…The fatherly God of recent religious liberalism…is a conception which by itself tends to do less than justice even to God’s love. It tends to take the authority out of the Gospel, the sinew out of preaching, the insight out of faith, the stamina out of character, and discipline out of the home. Such a view of God is not in sufficient moral earnest…It does not pierce and destroy our self-satisfaction. It has not spiritual depth, real and sincere as the piety is of many of its advocates…what I describe is a view of mercy which does justice neither to the majesty of God, nor to the greatness of man…We have churches of the nicest, kindest people, who have nothing apostolic or missionary, who never knew the soul’s despair or breathless gratitude…We cannot deal to any purpose with the great sins or the great fearless transgressors, the exceeding sinfulness and deep damnation of the race…And the people hear, but do not. They hear but do not fear. They are enchanted, but unchanged. Moral taste takes the place of moral insight. Religious sensibility stands where evangelical faith should be. Education takes the place of conversion, a happy nature of the new nature. Love takes the place of faith, uneasiness of concern, regret of repentance, and criticism of judgment. Sin becomes a thing of short weight…Our salvation becomes a somewhat common thing, and glorious heavens or fiery hells die into the light of drab and drowsy day….It aims at adjusting the grace of God to the natural realm rather than interpreting it by our moral soul and our moral coil…It does not do much in the way of effectively restoring the actual living relation between God and the soul.” [Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind, 243-245].

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