From Peter Forsyth, The Work Of Christ; Cf. The Work of Christ at Amazon
I place on the board before you five points as to Christ’s reconciling work which I think vital:
1. It is between person and person.
2. Therefore it affects both sides.
3. It rest on atonement.
4. It is a reconciliation of the world as one whole.
5. It is final in its nature and effect.
I was saying yesterday that two cautions ought to be observed in connection with this matter of reconciliation. First, we should not hide up the idea of reconciliation by the idea of atonement; we should not obscure the end, or the effect, by the great and indispensable means to it. Second, at the other extreme we are to beware of emptying reconciliation of atonement altogether. Two very great thinkers arose last century in Germany – where most of the thinking on this subject has for the last hundred years been done. Much of our work has been to steal. That does not matter if it is done wisely and gratefully. When a man gives out a great thought, get it, work it; it is common property. It belongs to the whole world, to be claimed and assimilated by whoever shall find. Well, there were two very powerful men in Germany much opposed to each other, yet at a certain point at one – Hegel and Ritschl. While they preached the doctrine of reconciliation in different senses, they both united to obscure the idea of atonement or expiation. Now we are to beware of emptying the reconciliation idea of the idea of atonement, whether we do it philosophically with Hegel or theologically with Ritschl. I mention these men because their thought has very profoundly affected English thinking, whether philosophical or theological. I protested yesterday against the practice, so common, of taking New Testament words, and words consecrated to Christian experience, emptying them of their essential content, and keeping them in a vapid use. That is done for various reasons. It is sometimes done because the words are too valuable to be parted with; sometimes because a philosophic interpretation seems to rescue them from the narrowness of an outworn theology; and it is sometimes done for lower motives in order to produce a fictitious impression upon people that they are still substantially hearing the substance of the old truths when really they are not.