Affable Bustle

“Churches that seem to live in an atmosphere of affable bustle, where all is heart and nothing is soul, where men decay and worship dies.  There is an activity which is an index of more vigour than faith, more haste than speed, more work than power.

It is sometimes more inspired by the business passion of efficiency than the Christian passion of fidelity or adoration.  Its aim is to make the concern go rather than to compass the Righteousness of God.  We want to advance faster than faith can, faster than is compatible with the moral genius of the Cross, and the law of its permanent progress.

We occupy more than we can hold.  If we take in new ground we have to resort to such devices to accomplish it that the tone of religion suffers and the love or care for Christian truth.  And the preacher, as he is often the chief of sinners in this respect, is also the chief of sufferers.  And so we may lose more in spiritual quality than we gain in Church extension.

In God’s name we may thwart God’s will.  Faith, ceasing to be communion, becomes mere occupation, and the Church a scene of beneficent bustle, from which the Spirit flees.  Religious progress outruns moral, and thus it ceases to be spiritual in the Christian sense, in any but a vague pious sense.”

P. T. Forsyth, The Preaching of Jesus and the Gospel of Christ, p.119

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