ORRIGHT! This is the best thing I've learned in Hobart! And I don't think anything's gonna top it...!
Those of you who are my Facebook friends (yeah, I'm on there as well...) know that P. T. Forsyth is my hero. He's a little-known, under-appreciated, Scottish-born, German-trained, early-twentieth century English Congregationalist minister. He trained for ministry in the late 19th century, when theological Liberalism was all the rage. At that time, sin, judgement, Christ's death as atonement, etc, were all dismissed as "outdated notions". In his early days, he was a thoroughgoing Liberal. Nevertheless, as he did ministry and read the Bible, he became convinced that God was holy, and that he, P. T. Forsyth, was a sinner - a rebel against this most holy God. And he became convinced that the only way of being reconciled to this most holy God was through Christ's mighty act of atonement - the cross. It was a change of attitude that can only be described as a conversion. Forsyth's mature days were devoted to preaching Christ, and him crucified.
I first came across Forsyth on two fateful days in January 2005. I happened to have his book, The Cruciality of the Cross, on my bookshelf. I started to read it - and got totally hooked. Read it cover-to-cover in two days straight. Fantastic stuff.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones is a late-twentieth century English Nonconformist preacher, known for his passionate preaching of the cross. He strongly influenced my supervisor, David Jones - along with a whole generation of English Nonconformists.
Apparently in his early years, Lloyd-Jones preached regeneration, more than forgiveness. Faced with a dead church and rampant nominalism, he challenged people to take their Christian profession seriously, and live Christian lives. However, someone criticised him that in the process, he wasn't pointing people to Jesus. He was just browbeating them about their need to be "born again", without telling them clearly enough about how Jesus makes us to be born again.
Lloyd-Jones took this criticism seriously, and set about doing some reading about the importance of the cross. The result was that his preaching became much more cross-focused. He preached the atonement more than regeneration.
And the book that influenced him most?
P. T. Forsyth. The Cruciality of the Cross.
[I found the reference to this in Iain Murray's biography of MLJ, "The First Forty Years", Banner of Truth (1982) pp 191 - 192.]