Today is Easter. Here in honor of that memorial are some difficult but worthy lines from one of my favorite thinkers (from The Person and Place of Jesus Christ, Peter Taylor Forsyth, 1909, London).
What is truly human is not sin, sin is no factor of the true humanity, but only a feature of empirical humanity which is absolutely fatal to the true. What is truly human is not sin, but the power to be tempted….
He could be tempted because he loved; he could not sin because he loved so deeply, widely, infinitely, holily, because it was God he loved – God more than man. Thus the only temptation with real power for him was a temptation to good – to inferior forms of good. It was not the temptation to forsake the righteousness of God, but to seek it by other paths, less moral and less patient paths, than God’s highway of the holy cross….
What [would be] more plausible to a man of such power and of such ideas as Christ than to organise and lead his zealot nation in an irresistible crusade against pagan empire for a new order of society wherein should dwell the righteousness of God?
That was the Puritan dream [Cromwell’s armies]. But even a parliamentarian army was still an army; and a Cromwell ruled for God by the sword – as many of us who are his admirers today would seek the kingdom by the vote, that is, by our political tactics instead of by [Cromwell’s] military.
It was what makes, and always has made, the chief temptation of his Church – the reformation of society by every beneficent means except the evangelical …