Archive for the ‘J. Gresham Machen’ Category

Apologetics and Liberalism

August 1, 2009

J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937), a Presbyterian theologian who started Westminster Theological Seminary (after a conservative revolt against modernist theology that was being pushed at Princeton Theological Seminary) observed about those who embraced modernist theology:

this curious fact – when men talk thus about propagating Christianity without defending it, the thing that we are propagating is pretty sure not to be Christianity at all. They are propagating an anti-intellectualistic, nondoctrinal Modernism; and the reason why it requires no defense is simply that it is so completely in accord with the current of the age.

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Liberalism and Apologetics

February 6, 2009

J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937), a Presbyterian theologian who started Westminster Theological Seminary (after a conservative revolt against modernist theology that was being pushed at Princeton Theological Seminary) observed about those who embraced modernist theology:

this curious fact – when men talk thus about propagating Christianity without defending it, the thing that we are propagating is pretty sure not to be Christianity at all. They are propagating an anti-intellectualistic, nondoctrinal Modernism; and the reason why it requires no defense is simply that it is so completely in accord with the current of the age.

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Liberal Dogmatism

October 3, 2008

“Teachings,” it is said, “are unimportant; the exposition of the teachings of liberalism and the teachings of Christianity, therefore, can arouse no interest at the present day; creeds are merely the changing expression of a unitary Christian experience, and provided only they express that experience they are all equally good. The teachings of liberalism, therefore, might be as far removed as possible from the teachings of historic Christianity, and yet the two might be at bottom the same.”

…Such is the way in which expression is often given to the modern hostility to “doctrine.” But is it really doctrine as such that is objected to, and not rather one particular doctrine in the interests of another? Undoubtedly, in many forms of liberalism it is the latter alternative which fits the case. There are doctrines of modern liberalism, just as tenaciously and intolerantly upheld as any doctrines that find a place in the historic creeds. Such for example are the liberal doctrines of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. These doctrines are, as we shall see, contrary to the doctrines of the Christian religion. But doctrines they are all the same, and as such they require intellectual defense. In seeming to object to all theology, the liberal preacher is often merely objecting to one system of theology in the interests of another. And the desired immunity from theological controversy has not yet been attained.

Christian and Liberalism
By J. Gresham Machen
Doctrine
Chapter 1

And so today, those who would throw off the binding shackles of conformity to the doctrines of Scripture must take upon themselves another yoke in the name of ‘freedom’ of thought. They will claim their beliefs are self-evident, tolerant, fair-minded etc.

But it is only in obedience to the Son, through the knowledge of Him that we will experience the truth that sets free. And it is only the true, self-revealing Jesus that sets free. Not the ‘Jesus’ we have made in our own image.

Why We Need Doctrine

October 3, 2008

Why can’t we just get rid of, ignore or downplay controversial doctrine. Why does it matter? Can’t we just live by the Sermon on the Mount or the Golden Rule? Here’s J. Gresham Machen:

May we not get rid of the bizarre, theological element which has intruded itself even into the Sermon on the Mount, and content ourselves merely with the ethical portion of the discourse? The question, from the point of view of modern liberalism, is natural. But it must be answered with an emphatic negative. For the fact is that the ethic of the discourse, taken by itself, will not work at all. The Golden Rule furnishes an example. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”–is that rule a rule of universal application, will it really solve all the problems of society? A little experience shows that such is not the case. Help a drunkard to get rid of his evil habit, and you will soon come to distrust the modern interpretation of the Golden Rule. The trouble is that the drunkard’s companions apply the rule only too well; they do unto him exactly what they would have him do unto them –by buying him a drink. The Golden Rule becomes a powerful obstacle in the way of moral advance. But the trouble does not lie in the rule itself; it lies in the modern interpretation of the rule. The error consists in supposing that the Golden Rule, with the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, is addressed to the whole world. As a matter of fact the whole discourse is expressly addressed to Jesus’ disciples; and from them the great world outside is distinguished in the plainest possible way. The persons to whom the Golden Rule is addressed are persons in whom a great change has been wrought–a change which fits them for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Such persons will have pure desires; they, and they only, can safely do unto others as they would have others do unto them, for the things that they would have others do unto them are high and pure…

Christian and Liberalism
By J. Gresham Machen
Doctrine
Chapter 1

Naturalism and Supernaturalism

October 3, 2008

The distinction between “natural” and “supernatural” does not mean, indeed, that nature is independent of God; it does not mean that while God brings to pass supernatural events, natural events are not brought to pass by Him. On the contrary, the believer in the supernatural regards everything that is done as being the work of God. Only, he believes that in the events called natural, God uses means, whereas in the events called supernatural He uses no means, but puts forth His creative power. The distinction between the natural and the supernatural, in other words, is simply the distinction between God’s works of providence and God’s work of creation; a miracle is a work of creation just as truly as the mysterious act which produced the world.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, ch.4