Skip Navigation

J. Gresham Machen

The Relevance of J. Gresham Machen by Darryl G. Hart, Ph. D., visiting professor of history at Hillsdale College, MI.  Hart explains Princeton professor J. Gresham Machen's historic role in warning the Presbyterian church that the controversies that wracked the church were fundamentally between two different faiths: liberalism (progressivism) and historic Christian faith.  Sep/Oct 2012 Theology Matters, p. 1.

Christianity and Liberalism: The Bible, by J. Gresham Machen.  Sep/Oct 2012 Theology Matters, p. 9. In his book, Christianity and Liberalism, Machen details the conflicting doctrines between biblical Christianity and liberalism.  We have included his chapter on the Bible in which Machen contrasts the liberal and historic understanding of Scripture.  Even in the early twentieth century liberals sought to put human experience above the word of Scripture.  Liberals tried to argue that their authority was Christ but it was a Christ apart from Scripture and known only by their personal human experience.   Machen writes,

"the modern liberal does not hold fast even to the authority of Jesus. Certainly he does not accept the words of Jesus as they are recorded in the Gospels. For among the recorded words of Jesus are to be found just those things which are the most abhorrent to the modern liberal church, and in his recorded words Jesus also points forward to the fuller revelation which was afterwards to be given through His apostles. Evidently, therefore, those words of Jesus which are to be regarded as authoritative by modern liberalism must first be selected from the mass of the recorded words by a critical process. The critical process is certainly very difficult, and the suspicion often arises that the critic is retaining as genuine words of the historical Jesus only those words which conform to his own preconceived ideas."

Machen concludes,

"It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible.  It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men."

The Separateness of the Church by J. Gresham Machen.   Sep/Oct 2012 Theology Matters, p. 12.  The church is called to be salt and light in the world and that will never be an easy calling. Machen observes, "If the sharp distinction is ever broken down between the Church and the world, then the power of the church is gone." 

This pressure to compromise with the culture is the most serious threat to the church's calling and it comes from within the church.  Machen writes,  

"The really serious attack upon Christianity has not been the attack carried on by fire and sword, by the threat of bonds or death, but it has been the more subtle attack that has been masked by friendly words; it has been not the attack from without but the attack from within. The enemy has done his deadliest work when he has come with words of love and compromise and peace."

 

 

Fight the Good Fight of Faith by J. Gresham Machen. This final sermon to the students at Princeton Theology Seminary in 1929 was a call to the students to stand firm and preach the Gospel against the tide of modernism which was undermining the authority of Scripture.  Sep/Oct 2011 Theology Matters, p. 13