Monthly Archives: September 2011

  • Christianity and Liberalism, part 8

    Christianity and Liberalism comes to a close with a chapter on “The Church.” In a book that is so doctrinally robust—dealing with topics concerning God and Man, the Bible, Christ, and salvation—contemporary Christians might be a bit surprised to find an entire chapter devoted to the church. But Machen was reformed and therefore the church is very, very important. He refers to it as the “most important” social institution (p. 133). Channeling Cyprian and Calvin before him, Machen says, “[W]hen, according to Christian belief, lost souls are saved, the saved ones become united in the Christian Church” (p. 133). A bit later he is even more frank, “…true Christians must everywhere be united to the brotherhood of the Christian church” (p. 133).

    I must confess something. I laughed a little out loud when I read those last two quotes. I wasn’t … Read More »

  • The Sacraments, part 1

    In the September 25 morning worship we will witness the baptism of a covenant child and of one who comes to profess faith in Jesus; and when we gather in the evening together we will take our place around the table of the Lord to share in his body and blood. These two practices of the church—baptism and the Lord’s Supper—are sometimes called by various names, but historically the church has referred to these good gifts as sacraments. Derived from the Latin sacramentum, the word sacrament originally related to oaths assumed in the Roman culture, whether by those in the court or by those in the military. Early Christian writers however came to use the word as an equivalent to the Greek word mysterion, usually translated in contemporary English Bibles by the Word, mystery (Horton, The Christian Faith, 764). Our confession … Read More »

  • Christianity and Liberalism, part 7

    Though Machen has been progressing in this direction all along and though we have been anticipating this conclusion, the implications of chapter six, Salvation, are nonetheless staggering. As the title suggests the content of this chapter concerns the differences between Christianity’s understanding of salvation with that of liberalism. All along Machen has been suggesting that Christianity and liberalism are distinct and are actually different religions altogether. Therefore, because of the fundamental differences and presuppositions between the two their respective understandings of salvation are likewise antithetical.

    It is not surprising then that it differs from Christianity in its account of the gospel itself; it is not surprising that it presents an entirely different account of the way of salvation. Liberalism finds salvation (so far as it is willing to speak at all of “salvation”) in man; Christianity finds it is an … Read More »

  • Christianity and Liberalism, part 6

    Machen continues his dismantling of liberalism. Thus far he has exposed the radical differences from one another by examining the fundamental different presuppositions each religion shares (remember, Machen’s point is that liberalism is a different religion altogether). At nearly every foundational level liberalism has departed from the historic orthodox faith. Theirs is a different view when it comes to God, man and the Bible. It’s in this same vein that the author tells us the differences between the two when it comes to the central figure of Christianity, Jesus Christ. In his own words, “And in their attitude toward Jesus, liberalism and Christianity are sharply opposed” (p. 69).

    Jesus “offered, not primarily guidance, but salvation; He presented Himself as the object of men’s faith”.J Gresham Machen

    How so? In a number of ways as the length of this chapter demonstrates. Machen’s main … Read More »