Join us for Sunday Service at 9:00 am
Seeking to know Christ and to make Him known

Christianity and Liberalism

Logo_PastorTeddBlog2Back in 1923, J. Gresham Machen wrote a little book, ‘Christianity and Liberalism.’ I won’t take the time to give you all the details surrounding the impetus for writing it, but Machen was contending for what he believed to be the faith delivered once for all to the saints (Jude 3). Below are a few excerpts which help me understand what, I believe, is worth contending for.

(Italics added for emphasis)

The modern liberal preacher reverences Jesus; he has the name of Jesus forever on his lips; he speaks of Jesus as the supreme revelation of God; he enters, or tries to enter, into the religious life of Jesus. But he does not stand in a religious relation to Jesus. Jesus for him is an example for faith, not the object of faith. The modern liberal tries to have faith in God like the faith which he supposes Jesus had in God; but he does not have faith in Jesus (85).

Yet in the Gospels Jesus is represented constantly as dealing with the problem of sin. He always assumes other men are sinful; yet He never finds sin in Himself. A stupendous difference is found between Jesus’ experience and ours. That difference prevents the religious experiences of Jesus from serving as the sole basis of the Christian life. For clearly, if Christianity is anything it is a way of getting rid of sin.

Why then did the early Christians call themselves disciples of Jesus, why did they connect themselves with His name? … They connected themselves with His name not because He was their example in ridding themselves of sin, but because their method of ridding themselves of sin was by means of Him. It was what Jesus did for them, and not primarily the example of His own life, which made them Christians (89, 90, 91).

Liberalism regards Him as an Example and Guide; Christianity, as a Savior; liberalism makes Him an example for faith; Christianity, the object of faith… (T)he essential thing can be put almost in a word – liberalism regards Jesus as the fairest flower of humanity; Christianity regards Him as a supernatural person (96).

{Because of Christ’s utter uniqueness, faith in Him means all other means and salvations are resolutely rejected.}The early Christian missionaries demanded an absolutely exclusive devotion to Christ… Many saviours were offered by many religions (and) various pagan religions could live together in perfect harmony; when a man became a devotee of one god, he did not have to give up the others. But Christianity would have nothing to do with these ‘polygamies of the soul;’ it demanded exclusive devotion; all other Saviours, it insisted, must be deserted for the one Lord.

Salvation, in other words, was not merely through Christ, but it was only through Christ. In that little word ‘only’ lay all the offence. Without that word there would have been no persecutions; the cultured men of the day would probably have been willing to give a Jesus a place, and an honorable place, among the saviours of mankind. Without its exclusiveness, the Christian message would have seemed perfectly inoffensive to the men of that day. So modern liberalism, placing Jesus alongside other benefactors of mankind, is perfectly inoffensive in the modern world. {As only anexample, all men will speak well of Him and Christianity.} But it is also entirely futile. The offense of the Cross is done away but so is its glory and power (123,124).


Add a Comment