Thursday, June 2, 2011

Christianity and Liberalism: Chapter 1, Introduction

I'm following along with Tim Challies' Reading Classics Together. We are reading J. Gresham Machen's oft quoted book Christianity and Liberalism. I've been wanting to read this book for some time. Challies' read-a-long is just the excuse I needed.

Light may seem at times to be an impertinent intruder, but it is always beneficial in the end. The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from "controversial" matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.
~ J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 1-2

While we as Christians shouldn't look to start fights, we must realize that our faith is worth fighting for. Not fighting in the take-up-our-swords-and-hack-our-enemies-to-pieces sense of fighting, but in the sense that the Christian faith (Biblical Christianity) is worth standing for, (literally) dying for, defending, and disputing over. Christians are to be marked by peace, but there can be no real peace if Christians role over and abandon the essential doctrines that make Christianity unique.

Machen's concern in his book is the compromise between Liberal Christianity and scientific naturalism. Liberal Christianity has abandoned Biblical truth in the name of peace with science. In very blunt terms, Machen says that Liberal Christianity isn't Biblical Christianity at all because it has jettisoned the essential core of Biblical Christianity in an effort to reconcile faith and science. Machen writes:
...the liberal attempt at reconciling Christianity with modern science has really relinquished everything distinctive of Christianity, so that what remains is in essentials only that some indefinite type of religious aspiration which was in the world before Christianity come upon the scene. In trying to remove from Christianity everything that could possibly be objected to in the name of science, in trying to bribe off the enemy by those concessions which the enemy most desires, the apologist has really abandoned what he started out to defend. Here as in many other departments of life it appears that the things that are sometimes thought to be hardest to defend are also the things most worth defending. ~p. 6

Biblical Christianity cannot be abandoned. We must remain faithful to the Truth of God's Word.