J. Gresham Machen & Fundamentalism

Tonight I was moved to read a short online biography on the great 20th conservative leader J. Gresham Machen.  When the church was under the attack and influence of Modernism and Liberalism Machen was one who stood against the tide, this lead to him being called a Fundamentalist, but he was not.  According to an online biography posted on the Desiring God[1] website Machen rejected Fundamentalism for the following reasons:

  1. the absence of historical perspective;
  2. the lack of appreciation of scholarship;
  3. the substitution of brief, skeletal creeds for the historic confessions;
  4. the lack of concern with precise formulation of Christian doctrine;
  5. the pietistic, perfectionist tendencies (for example, hang ups with smoking,20 etc.);
  6. one-sided other-worldliness (that is, a lack of effort to transform culture); and
  7. a penchant for futuristic chiliasm (or: pre-millenialism).

It was very affirming to read the above list given by Dr. Piper.  I also reject Fundamentalism for all of the exact same reasons, and also agree with Machen when he wrote, “I have little time to be attacking my brethren who stand with me in defense of the Word of God.”  His work “Christianity and Liberalism” can be downloaded in audio form from ReformedAudio.com

On the importance of ideas:

“False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation to be controlled by ideas […] which prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.”

“The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations but also all of human thought.”

His last recorded words:

“I’m so thankful for [the] active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.”


[1] J. Gresham Machen’s Response to Modernism

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