Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Notes from Chapter 2 of Machen's "Christianity & Liberalism"

Tim Challies is currently leading an on-line reading group, which is discussing J. Gresham Machen's Christianity & Liberalism. Below are some notes that I've taken from the second chapter.


I. Liberalism in the Pews
A. Liberalism is now found not only in the seminaries, but in the pulpits, Sunday school "helps," and denominational newspapers.
B. Therefore, the cure for liberalism is not found in closing the seminaries, but in a greater love for Truth.

II. The Dishonesty of Liberalism in the Churches
A. Those at seminaries are often more frank than those teaching in churches.
B. Under the guise of not giving offense, liberal teachers in the churches carefully avoid speaking their whole mind.

III. "What... are the teachings of modern liberalism as over against the teachings of Christianity?"
A. Liberal theologians/preachers make a show of objecting to "doctrine" (though they really only substitute their doctrines for Christian doctrines).
B. Liberal theologians/preachers assert that "Christianity is a life, not a doctrine" (but an examination of the historical evidence left by the first generation of Christians makes it clear that Christianity is a way of life founded upon a message, or doctrine).
C. Some liberal theologians/preachers seek to distinguish Paul's religion from primitive Christianity in order to reject Paul's emphasis on doctrine (but "[t]he Pauline Epistles themselves attest a fundamental unity of principle between Paul and the original companions of Jesus, and the whole early history of the Church becomes unintelligible except on the basis of such unity").
D. Liberal theologians/preachers assert "the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man" as the core of Christianity (but Christianity is based on an entirely different message, as seen in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, a passage which explains the gospel message as focused on history and doctrine).

IV. The Teaching of the First Christian Missionaries
A. Differences from what "modern man" might expect:
1. The disciples did NOT say to themselves that "'Our Father which art in heaven' was a good way of addressing God even though the One who had taught them that prayer was dead."
2. The disciples did NOT cling "to the ethical principles of Jesus [nor cherish] the vague hope that the One who enunciated such principles had some personal existence beyond the grave."
B. "The great weapon with which the disciples of Jesus set out to conquer the world was not a mere comprehension of eternal principles; it was an historical message, an account of something that had recently happened, it was the message, 'He is risen.'"
C. Jesus Himself was not a mere sage spouting moral principles like Confucius (as the liberals seem to imagine) even according to the most critical liberal scholarship, Jesus is known to have said words such as "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

V. May we not simply follow Jesus as the disciples did, simply going after Him with no thought of doctrine or His work?
A. NO, for Jesus walked the earth over nineteen hundred years ago; we cannot literally follow Him as the disciples did, we need a "bridge" (spiritually speaking).
B. We need a post-Pentecost experience of the living Jesus; this experience comes through acceptance of the message of what He has done for us on the Cross.

VI. In attacking "doctrine," may critics not really (and properly) mean to attack theologians of the 16th and 17th centuries, returning the church to New Testament simplicity?
A. Certainly this is what many churchgoers understand when they hear an attack on "doctrine;" they are not thinking of the subtleties of liberal theologians, for they have never considered such subtleties.
B. But attacks on how the gospel was presented in the 16th and 17th centuries are often veiled attacks on the gospel itself.

VII. What the assertion that Christianity has a doctrinal basis does NOT mean:
A. "[I]f doctrine is sound, it makes no difference about life" (faith in Christ IS accompanied by "an immediate moral change").
B. "[A]ll points of doctrine are equally important" (there IS great room for difference of opinion among Christians IF the fundamental gospel truths are affirmed).

"Indifferentism about doctrine makes no heroes of the faith."



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