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 23, 2011

Notes from Chapter 4 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 fourth chapter.

The Bible

I.
According to the Christian view, the Bible contains an account of a revelation from God to man, which is found nowhere else... the Bible also contains a confirmation and a wonderful enrichment of the revelations which are given also by the things that God has made and by the conscience of man.

II. "We know that the gospel story is true... because":
  • "[T]he early date of the documents in which it appears,"
  • "[T]he evidence as to their authorship,"
  • "[T]he internal evidence of their truth,"
  • "[T]he impossibility of explaining them as being based upon deception or upon myth"
  • "[P]resent experience."

III. "What is the liberal view as to the seat of authority in religion?"

A. Many liberals claim to reject "the perverse moral teaching of the Old Testament or the sophisticated arguments of Paul," but to depend on "Jesus alone."

1. But the liberal theologian does not depend on Jesus as his authority in the sense of Jesus' teachings:
a. The "divine method" was that the "full explanation" regarding "the meaning of Jesus' work" should "be given only after the work was done;" therefore, limiting oneself to "Jesus[' words] alone" impoverishes a person's understanding concerning the way of salvation.
b. The liberal scholar does not accept all of Jesus' words recorded in the New Testament, instead he sifts through these words using a critical process (which process seems designed to make Jesus' words "conform to his own preconceived ideas"); after the critical process is complete, it is obvious that even the "'historical' Jesus as reconstructed by modern historians" must have said some things that were objectionable to liberal sensibilities, and so liberal theologians must assert that Jesus "said some things that are untrue."

2. Nor does the liberal theologian depend on Jesus in the sense of Jesus' life-purpose:
a. Jesus defined His own life-purpose in terms of ministering to others, particularly by giving His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), but since this includes the idea of "vicarious death," it is unacceptable to, and thus rejected by, the liberal theologian.
b. "The truth is that the life-purpose of Jesus discovered by modern liberalism is not the life-purpose of the real Jesus, but merely represents those elements in the teaching of Jesus-- isolated and misinterpreted-- which happen to agree with the modern program."

B. The real authority for the liberal theologian is not "Jesus alone," but "Christian experience."

1. But "Christian experience" cannot form an authority:
a. "[N]ot by a majority vote of the organized Church," for "[s]uch a method would obviously do away with all liberty of conscience."
b. Not by "individual experience," "for individual experience is endlessly diverse, and when once truth is regarded only as that which works at any particular time, it ceases to be truth" (and thus cannot be called an "authority").

2. Therefore, the liberal appeal to "Christian experience" results in "an abysmal skepticism."

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