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.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Notes from Chapter 5 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 fifth chapter.

Christ

I. Points of difference between Christianity and liberalism:
A. Three points of difference previously examined:
1. "the view of God"
2. "the view of man"
3. "their estimate of the Book in which the [Christian] message is contained"
B. The point of difference examined in this chapter: "the Person upon whom the [Christian] message is based."

II. Paul's attitude toward Jesus:
A. Primary consideration of Paul (rather than the gospels) defended as due to scholarly consensus (both Christian and non-Christian) that "the chief of the extant epistles attributed to Paul were really written by a man of the first Christian generation," etc.
B. "Paul stood in a truly religious relation to Jesus:"
1. Though Jesus as an example was important to Paul, "the primary thing for Paul" was "the redeeming work of Jesus."
2. Jesus was, for Paul, not "merely an example for faith; He was primarily the object of faith."
C. "Paul was not the first to stand in this religious relation to Jesus:" it is evident that Paul conceived his faith in Jesus to be entirely consistent with the faith of earlier believers.
D. Within primitive Christianity there appears to have been controversy over the relationship of the Mosaic law to the Church, but there appears to be no such controversy in regards to faith in Jesus.

III. Jesus' teaching about Himself:
A. Jesus clearly presented Himself "as the object of faith."
B. Jesus in no way minimized the guilt of sin, but presented Himself as the hope of salvation from sin.

IV. The teaching of liberal theology re: Jesus:
A. "Jesus for [the liberal theologian] is an example for faith, not the object of faith."
B. "According to modern liberalism... Jesus was the founder of Christianity because He was the first Christian, and Christianity consists in maintenance of the religious life which Jesus instituted."

V. Can we follow the example of Jesus in every respect? No, because:
A. Jesus had a unique Messianic consciousness, which included the teaching that He was rightly "the judge of all the earth."
B. Jesus was sinless; He never had to deal with His own sin, He constantly dealt with the problem of sin, assuming that others were sinful.

VI. In what sense "did the early Christians call themselves disciples of Jesus"?
A. Jesus was their means of salvation from sin: "Christ died for our sins."
B. Jesus was the object of their faith.

VII. Objections:
A. Q: If Jesus was not "the first Christian" and not our example in this sense, then doesn't this undermine the humanity of Jesus? A: Jesus was truly, fully human, yet without sin; He had a religion, yet "[t]he religion of Jesus was a religion of untroubled sonship," in some ways indicative of how our religious experience will be in heaven.
B. Q: Don't the above objections to liberal theology undermine the truth that Jesus is our brother and example? A: No, because:
1. Relationships may be complementary; dissimilarity in some respects may actually strengthen a relationship [Machen gives the example of a father and a son];
2. Jesus is indeed our example in:
a. Ethics, through His compassionate actions toward others;
b. Worship, through constant consciousness of God's presence.

VIII. "[L]iberalism regards Jesus as the fairest flower of humanity; Christianity regard Him as a supernatural Person."
A. The apostle Paul clearly "separated Jesus from the rest of humanity and placed Him on the side of God.:
1. Galatians 1:1 as one example.
2. The true humanity of Jesus is spoken of as "something strange, something wonderful" in light of His divinity.
3. The question of Romans 9:5.
4. The use of the title "Lord" as used in the LXX to translate the name of God from the Hebrew.
5. Paul speaks of Jesus as the object of faith.
6. In this regard, Paul was is presented as in agreement with the original apostles (and even the Judaizers!).
B. "The Gospels agree with Paul in presenting Jesus as a supernatural Person."
1. [Machen engages in a discussion of the definition of "supernatural," a distinction of the Christian view of the supernatural from deism and pantheism, the necessity of the supernatural in overcoming the problem of sin, and the fact that miracles belong "to the very warp and woof" of the New Testament account of Jesus.]
2. "The modern liberals... say that Jesus is God not because they think high of Jesus, but because they think deperately low of God."

IX. What do Christians mean when we say "Jesus is God"?
A. NOT Arianism: Jesus is no "super-angelic Being, like God but not God."
B. Jesus is "the object of faith:" "the Christian man reposes confidence in Jesus in a way that would be out of place in the case of any other than God."

X. "[T]he New Testament everywhere presents One who was both God and man."

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