Christianity and Liberalism

Dr. J. Gresham Machen
Dr. J. Gresham Machen

Liberalism, in the sense of the liberal movement in the Christian church in the 1800s, which still continues today as can be seen herehere, and in the emergent movement, is a poison in the visible Christian church. I say the visible church, as there comes a point where liberals deny Christ, deny the Trinity, the resurrection, the virgin birth of Christ, the deity of Christ, deny penal substitutionary atonement, or deny something else that invalidates the Gospel in the minds of those who believe it, and as such can no longer be considered to be Christian at all.

It is a sickness, a cancer, that spreads, among some that would lead them to turn away from the truth about God’s word, denying its inerrancy, and eventually denying its power and truth. It is unfortunately, also fueled somewhat by the public school system.

In the early 1900s, John Gresham Machen, combated what was then modern liberalism, with his book “Christianity and Liberalism.” One of his points in that amazing book, which I will link to a free copy of at the bottom of this post, was that Liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. Instead, it is a new religion that seeks to corrupt the Christian church.

While Machen didn’t put an end to it, he dealt a significant blow to it for quite some time. I think the two world wars, and the bloodiest century of all time, may have played a role in curbing it as well. It seems that liberalism isn’t compatible with the real world, or how broken and fallen the real world is. Unfortunately, in our time of mostly peace in the United States, at least as far as the average citizen observes, the cancer began to grow back, and we have the post modern emergents. It is nothing new, different faces for the same old heresies. Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Greg Boyd being among the leaders of the new post-modern liberals emergents.

What they all have in common starts with a denial of the truth of Scripture. It starts with denying things that “no one can really know for sure,” and “things that don’t really matter all that much,” and moves on to denying the deity of Christ, the reality of hell, and Jesus being the only way to God.

Like all heresies, they are defeated by generations that came before us, but they grow back with slight mutations and must be defeated again by another generation of Christians.

Thankfully, history, and God’s providence are on our side.

That book, Christianity and Liberalism, is as powerful and relevant today as it was in 1923 when it was first published. The book is no longer under copyright as the copyright has expired. So, please feel free to download a free copy today, and to distribute it as much as you are able to. Please, for your own benefit, and the benefit of the Christian church as a whole, read it. (epub | pdf)

To read the book, I suggest Aldiko, MoonReader, or Nook for Android. Calibre works for Windows. I know there are apps for iOS, but sadly, I don’t know which to recommend, maybe Nook app for it as well?

I originally posted this on my Xanga last year. Initially I wrote this as a response to the two posts linked to at the beginning. Today I was considering removing the links, but as they serve as an example of modern liberalism, I have decided to leave them in. I haven’t had dialog with the two men since that time and I don’t know where they stand today. If you feel lead, prayer for them is appreciated.

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