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Machen is best known as a capable apologist for Christianorthodoxy, especially through the publication of his masterful Christianity and Liberalism. That he is recognized as a significant figure is shown by one of his sermons being included in the publication American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King Jr.
A major question facing Machen, and which still faces Christians today, is whether or not Biblical authority can be maintained in the face of modern historical scholarship. Machen knew the critical views firsthand, and often felt the appeal of liberal positions, so his answers are the product of hard fought battles. Machen arrived at his conclusions using a rigorous methodology and honesty.
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Christian Focus
Publication Date: 2001
|Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 X 0.55 (inches)|
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J. Gresham Machen is one of the pivotal figures of modern theological thought. He was involved in many major theological battles, holding the line until he had to leave his seminary and denomination, but at no time being a close-minded obscurantist.
As David Calhoun says in his foreword 'with his rigorous methodology and his complete honesty, Machen in no way contributed to "the scandal of the evangelical mind". Machen was a thinker and a first rate theologian - but he carried his conclusions further than most would dare.
Previous biographies of Machen have tended to emphasise the disputes he was involved in and ignore his early intellectual development that led him to take the positions he did. Previous biographical attempts have tended to stereotype him as a fundamentalist (an identification which he himself generally rejected) and therefore fail to seriously consider Machen in his own terms and in the context of the broader intellectual currents of his day.
Second, Chrisope's representation of Machen will encourage Christians to think deeply concerning the claims of orthodox, supernatural Christianity. Because we do not live in a closed universe, the saving truth of Christ cannot be comprehended through convincing truths based on historical findings alone. Chrisope notes,
[Machen} believed that there is a subjective element in human knowledge; that philosophical presuppositions may influence one's evaluation of historical evidence; that the evidence in itself is not necessarily convincing; and that the human mind is incapable of attaining to truth (in the sense of recognising the truthfulness of Christianity) or of exercising faith by its on power, but that for these ends the operation of the holy spirit is necessary. (189)
Presuppositions are changed through the work of the Holy Spirit in changing deeply held perceptions. In our day, when evangelistic success is measured by an acquiescent prayer at the end of a prescribed gospel presentation, we would do ell to remember that conversion is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual.
Third, Chrisope's study of Machen reminds those seeking to enter the ministry of the need for intellectual integrity. While Machen would debate and tolerate academics who rejected orthodox Christianity, Chrisope notes that
he manifested a distinct unwillingness to consider other liberal churchmen as anything other than dishonest traitors who were denying the faith they professed. (131)
Certainly those who use the terminology and expressions of orthodox Christianity merely to gain religious employment are little more than base hirelings. Machen sought ordination only after his intellectual struggles were resolved in his own mind.
Last we are reminded that truth matters, and neither the attainment of truth nor its defense are without high personal costs. Machen underwent intense personal struggles in his seeking after truth. Once he was convinced of the truth of supernatural Christianity, he could not remain silent while fellow churchmen were undermining orthodoxy. Consequently, he endured intense ecclesiastical struggles in opposing heterodoxy. Twenty first century Baptists will do well to follow the example of this twentieth century Presbyterian defender of the faith.
... Chrisope has done us all a great service, and we must be grateful for his sympathetic and detailed treatment of a man and a period which remain in so many ways paradigmatic for students and scholars today.
"In the last decade J. Gresham Machen has attracted the attention, and gained the appreciation, of even some Roman Catholic and main-line Protestant writers. Terry Chrisope's excellent study of Machen as a New Testament scholar adds another dimension to the understanding of this conservative theologian of the early 20th century who yet speaks into the post-modern culture of the 21st century. Machen upheld principles that still serve well the Christian faith more than two generations after his death in 1937."
"To follow Terry Chrisope as he follows Machen is not only a valuable exercise in historical study but a strengthening of one's faith in God's Word... Dr. Chrisope skilfully weaves in much valuable information about Machen and his times."
john5 Stars Out Of 5July 26, 2001johnThis is my History professor at Missouri Baptist College. An insightful look into Machen's intellectual struggle.
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