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Christianity and Liberalism

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  1,827 ratings  ·  152 reviews
This classic defense of orthodox Christianity, written to counter the liberalism that arose in the early 1900s, establishes the importance of scriptural doctrine and contrasts the teachings of liberalism and orthodoxy on God and man, the Bible, Christ, salvation, and the church. J.Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism has remained relevant through the years ever sin ...more
Paperback, 158 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published November 30th 1922)
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David Westerfield
Written in 1923, Machen addresses a system of theology encroaching upon the church that would bring about the sure eclipse of the very Gospel itself within the 20th century. It is important to note from the outset that this liberalism is not at all the same as modern political liberalism (though there are likely some fundamental philosophical similarities), but is rather theological liberalism. (In fact, Machen was strongly opposed to entering World War I and fought vigorously at the Congression ...more
Adam T Calvert
If you enjoy underlining or highlighting important, insightful, or otherwise noteworthy passages in books, then just forget about with this one, because the entire piece from beginning to end will be marked.

The book is simple in its organization and is laid out as follows:

I. Introduction
II. Doctrine
III. God and Man
IV. The Bible
V. Christ
VI. Salvation
VII. The Church


From the beginning of the book to the end, J. Gresham Machen, a true hero of the faith, pits the Christianity of historical orthodoxy
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Adam
”I have just read my way through this, with distaste and discomfort but with reluctant and growing admiration for Machen's mind. I have never seen a stronger case made for the argument that institutional Christianity must regard cultural liberalism an enemy of faith.” -Harold Bloom, The American Religion

Bloom’s comment on this--Machen’s best-known book--will likely resonate quite pleasantly in Reformed circles for years to come. It’s easy to see why the book is a modern touchstone for the Refo
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Mark Sylvester
Valuable analysis of modern liberal theology and its departure from the Christian faith. It struck me that, originally written in 1923, so many arguments put forth in this book are still arguments heard from liberal scholars today: primarily, the denial of all that remains fundamentally 'Christian' (the necessary substitutionary atonement of Christ, deity of Christ, salvation through Jesus alone, etc.) and yet still holding to the belief that one is a Christian. Machen shows how liberal proponen ...more
mpsiple
Is anyone writing this powerfully and persuasively (at the same time) today?
Rick Davis
Several years ago, coming fresh from the cloister of Liberty University and looking for a career in the real world, I had a surreal experience during a job interview. The boss who was interviewing me noticed that I was a religion major and asked what I thought about all the people out there who still believed that Jesus was actually God. I was a bit taken aback by this question. I knew the man’s church to be a conservative, Bible-believing church, and I personally knew the man’s pastor likewise ...more
Joseph Rizzo
I was compelled to read this book finally because of my observation that this is a battle that is fought and is being re-fought again and again.

Machen argues that liberalism is not Christianity but that it utilizes much of the Christian terminology so as to appear that it is somewhat orthodox.

The book draws the lines in the sand on the things that cannot be compromised, one by one. Machen also gives the definitions that the liberals mean when they use some of the Christian words.

First it is doc
...more
James Smith
While I demur on certain trajectories in this book, I think Machen's opening diagnosis of "liberalism" is both prescient and germane to contemporary debates. I recommend reading alongside Cardinal Newman's famous appendix to Apologia Pro Vita Sua, "On Liberalism."
Henry
Machen does an excellent job of showing that anti-supernatural liberalism deserves to be considered a different religion from Christianity, rather than a respectable variant of it, and hence that it should be viewed as destructive to souls.
Justin Andrusk
Yes, that's right I did give this book 5 stars. It was both simple to read and rich in content for the grave consequences for abandoning orthodox Christianity and that liberalism is completely different religion and is NOT Christianity.
Tom F
This is one of the most important books in modern Christianity. Machen showed the difference between Christianity and "liberal Christianity" then, and the truths in the book still hold out against the emergent church movement today.
Jeremy
I read this because of Tim Challies's "Reading the Classics Together" program. One of the biggest takeaways was Machen's insistence that liberalism was not simply a different version of orthodox Christianity—it wasn't Christianity.
Tyson Froment
Such an absolutely astonishing work with timeless poignance. He systematically uncovers the truth of liberal Christianity, or unorthodox Christianity. And the verdict is eternally condemning.
W. Littlejohn
He's got some good points, but this guy was way too much of a warrior-theologian.
Judah Ivy
They have never answered Machen.
Sarah
So, I dug into my Presby roots a little and decided that J. Gresham Machen was made of awesome.

It is fascinating to see how Machen makes his case that early 20th century theological liberalism and (proto-evangelical-coalition) traditional Christianity were essentially two different religions. But, more than that, it's amazing how prescient Machen seems; in 1923, he anticipated much of what has come to divide denominations today (which is fairly continuous with the early Fundamentalist/liberal s
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ChristaAnne
Is there a way to give this book over 5 stars?!?!
You would never know this was written in the early 1900s. I was amazed at how applicable it is to today. It laid out in a very concrete, authoritative manner the foundations upon which Christianity stands--Christ, grace, Scripture etc. It was all bullet points and bottom line--no mincing of words, but rather a get down to business type approach. Given the topic about which he was concerned, I thought his style was very appropriate. These matters a
...more
Derek Brown
J. Gresham Machen's main burden in his book, Christianity and Liberalism, is to make a clear distinction between true Christianity and what had, by that time, been termed as liberalism. It was primarily within the context of the unparalleled advances in industry, technology, and science of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that liberalism began to take form. Contrary to what some may believe today, liberalism did not begin as a bold-faced attempt to undermine Biblical Christianity; ...more
Rudolph P. Boshoff
Machen makes quite a bit of engaging the real issues at hand when confronting liberalism. Essentially he contends that a Historical Christ removed from the Christ of Faith is a mere despot. He argues that “The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from “controversial” matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life” (p. 1-2).

This could be translated to the fact that fundamental Christianity is not just exclusive Chri
...more
Philip
Aug 25, 2014 Philip rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Philip by: Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn
This book is a compelling early twentieth century defense of the validity and importance of orthodox, historic Christianity, over against the rapidly spreading liberalism of the time, and there are many applicable lessons for today.

Some central thoughts from this book: We cannot separate religion/Christianity from history and science. Chronological snobbery in opposition to the past is far too prevalent and we need to be countering it because a knowledge of and appreciation for the past is good
...more
John Gardner
Today, when most Americans consider the word "liberalism", we think of a political philosophy or party. In the late 19th and into the early 20th century, however, there was a movement within the Protestant church known as Liberalism. While this religious movement does have some commonalities with political liberalism (a basic belief in man's goodness and a strong humanitarian ethic, for instance), in their particulars they are really two very different things. It is religious Liberalism which Ma ...more
John
This is the work for which Machen is famous. It is a very clear and concise theological work refuting the rising tide of liberalism prevalent in the American church. It is strange to see a theologian so alarmed at the state of the church in the early twentieth century. It makes one ponder if the church has always been in a state of crisis, or if things have just gotten so bad that Machen could truly be so alarmed then.

In any case, Machen does a great job of dismantling liberalism--showing it is
...more
Greg Wilson
Rarely do you find a book written almost a century ago that is still relevant for today. The things I have read by J. C. Ryle (1815 – 1900) certainly are. So is this defense of orthodox Christianity by the distinguished professor of New Testament J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937). Both World magazine and Christianity Today named it one of the top 100 books of the Twentieth Century. He helped found both Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as alternatives to liberalis ...more
Zach Hedges
In this classic, Machen defends biblical Christianity with unusual sharpness and clarity against the emerging Liberalism of the early twentieth century. Certainly there is much in his work that applies directly to the challenges that evangelical Christianity faces in the present day, and the chapters of this book are categorized in an organic fashion that lends itself to an orderly and logical consideration of the issues of doctrine, biblical authority, and ecclesiology, among others.

The underly
...more
Chris Allen
Great book. Machen articulates and then deconstructs the main points of so called "Christian Liberalism" which he rightly points out is much more liberalism than Christian. It must be pointed out that as this book was published in 1922 the liberalism that Machen is combating is not cultural liberalism, but theological liberalism.

The Church then, as it is now, was being infiltrated by those who wanted to change what it means to be a Christian. Men and women who would confess the classic orthodox
...more
David Kearns
Machen's argument in Christianity and Liberalism centers on the poor reasoning that undergirds much of the modern liberal modifications of the Christian message. For a book written close to a century back, it's remarkably current. I actually feel somewhat better about the state of modern Christendom, knowing that it's been this way for a long time; our modern arguments aren't new after all. I suppose Ecclesiastes told me that, but such lessons are often illustrated best through experience.

Machen
...more
Wendy Rabe
This book by J. Gresham Machen is as timely today as when it was written in the 1920s. He makes it clear that liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all, since it totally rejects the supernatural (including the physical resurrection of Jesus) and focuses only on certain "ideals" set forth in the stories of the Bible (i.e., good conquers evil). Liberalism is shown to actually be a religion of works -- Jesus himself is seen primarily as a doer of good deeds, an example that we are to follow. ...more
Jacob Stubbs
In this work, Machen does an excellent job demonstrating his thesis, "liberalism is not Christianity." Furthermore, Machen's work is quite prescient in his understanding of liberalism and it's effects on a congregation. Apart from certain theological disagreements, including church governance and when one should schism due to theological disagreements, Machen offers a great way to view the relationship of Christianity to liberalism.

The problem comes with his methodology and solutions. Machen do
...more
Chris Armer
This book was certainly needed at it's time of publication. It is primarily an apologetic for traditional Christian doctrine in response to the rise of theological liberalism. Machen attacks liberals for using much of the same terminology as historic Christians, but believing contrary doctrines. If I had read it in the 1920's I may have rated it four or five stars. I rate it three stars because much of the argumentation is outdated. This is a classic but isn't as helpful as more modern books.
Ko Matsuo
Written in 1923, former Princeton professor of New Testament's impassioned plea to clarify why the emerging Liberalism was fundamentally a different religion than Christianity. Machen is especially critical of people who utilize the same words to have different meanings. I found this book to be especially relevant for today, where clarity of meaning is increasingly important in a world of intentional and non-intentional doublespeak.
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John Gresham Machen was an influential American Presbyterian theologian in the early 20th century. He was the Professor of New Testament at Princeton Seminary between 1915 and 1929, and led a conservative revolt against modernist theology at Princeton and formed Westminster Seminary as a more orthodox alternative. This split was irreconcilable, and Machen led others to form the Orthodox Presbyteri ...more
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