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Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America
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Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  78 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
In the early twentieth century, J. Gresham Machen emerged as one of America's best known Protestant intellectuals and a widely respected fundamentalist. But as an opponent of Prohibition and defender of civil liberties, Machen became an improbable ally of secular intellectuals who sought to liberate cultural and intellectual life from Protestant dominance. How could Americ ...more
Unknown Binding, 227 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Baker Books (first published 1994)
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Caleb
Oct 28, 2016 Caleb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent biography of an important figure. D.G. Hart deftly contextualizes J. Gresham Machen in the intellectual currents and cultural controversies of the early 20th century. Machen emerges as a refreshing foil to the standard political and religious tropes of the late 20th century culture wars: a brilliant fundamentalist with independent political views and intellectual integrity. While one could argue that Hart perhaps reads too much of his own contrarian perspective back into Mac ...more
Jacob Aitken
A decent biography, and my differences with Hart aside, probably one of the more readable ones. I think Hart overreads his own "spirituality of the church" into Machen. Yes, Machen probably wouldn't attend Falwell rallies, but Machen did press his faith on the floor of the United States Senate. The Two Kingdom guys have never really gotten around that.
Chris Hansen
Jan 25, 2012 Chris Hansen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
Defending the Faith is a fascinating portrayal of one of the most important figures in American Christianity during the last century--J. Gresham Machen. Machen was perhaps the last of the great confessional Presbyterian scholars at Princeton Seminary and was perhaps the central figure in the fundamentalist controversy in the early 20th century. He was a man of immense learning and intellect, whose work was greatly respected by conservatives, liberals, and secularists alike.

Machen was the most f
...more
Jennifer
May 12, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is the biography of a very important man, who very few people know of today. Machen was born into a privileged life, and established himself comfortably at Princeton, where he enjoyed living among the intelligentsia, teaching and training the country's best. This suited him well, and it was a life he loved and would not have left behind lightly. But for some people, study goes beyond the mind and settles in the heart... and this was true of Machen. This is a story of one man's growth from h ...more
BJ
Feb 06, 2008 BJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating biography of J. Gresham Machen by D.G. Hart. Hart's understanding of Machen and the surrounding religious, political, denominational, and cultural landscape is a pleasure to read.

Machen is a very complicated figure, and one of great conviction. He is a single man, a momma's boy, a brilliant scholar, a theological conservative, a political libertarian, a wealthy man, a controversial man, a conservative man, a very clear and pointed man who did not put up with "slippery" language, a w
...more
Tony
Oct 24, 2007 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hart writes from a position of sympathy with Machen (he attended Westminster Seminary) but his affection for many of Machen's position does not cloud his judgment or ability to present Machen as he was - warts and all.

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I began reading this book but I soon realized that this was not it. That is not a bad thing. I tremondously enjoyed Hart's academic style and colorful presentation of what most people would find incredibly boring information. Oftentim
...more
Andy Smith
An excellent book of information, if not as well written as one would have hoped. The introduction to Machen's life as well as the feeling of the modernist controversy of the 20s is excellent, and Hart's astute observations on Machen's odd role as enemy and friend of both moderns and fundamentalists are brilliant. However, the book is weighed down by Hart's dense writing style and poor organization at points. Still, a very worthwhile read.
Lance Kinzer
Jun 22, 2013 Lance Kinzer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely readable, careful and balanced consideration of a fascinating man who played a vital role in the modernist vs. fundamentalist debates of the 1920's and 30'. Valuable not just for what it has to say about those times, but for its cautionary note regarding the impact on conservative Protestantism when it ignores Machen's warnings about the dangers inherent in conflating the Gospel of Christ with programs for social reform.
LJ
Feb 12, 2014 LJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good biographical sketch of a man whose later life was almost tragic: He seemed to have suffered a lot of defeats in his professional work, though he managed to rack up a lot of accomplishments throughout his life. Some of the material presented here is more scintillating than others. The chapters on science and Machen's scholarly methodology were very good; the chapter on Presbyterian missions less so.
JM
Dec 15, 2013 JM rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a good overview of J. Gresham Machen's life, this is not the book for you; but if you want to get into the head of Machen and understand what drove his thinking to separate from his denomination, found a separate missions agency and seminary, and start a new denomination, then this book will satisfy that desire.
Matt Pitts
Oct 07, 2014 Matt Pitts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intellectual biography of one of the greatest Christian thinkers of the 20th century. Worth reading.
Mike Awtry
Dec 23, 2013 Mike Awtry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty interesting read of a fascinating figure (more so than I initially thought). Hart goes into a lot of the contexts and complexities of Machen and his situations.
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Darryl G. Hart (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University) directs the honors programs and faculty development at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and serves Westminster Seminary California as adjunct professor of church history. He has written or edited more than fifteen books, including Defending the Faith, a biography of J. Gresham Machen. He is coeditor of the American Reformed Biographies series.
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