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Christianity and Liberalism

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,770 ratings  ·  282 reviews
Machen's classic defense of orthodox Christianity establishes the importance of scripural doctrine and contrasts the teachings of liberalism and orthodoxy on God and man, the Bbible, Christ, salvation, and the church. Though originally published nearly seventy years ago, the book maintains its relevance today.
Paperback, 189 pages
Published August 7th 1946 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published November 30th 1922)
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Mark Dunn I found the book somewhat difficult to read because of older style of writing not because of the content. margin notes and underlining of key…moreI found the book somewhat difficult to read because of older style of writing not because of the content. margin notes and underlining of key passages. About half way through the book ,I found it a little easier to take. I guess one can get use to anything.(less)

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4.21  · 
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 ·  3,770 ratings  ·  282 reviews

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Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
I read this because of Tim Challies's "Reading the Classics Together" program. One of the biggest takeaways is Machen's insistence that liberalism is not simply a different version of orthodox Christianity—it isn't Christianity. Read some quotes here, here, and here.
Adam Calvert
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
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
Jacob Aitken
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good for its time. Rightly shows liberalism to be a false religion. I am not entirely sure of how useful it can be for today's battle, aside from broad outlines. New Testament studies (and the countering unbelief) have moved on.


My above review was completely wrong. Given that major Reformed denominations are glibly going towards liberalism under the name of "Social Justice," Machen is more relevant than ever.
David Westerfield
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another contender for my book of the year. I feel every Christian would benefit from reading this book. For actual Christians, this book is both a great resource - providing clear examples of how liberalism has infiltrated many churches and Christian doctrines through corrupting the definitions of the very terms themselves (e.g., “deity,” “resurrection,” etc.) - and a great warning to avoid letting liberalism have even a foothold in your beliefs. For liberal Christians, this book would probably ...more
Mark Jr.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, kindle
I apologize to the internet for not giving this classic five stars, but it simply didn't quite reach the level of incisiveness and helpfulness for me in my situation that Packer's analysis in "Fundamentalism" and the Word of God reached. It was, nonetheless, excellent. It was sad to see that we are facing some of the very same issues today, and in exactly the same way, that he faced in the early 20th century. This could have been written yesterday:

Religion, it is said, is so entirely separate fr
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A cogent and witty defense of orthodoxy. The situation that Machen describes seems to have changed little in its essential dynamics. That fact and the book’s clear, learned expression make Christianity and Liberalism well worth reading 90+ years after it’s publication. Just remember that Machen’s main aim is to differentiate Christianity from theological liberalism, so the way he covers the subject of each chapter unfolds to serve that end. Many would do well to heed the book’s final pages about ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Stunningly relevant, though written almost 100 years ago, Machen boldly and compassionately addresses the difference between Christianity and Liberalism. I appreciated how Christ-centered he is in his arguments, making a case that it all comes down to whether or not one believes in and celebrates the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. The chapter on "Salvation" towards the end is stellar. So grateful.
Tom F
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Matthew Dean
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best defenses of the Christian faith I've ever read. It will definitely make you think, by honest and straightforward terminology, about what it means to be a Christian, especially in this modern world. Are you a Christian by culture or by conviction?
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Is anyone writing this powerfully and persuasively (at the same time) today?
Mya Gray
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, read-for-school
This was good, just a little difficult to get through. :P
Daniel Henderson
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So glad that I finally read this. Super helpful and pertinent, even in 2019.
Ben Perley
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A concise exploration of Liberalism as it stands in comparison to (and competition with) fundamentalist Christianity. Still as relevant today as when it was written in 1923, Machen’s treatise cleanly splits apart the liberalist viewpoint, exposing it as a religion entirely separate from and antithetical to Christianity itself.

Nate Hansen of Air War Audiobooks has a wonderful recording of this book - check it out!
Andrew Willis
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Logical and concise. Convincingly argues for a clean distinction between Christianity and liberal theology.
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essentials
”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
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A brilliantly simple defense of the historicity and necessity of Christianity, which is still remarkably applicable for our own day. I am thankful for men like Machen who fought for the truth of the Bible in the dark days of Liberalism. He kept returning to the importance of the Creator/Creature distinction as the basis for our understanding of God and man. He emphasized the need for doctrine in order to know God. He explained that Jesus was not just a mere man who was simply meant to provide a ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Sep 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
What a terribly sad book, and how even more terrible is the fact that 90 years on there are still huge numbers of Christians who hold tight to the fundamentalism that produced books like this. The blurb on the back says that "these issues remain in conflict today, testifying to the continuing relevance of this important work," and clearly this book wouldn't have been re-published if people didn't agree with that.


In this author's view, liberals are "hostile to the very foundations of the f
Justin Andrusk
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
James Smith
Dec 16, 2010 rated it liked it
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."
Jim Becker
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Really very good and to the point. Clear and concise. In total agreement with him.
Jared Smith
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prescient
Very refreshing.

Similar to Luther's commentary on the Galatians, this work also seemed to rise above the clouds of its own time to present a clear view of the cultural landscape. Also similarly, it is a transcendent work particularly applicable to our current day and age. In this way, Machen's words have shown themselves to be quite prophetic; his concerns manifested themselves and we are living in the wake of the forewarned consequences. Given what I have read about Machen's life in general, th
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
There's a lot of good in this book. If I'm right that the central premise really is, "the cross and the resurrection are historical and central to the faith," then I agree. But there are also a lot of false dichotomies and blanket condemnations without much dialogue with things opponents actually said (I still don't really know what they believed, exactly). And a bonus: a lot of weird "sinister threat of the expanding state" nonsense that makes me wonder what the real motivations are here. I tak ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is at least the third (but maybe the fourth) time I have read this, and I enjoyed it as much as ever - interesting to read it this time having just finished Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, which was written 15 years before it. Machen and Chesterton are so different in terms of personality, background, tradition and style, yet it is the similarities of the books that struck me.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Machen is still readable and relevant. His thesis is that liberalism isn’t Christianity gone wrong on some details but an entirely different religion. He demonstrates how liberalism and Christianity are diametrically opposed on six key issues.

I appreciate Machen’s clarity and his carefulness.
Anthony Locke
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Machen's book could have been written yesterday. Read this book with a friend and enjoyed his challenges to remain faithful to the Word, Gospel, and the Church. I also appreciated how he dissects liberal views and shows that their natural conclusions create a sad and faulty worldview.
Phillip Howell
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent work on what Christianity is and what it is not.
amy f creech
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so important for me. Differentiating orthodox Christianity from theological liberalism is helpful because of so much equivocation that has occurred. I probably need to read this again.
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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
“Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist.” 42 likes
“A public-school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument for tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective.’ (1923)” 25 likes
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