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Christianity and Liberalism

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  4,098 ratings  ·  348 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 passages…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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Average rating 4.24  · 
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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
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
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. ...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
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.
Knowlton Murphy
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Machen’s mixture of biblical conviction, coherent arguments, and strong but accessible prose make this book a spiritually edifying and enjoyable book to read. He argues that liberalism is diametrically opposed to historic Christianity in how it regards doctrine, God and man, the Bible, Christ, salvation, and the church. I do wish he had been more specific in citing the people responsible for liberal claims—I would have loved more footnotes indicating primary source material. I believe I will be ...more
Jake Stone
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Machen’s work truly is a classic. While this work was originally published in 1923, much of it sounds like a description of the present hour. If you want to see why liberalism is not Christianity, let Machen take you on a theological tour. His chapter on salvation was absolute gold. This is definitely one of the top 10 books for me in thinking about how precise and doctrinal the Christian Faith truly is.
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
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
Lance Kinzer
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A book written 90 years ago that truly stands the test of time. Not merely a vital piece of Protestant history, but a stern warning for our own time regarding the impossibility of sustaining the Christian life in the absence of rigorous concern for orthodox Christian doctrine.
Becky Pliego
Wonderful, a brilliant defense of biblical Christianity against the Liberalism trying to gain more ground in all the areas of this world.

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
Philip Brown
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must read given its status as a classic in shaping and giving context to 20th century evangelicalism, let alone the fact that it's excellent in and of itself.
Rafael Salazar
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apologetics
Positively surprising. Machen provides a timeless and stark comparison between Christianity and the ever present threat of liberalism. His writing style betrays his training in classical literature and has the book read as a one-piece long oration. Yet, incisive and quotable lines are scattered throughout. Truly a classic and a noteworthy read for days of social unrest within and outside the church.
Adam Balshan
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humanism
3 stars [Humanism]
(W: 2.75, U: 3, T: 2.92)
Exact rating: 2.89
#12 in genre, out of 16

A critique of Liberal Theology/Humanism by a Christian spoken in 1921, and published in 1923. Striking was the fact that some of his points from 100 years ago are applicable to the situation in which the Church finds itself in June 2020. Machen's work can thus be characterized as "enduring." Theology, ecclesiology, and education were treated. The first and last chapters were of higher quality than the rest. It is
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
Jake Litwin
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Update: reread Feb. 2020.

When I first read this book, I sped read it because I was battling liberalism in my old church back in high school. After reading it again this year (2020) I have much more of an appreciation for Machen and the impact he made writing this book. He saw things in the church back in his day he knew was a slippery slope into liberalism even though many people didn’t see it coming. Unfortunately we clearly see the rotten fruit liberal theology has produced in the modern Amer
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.
Rick Davis
This is a book that deserves to be read and re-read. Even though it was written near the beginning of the 20th century, the false teaching it addresses returns perennially in different garb. It remains as revelant today as it was a hundred years ago.
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?
An Idler
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Still relevant today. Useful perspective on just how alien liberal mainstream Christianity is to the historic Biblical faith.
Daniel Henderson
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So glad that I finally read this. Super helpful and pertinent, even in 2019.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Having grown up in a liberal denomination, and never hearing the word “sin” mentioned in church, and never being pointed to Scripture, this book told the story of my childhood. There were parts of this that are five stars, and parts that are redundant. I wish that I had read this book 30 years ago, it would have been very helpful as I left the liberal world and entered the Christian one.
Mya Gray
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-school, 2019
This was good, just a little difficult to get through. :P
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 Re
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
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Christianity and Liberalism 1 5 Feb 08, 2017 06:44AM  

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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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