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Christianity and Liberalism

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  4,744 ratings  ·  469 reviews
Machen's classic defense of orthodox Christianity 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. Though originally published nearly seventy years ago, the book maintains its relevance today. ...more
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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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. ...more
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.
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
David Steele
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Second time through this wonderful work!
Jeremy Mueller
May 15, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read this in my undergrad at Baylor when I was taking classes in the religion department! Machen helpfully characterizes theological liberalism as a different religion than Christianity because it espouses beliefs that threaten the gospel (I.e. denial of the inspiration of the Scriptures, denial of the necessity of penal substitution for our atonement, denial of a biblical understanding of sin, and so much more). Though his language is sharp and strong, he clearly shows how the theo ...more
Kyle Grindberg
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Machen eloquently, surgically, and decisively divides the malignant tumor of "Liberal Christianity" from the host, Biblical Christianity. It was an excellent read. I was struck at so many points during my read how relevant the book still is today.

Read again in May of 2022 for my old Princeton elective with Paul Helseth, still great, and I got more out of it this time than I did my first time through.
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
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
Mark Jr.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2016
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.
Rick Davis
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apologetics
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.
Becky Pliego
Wonderful, a brilliant defense of biblical Christianity against the Liberalism trying to gain more ground in all the areas of this world.

Grant Van Brimmer
Principally, this book is a must-read for all Christians. His arguments can still be applied today to the church's current compromises with wokism and the sexual/gender revolution. ...more
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
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. ...more
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.
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. ...more
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? ...more
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Is anyone writing this powerfully and persuasively (at the same time) today?
Daniel Henderson
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So glad that I finally read this. Super helpful and pertinent, even in 2019.
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
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. ...more
Jared Willett
Jun 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
A concise classic! Machen defends that the liberalism of the late 19th and early 20th century was not Christianity but a completely different religion. Machen focuses on major doctrines such as justification and Christology to show this fact. The answer liberal preachers give to the question "What must I do to be saved?" is a paltry excuse for a gospel message. "Just do better and be a good person." This is not the gospel of the bible.

Far from being dated, this book is prophetic in so many ways
Jun 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Machen understands rightly that Liberal ideology is a rival religion. He unpacks the reigning religion in our day of the brotherhood of man without reference to God. He also rightly sees that our battle is all about language. Liberals misuse and abuse language to get their way and then when they have control, they dismiss all dissenting positions.

Machen shows how Liberal man is ultimately trying to save himself apart from the gospel. But there is no materialistic solution to our spiritual issue
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

A critique of Liberal Theology/Humanism, 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 more useful as a source of excellent q
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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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