Theme | June 2023

Christianity and Liberalism Revisited

A 100 Year Appreciation

What do churches that affirm the LGBTQ lifestyle, celebrate God as mother, and host drag queen performances have in common? They are not remotely Christian. While they may identify as “liberal” or “progressive” Christians, they are so far from the core of Christianity that they are altogether a “different religion.” This conclusion is the key insight of J. Gresham Machen in Christianity and Liberalism, a book that celebrates its one hundredth anniversary this year in 2023. While the presenting issues looked different a century ago, the core was the same: Liberal Christianity proclaims a toxic view of doctrine, God, man, the Bible, Christ, Salvation, and the Church. Our Lord reminded us that “the tree is known by its fruit” (Matt. 12:33). This month, we aim to retrieve Machen’s chapter-by-chapter insights to equip a new generation of Christians to discern truth from error.

Table of Contents

Lessons to Learn from Christianity and Liberalism a Century Later

By Stephen Wellum • Concise Article • June 2
Few books make more than a passing squeak in the orchestra of Christian history. And some books are so compelling that their deep sound resonates even 100 years later.

2.26 D. G. Hart • Reading • “The Rise and Fall of J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism

By D. G. Hart • Podcast Reading • June 5
Calling conservative voices "misinformation" or banning them outright has been happening for over 100 years. But as Machen's case shows, locking down debate means the decline of a seminary—and denomination.

The Rise and Fall of J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism

By D. G. Hart • Longform Essay • June 5
Calling conservative voices "misinformation" or banning them outright has been happening for over 100 years. But as Machen's case shows, locking down debate means the decline of a seminary—and denomination.

Machen on the Necessity of Christian Doctrine: An Explanation of Christianity and Liberalism Chapter 2 (Part 1)

By Fred G. Zaspel • Concise Article • June 7
Christianity has always been rooted in both history and doctrine, and without these roots, it becomes something altogether different.

Machen on the Necessity of Christian Doctrine: An Application of Christianity and Liberalism Chapter 2 (Part 2)

By Fred G. Zaspel • Concise Article • June 9
Is it possible to have Jesus without doctrine? And how is doctrine related to the Christian life?

2.27 D. G. Hart, David Schrock, Brad Green • Interview • “The Rise and Fall of J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism

By David Schrock, Stephen Wellum, Ardel Caneday, Trent Hunter • Podcast Interview • May 29
Calling conservative voices "misinformation" or banning them outright has been happening for over 100 years. But as Machen's case shows, locking down debate means the decline of a seminary—and denomination.

John Gresham Machen, Defender of the Faith

By Michael A. G. Haykin • Longform Essay • June 12
Machen knew that emptying Christianity of its historical claims would leave only a lifeless shell behind. True spiritual life is not opposed to history, but is produced by a God who acts in history.

The Religion of the Broken Heart: An Explanation of Christianity and Liberalism Chapter 3 “God and Man” (Part 1)

By Paul Kjoss Helseth • Concise Article • June 14
Where does true piety come from? Not from a religious experience, but from God, in his word, revealing both our great sin and his glorious grace.

The Religion of the Broken Heart: Brief Reflections on the Contemporary Relevance of Christianity and Liberalism Chapter 3 “God and Man” (Part 2)

By Paul Kjoss Helseth • Concise Article • June 16
How is Chapter 3 of Machen's Christianity and Liberalism relevant today? In at least three ways.

2.28 Michael A. G. Haykin • Reading • “John Gresham Machen, Defender of the Faith”

By Michael A. G. Haykin • Podcast Reading • June 19
Machen knew that emptying Christianity of its historical claims would leave only a lifeless shell behind. True spiritual life is not opposed to history, but is produced by a God who acts in history.

Machen on the Bible: Reflections on Christianity and Liberalism Chapter 4 “The Bible” (Part 1)

By Robert W. Yarbrough • Concise Article • June 19
Can a person receive the Bible as mostly true, but not true in every respect, as older German liberals alleged? Read Machen's 100-year old "nein!"

Machen on the Bible: Reflections on Christianity and Liberalism Chapter 4 “The Bible” (Part 2)

By Robert W. Yarbrough • Concise Article • June 20
When anti-gospel ideologies threatened to erode the church, Machen stood on the firm foundation of Scripture. May the Lord grant us grace to do the same.

No Mere Exemplar: Christ as the Object of Christian Faith in Chapter 5 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 1)

By Kyle D. Claunch • Concise Article • June 22
Who is Jesus? That simple question is essential to the Christian faith, and Machen knew liberal theology did not provide a right response.

Machen’s Orthodoxy and Progressive Christianity”: Reflections on Chapter 5 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 2)

By Kyle D. Claunch • Concise Article • June 23
Just as Machen fought the wolves of liberalism in the 20th century, so the church must fend off those who espouse "progressive" Christianity today through religious pluralism, feminism, and expressive individualism.

2.29 Michael A. G. Haykin, David Schrock, Stephen Wellum • Interview • “John Gresham Machen, Defender of the Faith”

By Michael A. G. Haykin, David Schrock, Stephen Wellum • Podcast Interview • June 26
Machen knew that emptying Christianity of its historical claims would leave only a lifeless shell behind. True spiritual life is not opposed to history, but is produced by a God who acts in history. Listen in to this conversation on the life of one of the most able defenders of the faith in the 20th century.

Machen on Missions: Missionaries of the Cross or Missionaries of Liberalism?

By Ryan Currie • Concise Article • June 26
What happens when liberalism meets missions? Doctrinal ambiguity and social work take the lead, and the gospel eventually gets left behind.

Salvation by God at the Cross of Christ: A Reflection on Chapter 6 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 1)

By K. J. Drake • Concise Article • June 27
What happens when sin is redefined as a social issue instead of rebellion against a holy God? A new gospel is created to solve this new problem, and the cross of Christ is emptied of its power.

Salvation by God at the Cross of Christ: A Reflection on Chapter 6 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 2)

By K. J. Drake • Concise Article • June 28
While the theological liberalism of Machen's day may no longer threaten the church, the danger of accommodating Christianity to the culture continually persists.

Machen on the Church: A Reflection on Ch. 7 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 1)

By Gregg Allison • Concise Article • June 29
What is the church? It's not simply another social institution, but a gospel-proclaiming society of redeemed sinners.

Christianity and Liberalism Turns 100: A Summary

By P. Andrew Sandlin • Concise Article • June 30
A century has not relaxed the battle-lines of a robust, orthodox, confrontational biblical Faith on the one hand and all accommodationist revisions on the other. The lesson of Machen is the lesson for Christianity in every era: You cannot preserve a position without crusading for it.

Why Machen is Important for the Church Today:A Reflection on Ch. 7 of Christianity and Liberalism (Part 2)

By Gregg Allison • Concise Article • June 30
If J. Gresham Machen was a church consultant in the year 2023, what would he counsel churches that feel the gravitational pull towards theological liberalism?

June Intermission: From J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity & Liberalism to Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement

By David Schrock • Concise Article • July 1
We move from J. Gresham Machen and the 1920s to Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s as we discern the rights and the wrongs of the civil right era.