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Christianity and Liberalism

, 2009
ISBN: 9780802864994

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J. Gresham Machen is considered the last in the lineage of the Great Princeton Theologians, following in the steps of Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and B. B. Warfield. Machen taught at Princeton Seminary for almost 15 years and established himself as a well respected New Testament scholar. After a dispute that divided faculty members over an emerging modernist theology, Machen left Princeton and became one of the principal founders of Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught until his death.

This classic defense of orthodox Christianity, written to counter the liberalism that arose in the early 1900s, 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. J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism has remained relevant through the years ever since its original publication in 1923. It was named one of the top 100 books of the millennium by World magazine and one of the top 100 books of the twentieth century by Christianity Today.

Resource Experts
  • Argues that the only consistent way to oppose sentimentalism in religion is to maintain the truth of Christianity as an historical religion
  • Illustrates a commitment to a high doctrine of inspiration
  • Examines the crucial differences between Christianity and “liberalism”
  • Introduction
  • Doctrine
  • God and Man
  • The Bible
  • Christ
  • Salvation
  • The Church

Top Highlights

“‘Christ died’—that is history; ‘Christ died for our sins’—that is doctrine. Without these two elements, joined in an absolutely indissoluble union, there is no Christianity.” (Page 23)

“But if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words it was based upon doctrine.” (Page 18)

“According to the Christian conception, a creed is not a mere expression of Christian experience, but on the contrary it is a setting forth of those facts upon which experience is based.” (Page 17)

“Here is found the most fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity—liberalism is altogether in the imperative mood, while Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative; liberalism appeals to man’s will, while Christianity announces, first, a gracious act of God.” (Page 39)

“Modern liberalism may be criticized (1) on the ground that it is un-Christian and (2) on the ground that it is unscientific.” (Page 6)

This 180-page book is, in my opinion, one of the most significant theological studies ever written. It gives a clear overview of major biblical doctrines and shows the vital differences with Protestant liberal theology at every point, differences that still confront us today. It is required reading in all my introductory theology classes.

—Wayne Grudem, Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary

It is my conviction that Machen’s book can still speak today. . . . Even for those who do not agree with his central thesis, Christianity and Liberalism can still be understood as representing one of the literary artifacts of a generation that had come to see liberalism as leading inexorably to a sentimentalized religion that had nothing to do with the God of the Bible or, indeed, with real life.

—Carl R. Trueman (from the foreword), Westminster Theological Seminary

Christianity and Liberalism deserves a place on every thinking Christian’s shelf.

—Trevin Wax, managing editor, The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, author, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope

Frankly, it’s amazing to me how applicable this book is today. When we read a book about contentment or a book about putting sin to death, I expect it to remain applicable from generation to generation. But I am pleasantly surprised to find that this book, one written to battle theological error in a particular context, is equally applicable today.

—Tim Challies, blogger, author, www.discerningreader.com, Ontario, Canada

John Gresham Machen

John Gresham Machen (July 28, 1881–January 1, 1937) was an American Presbyterian theologian in the early twentieth 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 Theological Seminary as a more orthodox alternative.


3 ratings

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  1. Aaron Sauer

    Aaron Sauer


  2. Chip



    One of the best discourses comparing biblically rooted Christianity to pseudo-Christian liberalism that I have ever read. I believe it to be more relevant today than when it was first published in 1923, as many of the fallacies, and consequences, of modern liberalism are now readily apparent today. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the distinction between genuine Christianity and many modern religious belief systems.
  3. michael strand


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