Monday, December 6, 2010


"... 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."

So wrote J. Gresham Machen in his classic Christianity and Liberalism. I have long-intended to read this book and in the closing month of the year I have finally begun. So far, it is excellent. Machen is a concise writer; he doesn't waste words or take the long way around to get to a point. I enjoy this type of writing. Following are a few more quotes from the first chapter.

It is perfectly conceivable that the originators of the Christian movement had no right to legislate for subsequent generations. But at any rate they did have an inalienable right to legislate for all generations that should choose to bear the name of "Christian." "

What is it that forms the content of that primitive teaching? Is it a general principle of the fatherliness of God or the brotherliness of man? Is it a vague admiration for the character of Jesus such as that which prevails in the modern Church? Nothing could be further from the fact. "Christ died for our sins," said the primitive disciples, "according to the Scriptures; he was buried; he has been raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." From the beginning, the Christian gospel, as indeed the name "gospel" or "good news" implies, consisted in an account of something that had happened. And from the beginning, the meaning of the happening was set forth; and when the meaning of the happening was set forth then there was Christian doctrine. "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."

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