Updated: Feb 20
I’ve recently been reading J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. This work deserves it’s reputation as a lucid argument to distinguish modern liberalism from Christianity. Nor does it deserve to be thrown on the trash-heap of a bygone era. While the ecclesiastical setting has perhaps changed, many issues being discussed in evangelical churches in the U.S are directly addressed by Machen.
In any case, I was very struck by the paragraph with which Machen closes the book. Even where theological liberalism isn’t the issue of the hour, these words help to cut through the barnacles of human sin that cling to the church in this present life. They remind us what the church is underneath those barnacles. It confronts us with our need to see the church for what it is.
“Is there no refuge from strife? Is there no place of refreshing where a man can prepare for the battle of life? Is there no place where two or three can gather in Jesus’ name, to forget for the moment all those things that divide nation from nation and race from race, to forget human pride, to forget the passions of war, to forget the puzzling problems of industrial strife, and to unite in overflowing gratitude at the foot of the Cross? If there be such a place, then that is the house of God and that the gate of heaven. And from under the threshold of that house will go forth a river that will revive the weary world” (J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, first published 1923, new edition 2009, p. 152).