This blog chiefly seeks to collate materials available elsewhere on the net by or about J Gresham Machen

Thursday, 20 August 2015

PCUSA General Assemblies 1921-1936

Year Venue Moderator
132nd GA, 1920 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Samuel S. Palmer
133rd GA, 1921 Winona Lake, Indiana Henry C. Swearingen
134th GA, 1922 Des Moines, Iowa Calvin C. Hays
135th GA, 1923 Indianapolis, Indiana Charles F. Wishart
136th GA, 1924 Grand Rapids, Michigan Clarence Edward Macartney
137th GA, 1925 Columbus, Ohio Charles R. Erdman
138th GA, 1926 Baltimore, Maryland William Oxley Thompson
139th GA, 1927 San Francisco, California Elder Robert Elliott Speer
140th GA, 1928 Tulsa, Oklahoma Hugh Kelso Walker
141st GA, 1929 St. Paul, Minnesota Cleland Boyd McAfee
142nd GA, 1930 Cincinnati, Ohio Hugh Thomson Kerr
143rd GA, 1931 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Lewis Seymour Mudge
144th GA, 1932 Denver, Colorado Charles William Kerr
145th GA, 1933 Columbus, Ohio John McDowell
146th GA, 1934 Cleveland, Ohio William Chalmers Covert
147th GA, 1935 Cincinnati, Ohio Joseph Anderson Vance
148th GA, 1936 Syracuse, New York Henry Buck Master

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Iain Murray on Christianity and Liberalism

In a footnote in his essay on How Scotland lost its hold of the Bible (see here) Iain Murray says
Christianity and Liberalism (repr. 1997, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), p. 178. This has to remain one of the most important books of all times.
This refers to Machen's statement about Liberalism that is is ‘a movement which is anti-Christian to the core.’ (He also quotes Machen saying ‘There is sometimes a salutary lack of logic which prevents the whole of a man’s faith being destroyed when he has given up a part.')
Earlier in the body of the essay Murray says
In 1933, through the Presbytery of New Brunswick, J. Gresham Machen appealed to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the USA, that the personnel of their Foreign Missions Board should only contain men who held to ‘the full trustworthiness of Scripture’. To support the appeal, Machen produced a publication of 110 pages, which gave evidence of the extent to which unbelief was being tolerated and promoted on the mission field. He showed that the ‘inclusivist policy’, which was being allowed in the churches at home, was proving a disaster in China where some church leaders had come to deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. He cited the literature of liberals then being published in Chinese. In one of these books, the author spoke of how a mother was reading part of the Old Testament where the destruction of the Amalekites is commanded. The mother sought to explain the judgment to her daughter by saying ‘that revelation was progressive, and now in Jesus we were told to love our enemies and to do good to them that despitefully use us. The little girl thought for a moment and then her face lighted up and she said, “Now I understand … this back here was before God was a Christian.” (Modernism and the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, J. G. Machen (privately published, 1933), pp. 74-5.)
Despite all that Machen wrote and said, the General Assembly gave the personnel of the Board of Foreign Missions ‘whole-hearted’ support. The inclusivist policy was upheld. When Machen and others then formed an Independent Mission Board, the General Assembly ordered it to be disbanded and forbade any of its church to be members. Machen did not obey the direction, upon which, he was tried, not allowed to question the legitimacy of the Assembly’s order, found guilty, and suspended from the ministry.
The so-called inclusivist policy was in reality an anti-biblical policy. Machen had quoted teachers in China who expressed the hope that modernists and not fundamentalists would come to that mission field. The likes of Machen would not be welcome; and now he was not to be welcomed in the church which he had served all his life.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Shorter Writings

Selected shorter writings available in ebook format here

New Biography of Machen

Gresham Machen by Sean Michael Lucas

US Price $10.99
Bitesize Biography
Author Sean Michael Lucas
ISBN 9781783970575
Pages 130
Dubbed at his death "Doctor Fundamentalis," J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) was one of the most significant defenders of evangelical Christianity in the early twentieth century. Raised in American Presbyterianism, he wrestled deeply with the challenge of Protestant Modernism and provided some of the most significant responses to it, particularly his classic book Christianity and Liberalism. He pointed the way forward toward a Christianity that was both intellectually rigorous and spiritually satisfying, one that was rooted in a trustworthy Bible and in a confessional tradition which in turn produced a genuine faith in Christ. As a result, Machen continues to provide lessons today for those who desire to be valiant for truth in the midst of a hostile world.
In the battle against vital doctrinal declension in the early 20th century, Gresham Machen played a very significant role in defending classic Christian orthodoxy. But it is a role few are acquainted with since biographies of him have been scarce and hard to obtain. This new study of his life is therefore welcome indeed. Highly recommended.
Dr. Michael Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality and Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Sean Michael Lucas (Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary) is senior minister at the First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA, and associate professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, USA. He is the author of several books, including Robert Lewis Dabney: A Southern Presbyterian Life and For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Machen and the faculty

Portrait of the founding faculty of WTS - (L to R) Ned Stonehouse, O.T. Allis, John Murray (standing), J. Gresham Machen, Allan McRae (standing), Paul Woolley, Cornelius Van Til. From here. Machen, Allis and Van Til had served in Princeton (as did Murray as an instructor for one year). Also Robert Dick Wilson, missing from this picture, as is R B Kuiper.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Machen's Wars - Consolations in the midst of battle

3. Machen's wars – Consolations in the midst of battle
The final thing I would like to do is to consider a short address that Machen gave to the second batch of outgoing students from Westminster Seminary in 1931. It is of interest to us here because it is headed in published form (see Hart's Selected shorter writings) Consolations in the midst of battle. It is interesting because the battle that Machen has in mind is not World War I and, although he clearly has in mind the battle for the truth that he and others were then involved in that was still raging at the time, what has to say has relevance to every age. It is the same theme as that which he touched on in his last address to the Princeton students. Then he said
God grant that you … may be fighters, too! Probably you have your battles even now; you have to contend against sins gross or sins refined; you have to contend against the sin of slothfulness and inertia; ... against doubt and despair. Do not think it strange if you fall thus into divers temptations. The Christian life is a warfare after all. John Bunyan rightly set it forth under the allegory of a Holy War; and when he set it forth, in his greater book, under the figure of a pilgrimage, the pilgrimage, too, was full of battles.
Early on in the Westminster address he mentions the twin evils of opposition from the world and from a worldly church, enemies we still face today. “The world today” he says “is opposed to the faith that you profess and the visible church, too often, has made common cause with the world.”
He reminds them that this has always been the case and that the Saviour warned us that it would be so. In light of this, Westminster, he says, was looking for men willing to bear the reproach of Christ and to work hard at studying God's Word.
The consolations or comforts he offers are twofold. First, and not to be underestimated, there is “the affections and prayers of the little company of men, unpopular with the world, who you have called your teachers”. He reminds them that these comrades stand with far more than seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
He reminds them, secondly and more expansively, that his was not the first period when the Christian church was tempted to be discouraged by events. “Again and again” he says “the gospel has seemed to be forever forgotten; yet always it has burst forth with new power and the world has been set aflame.” He wants them to be expectant then and meanwhile not to be unduly impressed “by the pomp and power of this unbelieving age”.
He then describes how a week earlier he had looked down on the city from the 102nd floor of the then newly completed Empire State Building in New York. He states how impressed he was by it all but he says that his mind then went to other buildings he had seen before. He thought particularly of the great cathedrals of England and the continent, living expressions of the human soul and act of worship to Almighty God.
He suggests that while modern builders may be good at lifting the body (1240 feet in record time) they do not compare with the ability of builders in former times to lift the soul. In a flight of fantasy he continues his contrast between the virtual Tower of Babel that he had more recently visited and the ancient cathedrals built over centuries designed to lift ones faith on wings to “the very presence of the infinite God”.
He is eager for his enthusiasm not to be construed as anti-modern or as a call for obscurantism and narrowness. Quite the opposite. No Machen dares to dream of a future time when God will send to the world “something far greater than genius – a humble heart finding in his worship the highest use of al knowledge and all power”. He longs for the rejection of materialism and the embrace of a true view of man.
Meanwhile it is “a drab and empty age” they are in when God's law is forgotten and men are in slavery. Hungry souls are thirsting and hungry for bread, a hunger these men could still by preaching the Word. His desire is not for a novel sect but for a company of men steeped in the Word and in the best scholarly traditions, who labour, mediate and pray in order to faithfully preach.
He wonders aloud
Perhaps you may be the humble instruments, by the use of whatever talents God has given you, of lifting preaching out of the rut into which too often it has fallen, and of making it again, by God's grace, a thing of power.
He closes by saying
Remember this, at least – the things in which the world is now interested are the things that are seen; but the things that are seen are temporal, and the things that are not seen are eternal. You, as ministers of Christ, are called to deal with the unseen things. You are stewards of the mysteries of God. You alone can lead men, by the proclamation of God’s word, out of the crash and jazz and noise and rattle and smoke of this weary age into the green pastures and beside the still waters; you alone, as ministers of reconciliation, can give what the world with all its boasting and pride can never give – the infinite sweetness of the communion of the redeemed soul with the living God.