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

Monday, 22 December 2008

Machen's Parents

Machen's parents were Arthur Webster Machen (born July 20, 1847, he died in 1915) and Mary (Minnie) Jones (born June 17, 1849, she died in 1931).

Friday, 12 December 2008

On being polemical

Men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end.
Some years ago I was in a company of teachers of the Bible in the colleges and other educational institutions of America. One of the most eminent theological professors in the country made an address. In it he admitted that there are unfortunate controversies about doctrine in the Epistles of Paul; but, said he in effect, the real essence of Paul's teaching is found in the hymn to Christian love in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians; and we can avoid controversy today, if we will only devote the chief attention to that inspiring hymn.
In reply, I am bound to say that the example was singularly ill-chosen. That hymn to Christian love is in the midst of a great polemic passage; it would never have been written if Paul had been opposed to controversy with error in the Church. It was because his soul was stirred within him by a wrong use of the spiritual gifts that he was able to write that glorious hymn. So it is always in the Church. Every really great Christian utterance, it may almost be said, is born in controversy. It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of truth.
From an essay on Christian scholarship

On being clear

Clear-cut definition of terms in religious matters, bold facing of the logical implications of religious views, is by many persons regarded as an impious proceeding. May it not discourage contribution to mission boards? May it not hinder the progress of consolidation, and produce a poor showing in columns of Church statistics? But with such persons we cannot possibly bring ourselves to agree. Light may seem at times to be an impertinent intruder, but it is always beneficial in the end. The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from "controversial" matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.
In the intro to Christianity and Liberalism

On the real Jesus

Very different is the imitation of the real Jesus – the Jesus of the New Testament who actually lived in the first century of our era. That Jesus advanced lofty claims; but His claims, instead of being the extravagant dreams of an enthusiast, were sober truth. On His lips, therefore, language which in the reduced Jesus of modern reconstruction would be frenzied or absurd becomes fraught with blessing for mankind. Jesus demanded that those who followed Him should be willing to break even the holiest ties–He said, "If a man cometh to me and hateth not his father and mother . . . he cannot be my disciple," and "Let the dead bury their dead." Coming from the mere prophet constructed by modern liberalism, those words would be monstrous; coming from the real Jesus, they are sublime. How great was the mission of mercy which justified such words! And how wonderful the condescension of the eternal Son! How matchless an example for the children of men! Well might Paul appeal to the example of the incarnate Savior; well might he say, "Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." The imitation of the real Jesus will never lead a man astray.
Christianity and Liberalism

More quotations

False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel.

The Christian religion flourishes not in the darkness but in the light. Intellectual slothfulness is a quack remedy for unbelief; the true remedy is consecration of intellectual power to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from "controversial" matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life.

A low view of law leads to legalism in religion; a high view makes man a seeker after grace.

How to say the name

From a now private blog here

Over the years, one of the more common and grievous errors in pronunciation I have had the displeasure to encounter relate to the name of our hero, J[ohn]. Gresham Machen. While it has been my dubious privilege to hear several mistaken pronunciations of his name in my time, it seems that the more popular one is that which applies to it the rules of German pronunciation. [UPDATE: Or, alternatively, the Welsh pronunciation used by the horror writer* Arthur Machen. With thanks to Maureen for suggesting this in the comments.] In happier times, general interest magazines such as the Literary Digest (an ancestor, so to speak, of Time magazine) would request that scholars and other persons of note explain in a brief, popular manner how to pronounce their names. Indeed, there was even a regular column in the Digest dedicated to this, and compilation was published by Charles Earle Funk under the title What's the Name, Please?: A Guide to the Correct Pronunciation of Current Prominent Names (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1936). Fortunately for us, our hero being just such a person of note, he was asked by the magazine to elucidate the matter of the pronunciation of his name, which he did with the following note:
"The first syllable is pronounced like May, the name of the month. In the second syllable the ch is as in chin, with e as in pen: may'chen. In Gresham, the h is silent: gres'am."
Here, then, we have as close to a final word on the matter as we can hope for. This text is included in Funk's compilation, and as I recall, originally appeared in the Literary Digest in 1917. Full bibliographical data for the magazine column is given in Ned B. Stonehouse's memoir, my copy of which I regrettably cannot find.
{*Arthur Machen was more than a  horror writer}

Machen and McLaren

In a paper given last month by Michael Wittmer of Grand Rapids (pictured) he uses Machen's insights to critique Brian McLaren and the emergent church. An outline can be found here. His thesis is that many of Brian McLaren’s “new” ideas were expressed 85 years ago by the liberal interlocutors of J. Gresham Machen as seen in Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism

Understanding Machen

A chapter on Machen can be found in George Marsden's book Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (a number of pages can be read here).

Monday, 1 December 2008

On preaching sin

No man is interested in a piece of good news unless he has the consciousness of needing it; no man is interested in an offer of salvation unless he knows that there is something from which he needs to be saved. It is quite useless to ask a man to adopt the Christian view of the gospel unless he first has the Christian view of sin.

Machen, God Transcendent, 1949

Monday, 3 November 2008

On the miracle of miracles

Found here
“The very point of the Christian view of the cross is that God does not wait for someone else to pay the price of sin, but in His infinite love has Himself paid the price for us– God Himself in the person of the Son, loved us and gave Himself for us; God Himself in the person of the Father, who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.
It is a strange thing that when men talk about the love of God, they show by every word that they utter that they have no conception at all of the depths of God’s love.
If you want to find an instance of true gratitude for the infinite grace of God, do not go to those who think of God’s love as something that cost nothing, but go rather to those who in agony of soul have faced the awful fact of the guilt of sin, and then have come to know with a trembling wonder that the miracle of all miracles has been accomplished, and that the eternal Son has died in their stead.”
– J. Gresham Machen, “What the Bible Teaches About Jesus,” in Selected Shorter Writings, ed. D.G. Hart. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004), 31-2.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

On Jaywalking

Machen notoriously opposed laws against jay walking. What he had to say is reproduced here from this blog (Geneva Redux).
These anti-pedestrian laws are intended either for the protection of the pedestrian, or for the convenience of the motorist. In either case ... they are wrong. If they are intended to protect the pedestrian from himself, they are paternalistic. I am opposed to paternalism. Among other far more serious objections to it is the objection that it defeats its own purpose. The children of some over-cautious parents never learn to take care of themselves, and so are far more apt to get hurt than children who lead a normal life. So I do not believe that in the long run it will be in the interests of safety if people get used to doing nothing except what a policeman or a traffic light tells them to do, and thus never learn to exercise reasonable care. I am sorry when I see people taking foolish chances on the street. I believe in urging them not to do it. If they do it in outrageous and unreasonable fashion I should not be particularly averse to fining them for obstructing traffic. I rather think that might even be done under existing laws. But I am dead opposed to subjecting a whole city because of the comparatively few incautious people to a treadmill regime like that which prevails in Western cities. I resent such a regime for myself. I have tried it, and I know that it prevent me from the best, and simplest pleasure that a man can have, which is walking. But I resent it particularly because it is a discrimination against the poor and in favor of the rich. That brings us to the real purpose of these laws, which is not that pedestrians should be spared injury but that motorists should be spared a little inconvenience. I drive a car from the driver’s point of view. I know how trifling is the inconvenience which is saved thus at the expense of the liberty of the poorer people in the community. Indeed, I do not believe that in the long run it is for the benefit even of the motorist. I think it is a dreadful thing to encourage in the motorist’s mind, as these laws unquestionably do, the notion that he is running on something like a railroad track cleared for his special benefit. After all, the most serious objection to these doctrinaire, paternalistic laws is the bad effect which they have upon the mentality of people. I do think we ought to call a halt to the excessive mechanization of human life. When I am in one of those over-regulated Western cities, I always feel as though I were in some kind of penal institution. I should certainly hate to see Philadelphia make like those places.

Friday, 17 October 2008

On the Reformed Faith

This quotation is again on several blogs including this one here.
"When a man has once come into sympathetic contact with that noble tradition of the Reformed faith, he will never readily be satisfied with a mere “Fundamentalism” that seeks in some hasty modern statement a greatest common measure between men of different creeds. Rather will he strive always to stand in the great central current of the church’s life that has come down to us through Augustine and Calvin to the standards of the Reformed faith."
From Machen's Selected Shorter Writings (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing), 551.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Machen on Education and Civil Government

Machen's Testimony before the House & Senate Committees on the Proposed Department of Education in February 1926 can be found here.
“It is very much easier to prevent the formation of some agency that may be thought to be unfortunate than it is to destroy it after it is once formed.” After an agency is formed, Machen argued, it tends to grow and gain more power, even if it does not accomplish its original goal. Any perceived failure may well be attributed to lack of power or funds, both of which, when supplemented, expand the intrusiveness of the agency.
(See here too)

Friday, 26 September 2008

More Trueman on Machen

The article below is in the latest edition (33.2 (2008)) of Themelios here

Minority Report
The Second Most Important Book You Will Ever Read
— Carl Trueman —
Carl Trueman is Academic Dean, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In the lounge next to my office hang the portraits of a number of the founding faculty of my institution, Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. There is one of John Murray, the dour-looking Scotsman with the glass eye. Legend has it that you could tell which eye was the real one because that was the one which did not smile. There is one of Ned Stonehouse, whose good looks in early faculty photos would seem more appropriate to a Hollywood heart-throb of the 1930s than a learned professor of New Testament. Then above the fireplace, now somewhat moth-eaten and in need of restoration, is the magnificent portrait of the founder of the Seminary, the great J. Gresham Machen, a name synonymous with both exacting orthodox scholarship on the New Testament and, more than that, valiant struggle for the truth in both church and seminary.
Machen had a stellar academic background: he studied at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, then Princeton Seminary under the great B. B. Warfield, and also in Germany where his mind was set on fire by the passionate liberalism of the wild yet brilliant Wilhelm Herrmann. Yet in the 1920s and ’30s he became a passionate advocate for Christian orthodoxy amidst the conflicts that were shaking both Princeton, where he was a professor, and the Presbyterian Church of which he was a member and an office-bearer. The result of these conflicts was the founding of (1) Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929 as an institution committed to continuing the teaching of theology according to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms and (2) the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1936 as a church committed to maintaining biblical church standards in doctrine and life.
Machen also possessed a key quality which is evident in many of the great church leaders throughout history: the ability to write and communicate at both a high scholarly level (as in his book on the virgin birth) and at the level of the ordinary (if there is such a thing) believer in the pew, and to do the latter in a manner which is not condescending or patronizing. His was a rare gift indeed. Among the greatest examples of this in the Machen corpus is his remarkable little book, entitled simply Christianity and Liberalism, a book still kept in print by Eerdmans, the American publisher.
The thesis of the book is devastatingly simple: Christianity, built on the authoritative, divinely inspired, inerrant revelation of God in Scripture, embodying a robust supernaturalism, and focused on the exclusivity of salvation in the person and work of Christ, is a different religion to that liberalism that repudiates each of these things.
In an age like ours, of course, where fuzzy boundaries, vagueness, doubt, and caution are supreme virtues, Machen’s thesis is likely to appear both arrogant and overstated. But, as Machen himself says in the opening paragraphs, "In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight." There is insight here. Before we see Machen as too intolerant, too much a man of a bygone age, let us reflect on the fact that we live in an age that is remarkably certain and intolerant on a whole host of fronts, from racism to poverty to cruelty against animals to homophobia. Regardless of where we come down on each of these issues, very few of us will be indifferent on them, or particularly laissez-faire towards those with whom we disagree on these matters.

Thus, it is not really that Machen is a man of a bygone, intolerant age which makes this little book so offensive to modern ears. We should not flatter our own enlightened times so easily, for it is not the reality of intolerance in itself that has changed. Rather, it is that we now have a different set of issues that arouse intolerance, and this change reflects not only shifting values in society but also in the church, to the extent that she no longer stands intolerantly for her truth as she once did. The question is thus not whether we are intolerant: we surely are. The question is rather: Are we intolerant of the right things? As the value of religious truth has become negligible, so the passions aroused by such in the wider world have died down. That we do not fight over these things is not a virtue; it is rather be a sign that we just do not care about them any more, and that is the result of the downgrading of the Bible in our thinking. We no longer look on it as a book of divine truth and thus of almost unbearable importance; it is now a ragbag of disparate religious reflections, or a collection of texts reflecting on religious psychology, or simply a cacophony of ancient near-eastern tribal mythology.
For Machen, however, the Bible contains truth, and as such is ineradicably doctrinal. Indeed, one
overarching concern in Christianity and Liberalism is simply the vital importance of Christian doctrine to the church: doctrine, he makes clear, is the very heart of Christian testimony. Claiming to honor the Bible without synthesizing the Bible’s teaching into doctrine, into systematic theology, is not really honoring the Bible at all, for the Bible teaches truth, truth which is coherent and can be articulated; and regarding with indifference those things which the Bible clearly sees as important is, in some sense, the worst sin of all. In a memorable passage, Machen discusses how it was a tragedy that Luther and Zwingli fell out so badly over the nature of Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper, but how it would have been an even greater tragedy had they simply agreed to differ on the grounds that the matter was of no importance.
Given this doctrinal concern, those who follow Machen in this regard are unlikely to win many friends or influence people in today’s Christian world, where the great doctrines of the faith are often considered less significant than positions on social issues, whether it be the current conservative passion for Christian and home schooling, or the left’s zeal for issues of social justice. Pragmatics—what we do, what results we achieve—has real priority over what we believe and stand for every time. Yet for those who wish to stand within the stream of historic, biblical Christianity, Machen’s book represents a clarion call to action: Christians must realize the essentially doctrinal core of their faith and fearlessly stand upon such without compromise.
The book is also full of pithy sayings that repay careful reflection. Here are a few examples:

"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 (27).
When it is once admitted that a body of facts lies at the basis of the Christian religion, the efforts which past generations have made toward the classification of the facts will have to be treated with respect (46).

The modern liberal preacher reverences Jesus; he has the name of Jesus forever on his lips; he speaks of Jesus as the supreme revelation of God; he enters, or tries to enter, into the religious life of Jesus. But he does not stand in a religious relation to Jesus. Jesus for him is an example for faith, not the object of faith (85).

[L]iberalism within the "evangelical" churches is inferior to Unitarianism. It is inferior to Unitarianism in the matter of honesty. In order to maintain themselves in the evangelical churches and quiet the fears of their conservative associates, the liberals resort constantly to a double use of language (111).

Narrowness does not consist in definite devotion to certain convictions or in definite rejection of others. But the narrow man is the man who rejects the other man’s convictions without first endeavoring to understand them, the man who makes no effort to look at things from the other man’s point of view (160).

These are typical of the sentiments throughout the book. My own copy has barely a page without some paragraph, sentence, or clause underlined. It is refreshing to read a book that is as clearly thought out as it is written. But the bottom line is not Machen’s style or his logical precision or the passion of his rhetoric. It is his basic point: Christianity and liberalism are two different religions. The difference between them is not a quantitative one, of a system of 100% truth over against a system of 75% truth; rather it is a qualitative one of truth to falsehood, of worship to idolatry, of that which brings blessing to that which ultimately brings only a curse.
That is a crucial message for the church today, particularly for those involved in academic study. Certainly Christianity is no excuse for obscurantism. It is important—indeed, it is a Christian imperative—that we understand and treat fairly the views of opponents, whoever they may be. Intentionally to distort the views of an opponent in order to win an argument is a breach of the ninth commandment and not an option for a disciple of Christ. Nor is Christianity an excuse for being rude and curmudgeonly towards those with whom we disagree. But let us be clear: the supernatural Christianity of the authoritative and divinely inspired Scriptures stands in opposition to all other religious systems, even those that use Christian jargon while yet denying the faith’s basic foundations.
Study can be seductive. The realization that professors who spend their days undermining the faith are actually pretty decent people, interesting and delightful company, loving to their wives and children, and often more likeable than their orthodox counterparts, can produce crises of faith among students more often than many would imagine. The attractive power of real learning should never be underestimated. What Machen’s argument makes clear, however, is that truth is not personal. It is truth, and conformity with such is what is important, not whether we like the people advocating it or not. That Christ has died is fact. That he died for my sins is doctrine. That the person telling me this might be less likeable than that really decent and friendly professor who denies the resurrection is irrelevant.
Theological students should reach for Machen’s little book every year to remind themselves that
orthodoxy does not equate to obscurantism, but that there is something really at stake here in the struggle between orthodox, supernatural Christianity and everything else. Indeed, I would venture to say that this is the second most important book that theologians could ever read. As to the first: well, if you don’t know what that is, read chapter four in Christianity and Liberalism, and hang your head in shame!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Galatians 2:21

“I do not make void the grace of God; for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21)
“I do not make void the grace of God,” says Paul in concluding the report of his speech to Peter; “for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died in vain.” The “for” here gives a reason for the use of the harsh word “make void”–” ‘make void,’ I say; for that is just the right word, since if Judaizers say, justification comes even in part through our obedience to the law, then Christ died in vain.”
This verse is the key verse of the Epistle to the Galatians; it expresses the central thought of the Epistle. The Judiazers attempted to supplement the saving work of Christ by the merit of their own obedience to the law. “That,” says Paul, “is impossible; Christ will do everything or nothing: earn your salvation if your obedience to the law is perfect, or else trust wholly to Christ completed work; you cannot do both; you cannot combined merit and grace; if justification even in slightest measure is through human merit, then Christ died in vain.”

J.Gresham Machen, Notes on Galatians. Edited by John H. Skilton, Solid Ground Classic Reprints, page 161.

Notes on Notes on Galatians

J. Gresham Machen, Edited by John H. Skilton
Here we read
The chief feature of this volume is that it makes available in convenient form the "Notes on Biblical Exposition" which Dr. J. Gresham Machen published in the earlier 'Christianity Today' from January 1931 to February 1933. Students at Westminster Seminary have made profitable use of these Notes on Galatians 1:1 - 3:14 by following them, with minor inconveience, through bound periodical volumes; but for many others who might greatly benefit from them, they have long been inaccessible.
Here you will find a master exegete opening up important and essential meterial to help undertsand the import of the great Apoostle on this vital portion of Scripture.
"Notes on Galatians is one of the hidden jewels of J Gresham Machen's outstanding contributions to Christian literature. As Galatians has again become a battleground for theological controversy over the nature of the gospel, Dr Machen's exegetical insight and theological sturdiness provide wise and careful guidance for a new generation of Bible students. Written for a previous generation it continues to speak to the contemporary one." - Dr. Sinclair Ferguson"
"Dr. Machen was a master at crystal clear teaching and his work on Galatians is a good model of this gift. In a day of confused and confusing teaching on this Book, Dr. Machen reminds us of the dynamic power of this Gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone that is opened so richly by the Apostle Paul." - Pastor Bill Shishko
"Machen wrote on Galatians to inform his students and to help Sunday School teachers. It is written with delightful clarity and incidentally introduces us to what Machen did very well, teach the New Testament to students at Princeton and Westminster Seminaries. It is wonderfully lucid; a pleasure to read; a model for anyone who preaches the Bible." - Geoff Thomas"
"This is Machen at his best, and surely begs to be re-printed. Especially the introductory chapters are needed nowadays." - Pastor Tom Lyon"
"J. Gresham Machen is perhaps best known for his defense of Christianity and especially for his articulate advocacy of confessional Reformed theology. By training, however, he was a New Testament scholar and by practice he was a biblical exegete of the first order. This little work on Galatians is still useful as a witness to Machen's clear-headed insight into the nature and message of Paul's letter to the Galatians. This witness seems particularly relevant in the midst of the current confusion surrounding Paul and the doctrine of justification." - Dr. R. Scott Clark
The late John H. Skilton did a great service to the church by getting this material from various places and putting it all conveniently in one place.
W H Chellis has written here
In reading through J. Gresham Machen’s Notes on Galatians, I found this interesting quote. It first appeared in Christianity Today in January 1931. Machen died in 1937. I assume this comment is a product of Machen’s more mature thought:

“In the second place, Christians should by no means adopt a negative attitude toward art, government, science, literature, and other achievements of mankind, but should consecrate these things to the service of God. The separateness of the Christian man from the world is not to be manifested, as so many seem to think that it should be manifested, by the presentation to God of only an impoverished man; but it is to be manifested by the presentation to God of all man’s God-given powers developed to the full. That is the higher Christian humanism, a humanism based not upon human pride but upon the solid foundation of the grace of God.”
(p 33)
Another good quote is this one
“The faith that James is condemning is not the faith that Paul is commending.”

NT Greek Grammar

The text of Machen's NT Greek grammar can be found here

A Brief Bible History

Work extracted from a joint work by Machen and James Oscar Boyd entitled "A Brief Bible History: A Survey of the Old and New Testaments" (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, (1922), now in the public domain can be found here in pdf.
The whole work can also be found here.

Sin and its consequences

A series of essays by Machen drawn from The Christian View of man and God Transcendent can be found here.
Topics covered

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Machen Quotes

It is upon this brotherhood of twice-born sinners, this brotherhood of the redeemed, that the Christian founds the hope of society. He finds no solid hope in the improvement of earthly conditions, or the molding of human institutions under the influence of the Golden Rule. These things indeed are to be welcomed. They may so palliate the symptoms of sin that there may be time to apply the true remedy; they may serve to produce conditions upon the earth favorable to the propagation of the gospel message; they are even valuable for their own sake. But in themselves their value, to the Christian, is certainly small. A solid building cannot be constructed when all the materials are faulty; a blessed society cannot be formed out of men who are still under the curse of sin. Human institutions are really to be molded, not by Christian principles accepted by the unsaved, but by Christian men; the true transformation of society will come by the influence of those who have themselves been redeemed.
Christianity may be subordinated to culture. That solution really, though to some extent unconsciously, is being favored by a very large and influential portion of the Church today. For the elimination of the supernatural in Christianity—so tremendously common today—really makes Christianity merely natural. Christianity becomes a human product, a mere part of human culture. But as such it is something entirely different from the old Christianity that was based upon a direct revelation from God. Deprived thus of its note of authority, the gospel is no gospel any longer; it is a check for untold millions—but without the signature at the bottom. So in subordinating Christianity to culture we have really destroyed Christianity, and what continues to bear the old name is a counterfeit.

Machen and WTS Faculty

Machen is at the centre with Ned B. Stonehouse, O.T. Allis, Paul Woolley and Cornelius Van Til either side of him and John Murray and Allan MacRae at the back.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Chrisope on Machen

Terry Chrisope is the author of a Mentor paperback (2000) Toward a Sure Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Dilemma of Biblical Criticism, 1881-1915. Details here.

Stonehouse on Machen

This entry draws attention to the updated version of Stonehouse's biography of Machen

Machen and the OPC

A resource page regarding Machen and the OPC can be found here

On the mind

A series of quotations on the subject by Machen can be found here

The Tolerance of Paul

Machen's brief article on The Tolerance of Paul can be found here

Friday, 12 September 2008

Moore on Machen and theological reflection

An essay by Moore on William G Moore on Machen and the power of theological reflection can be found here

Hart on Machen and America

An article by Daryl G Hart entitled J. Gresham Machen and the Problem of Christian Civilization in America can be found here in pdf

Hart on Machen etc

A Themelios article by Machen expert Daryl G Hart called J Gresham Machen, Inerrancy, and Creedless Christianity can be found here

Creeds and doctrinal advance

This sermon or talk on Creeds and doctrinal advance was given as a radio talk and is in God Transcendent. It can be found here

The Separateness of the church

Machen's 1925 sermon on Matt 5:13 can be found here

The Evangelical Student

Largely forgotten now, the League of Evangelical Students was an early 20th Century forerunner to such contemporary evangelical student fellowships as InterVarsity, Campus Crusade for Christ and Reformed University Ministries. Its mission statement declared it to be "an inter-denominational and international student movement for the defense and propagation of the Gospel in the modern student-world."
Organized 1925, the League grew to have over 60 chapters across the campuses of America, with an affiliated chapter located in China. Its leadership came primarily from the conservative ranks of the northern Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and it is notable that many of these same leaders were later to figure prominently in the formation of both Westminster Theological Seminary 1929 and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church 1936. The Evangelical Student magazine ran 1926-1939, with the first issue appearing April, 1926. In addition to the magazine, the League held annual conferences which were hosted by various chapters. Three articles appearing in the first issue give something of the background and purpose of the organization. The final issue of the magazine was January 1939 (Vol 14, no 1).

Over the years Machen contributd the following six articles:

"Facing the Facts Before God," 6.1 (Oct. 1931) 6 - 10.
"Is the Bible Right About Jesus?: I. What the Bible Teaches About Jesus," 3.1 (Oct. 1928) 4 - 11.
"Is the Bible Right About Jesus?: II. The Witness of Paul," 3.2 (Jan. 1929) 7 - 15.
"Is the Bible Right About Jesus?: III. The Witness of the Gospels," 3.3 (Apr. 1929) 11 - 20.
"A Precious Fragment of the Gospel According to John, 11.2 (Apr. 1936) 6 -7.
"The Separateness of the Church," 12.2 (Apr. 1937) 6 - 12.
The series "Is the Bible right?" is reproduced in the Selected Shorter Writings

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Faith and the gospel

Machen's essay Faith and the gospel can be found here

Life founded upon the truth

Machen's Life founded upon truth can be found here


A number of unreferenced quotations can be found here and here Eg

In many respects, my work is very enjoyable, for I seem to get on pretty well with the fellows and enjoy the work of instruction as well as my own studies.
Afternoon classes - that evil invention!

Conservative New Testament studies could also provide an intellectually satisfying alternative to German biblical criticism and to the liberal theology that accompanied it.

I see with greater and greater clearness that consistent Christianity is the easiest Christianity to defend.

Stay the course.

I can't die now, I have so much work to do.

I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.

Machen's mother

An early notebook of Machen's mother Minnie is extant. Details here

Time articles

Time articles that mention Machen can be found here

Death Notice

This brief death notice appeared in Time Janury 11 1937
Died, Dr. John Gresham Machen, 55, peppery Philadelphia Fundamentalist; of lobar pneumonia; in Bismarck, N. Dak., where he had paused on a speaking tour.
Tried, convicted and suspended by the Presbyterian Church, he defiantly formed his own Presbyterian Church of America.

Machen on trial

Here is another contemporary newspaper piece from March 1935

Dr Machen invited

An interesting contemporary newspaper piece from June 1927 appears here

Last telegram

It is well known that as Machen lay dying, having gone through blizzards to visit a church in North Dakota that was in trouble, and having thus contracted pneumonia, he telegraphed his friend Professor John Murray at Westminster Seminary with these words: "Thank God for the act of obedience of Christ; no hope without it." The allusion seems to be to something they had recently been discussing.

The Origin of Paul's Religion

Machen's book The origin of Paul's religion can be found here

Sharp Dresser Anecdote

Wayne Sparkman recounted an anecdote about Machen from Cornelius Van Til.
“Machen was known for being a sharp dresser and having a consistent stylish look Well, after he died they found 20 or 30 exact copies of the same suit in his closet!
It’s little things like that that add humanity to the man. It’s not just facts on a page, but a reality of who they were as a person.”
Apparently there is a Brooks Brothers receipt for a suit somewhere in the archive.

Christianity and Liberalism Thesis

In my little book, Christianity and Liberalism, 1923, I tried to show that the issue in the Church of the present day is not between two varieties of the same religion, but, at bottom, between two essentially different types of thought and life. There is much interlocking of the branches, but the two tendencies, Modernism and supernaturalism, or (otherwise designated) non-doctrinal religion and historic Christianity, spring from different roots. In particular, I tried to show that Christianity is not a "life," as distinguished from a doctrine, and not a life that has doctrine as its changing symbolic expression, but that--exactly the other way around--it is a life founded on a doctrine.
(From "Christianity in Conflict," an autobiographical essay on Machen's life and works).

Trueman on Machen etc

An article by Carl Trueman on Christianity, Liberalism and the New Evangelicalism can be found here

Monday, 8 September 2008

Benefits of Walking

Found this. Thanks!
“Having the great joy of three weeks of climbing in the Canadian Rockies, I am writing this little article to see whether I cannot help even those readers who cannot climb and cannot go to the Canadian Rockies to get some of the benefits which I am getting here.
Climbing mountains is good, in the first place for the body, and in the second place for the soul.
It is good for the body because of the wholesome buffeting of the body which it brings. To get such buffeting, the “tired American businessman” is wont, I believe, to place himself under the despotic control of some ex-prizefighter until he comes out of the ex-prizefighter’s (very expensive) establishment feeling fit. There are, I suppose, cruel and unusual punchings of the bag and pulling of the chest weights most severe. I shudder when I think of it. Such drudgery will people submit to in order to harden their bodies and make them a little better able to undertake the duties of life. I admire people who thus recognize the fact that a soft body will not do hard work.
But there are even better ways of hardening the body, and one of these is to learn to climb. Let that tired businessman get a good Swiss guide, like the one that I have here; let him be initiated into the mysteries of rock climbing, and he will find that his softness of body will soon disappear. What a thoroughgoing twisting and pulling and bumping the body gets, at every conceivable angle and in every conceivable way, on a rock climb even of moderate difficulty! It is glorious exercise indeed.
Now I know that it is only a few people who can climb. Climbing without expert guides, unless one is oneself a real expert, is highly dangerous; and there are now, I believe, only four mountaineering guides in all of Canada. Since the Canadian Pacific Railway speaks of western Canada as “fifty Switzerlands in one,” that makes just about one guide for every dozen Switzerlands - hardly enough to go around!
But the point that I am making is that many of the same benefits as those that are obtained in climbing may be obtained also without climbing and without the expense of guides. They may be secured through that cheapest and simplest of all forms of exercise - the exercise of walking.
I can testify to that from personal experience, for I have been a walker all my life. I do not, indeed, underestimate those comparatively rare occasions when I have been able to climb. They would hardly have justified the expense involved in them if they had brought to me merely the pleasure of the moment, but as a matter of fact when the climbs have been over, the benefit of them has just begun. During a period of nineteen years, when I did no climbing at all, how I used to live over again in memory those glorious days in the Eastern Alps in 1913! How eagerly did I read countless descriptions, in books and Alpine journals, of precipitous mountains of South Tirol! Then in 1932 and 1935 came the crowning joy of standing on the great Zermatt peaks. When I get discouraged I love to think of that unbelievable half hour when, after having climbed the Matterhorn by the Zmutt Ridge, we sat on the Italian summit, with our feet over Italy and our backs to a little wall of summit snow, and let our eyes drink in the marvelous beauty of the scene. What a wonderful help it is in all discouragements, what a blessed gift of God, to be able to bring before the mind’s eye such a vision as that.
But do you know, my friends, a man can have very much that same joy in much simpler ways.
The more I see of the high mountains, the more I love the simple beauty of the woods and hills, and the more I love to walk.
What a very simple amusement walking is! You do not need any elaborate equipment; you just “up and do it” any time you like.
But perhaps you say that as a matter of fact you do not like it. All right, I say; but will you not learn to like it?
There are many things that man does not like at first, and yet that he comes to like. A man says, for example, that he cannot see anything at all in golf. It seems to him a very silly game. But then a friend persuades him one day to go out and have a try. He has “beginner’s luck.” He manages just once to hit the ball instead of the earth. To his amazement he watches that ball go. How amazingly far that little pellet will sail when you happen to hit it right! Well, the man understands the fascination at last. He plays golf and talks golf and the rest of his life. He is a hopeless victim of the well-known “hoof and mouth disease.”
So when you say you do not love to walk, I do wish I could just get you to try. I do wish I could persuade you to use the old Ford this summer just to get to the edge of the woods. If you did choose that kind of a holiday, it would not cost you much, shoe-leather being much cheaper than gasoline and rubber tires. And the wholesome exercise you would get, and the close contact with the beauties of nature, would be a wonderful thing “as well for the body as the soul.”

Main Biographies

The main biographies regarding Machen are as follows:

1. Coray, Henry W, J. Gresham Machen A Silhouette (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1981), pb, 128pp.; 19 cm. (Willow Grove, PA: The Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2002), pb, 127pp; 21.5 cm.
2. Chrisope, Terry A, Toward a Sure Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Dilemma of Biblical Criticism, 1881-1915 (Ross-Shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2000), pb, 240pp; 21.5 cm.
3. Stonehouse, Ned B, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir (Grand Rapids: Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954), hb, 520pp; 22 cm.
4. Woolley, Paul, The Significance of J Gresham Machen Today (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co, 1977), pb, 84pp; 21 cm.
5. Nichol, Stephen J, J. Gresham Machen: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought (Nutley NJ, Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 2004) pb, 252 pp
6. Hart, Daryl G, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1994. (based on Doctor Fundamentalis: An Intellectual Biography of J. Gresham Machen, 1881-1937. PhD diss, John Hopkins University, 1988)
Also note
Lippmann, Walter, A Preface to Morals (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960), pb, 348pp; 20 cm. [pages 32-34 present Lippmann's comments regarding Dr Machen]
Hart, Daryl G "J. Gresham Machen." In Handbook of Evangelical Theologians. Walter A. Elwell, ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993.
_____ "The Legacy of J Gresham Machen and the Identity of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church." Westminster Theological Journal 53 (1991): 209-225.


The main books available by J Gresham Machen are as follows:

1. A Rapid Survey of the Literature and History of New Testament Times, Parts I, II, III, and IV in The Westminster Departmental Graded Series International Course-Modified (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1914 and 1915), eight volumes in all, Student's Text Book (4 vols.) and Teacher's Manual (4 vols.)
2. The Literature and History of New Testament Times (Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath School Work, 1915), 288pp.
3. The New Testament: An Introduction, edited by W John Cook, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976), hb, 386pp.
4. Christianity and Liberalism (Philadelphia: The Sunday School Times Company, 1923, reprinted February 1924; also New York: The Macmillan Company, 1934 [seventh printing], hb, 189pp.
5. The Origin of Paul's Religion (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921), hb, 329pp.; 22.5 cm. [being the James Sprunt Lectures delivered at Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA]
(Grand Rapids : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1925, 1970, 1973 and 1976), pb, 329pp.
6. The Virgin Birth of Christ (New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1930, Second edition, 1932), hb, x, 415pp.
7. What Is Faith? (Grand Rapids : Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1946), hb, 263pp.
8. The Christian View of Man (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1937, 1965), pb, 254pp.
9. God Transcendent (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1949, 1982), pb, 206pp.
10. Education, Christianity and the State, edited by John W. Robbins (Unicoi, TN: The Trinity Foundation, 1987, third printing, 2004), pb, xii, 163pp.
11. Selected Shorter Writings, edited by D.G. Hart (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), hb, vii, 590pp.
12. Notes On Galatians, edited by John Skilton, (Solid Ground Books, 2006), pb, 248pp.
13. The Gospel and the Modern World, edited by S J nichols (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2005), pb, 48pp.

Macartney on Machen

Remarks on Machen made by Clarence MacCartney in 1936 can be found here

Letter to Miss Gushard

A letter from Machen answering an enquiry on ethics can be found here in pdf

Christianity in Conflict

Machen's essay Christianity in Conflict can be found here and here in pdf

Historical Collections

The main historical collections regarding Machen are found here:
1. J. Gresham Machen Collection, PCA Historical Center, St. Louis, MO.
Content Summary: This collection consists of published works authored by Dr. J. Gresham Machen, one work each published by his father and his mother, and both books and articles concerning Dr. Machen's life and ministry.
Access Restrictions: None
Related Collections: J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. Papers, Box 284
See here
2. The Machen Archives, the definitive collection of his papers, is located in the Montgomery Library on the campus of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA.
3. There is also a collection of Machen papers, including materials on the 1929 reorganization of Princeton Theological Seminary, located in the Department of Archives and Special Collections at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ.

Machen on mountains

Various items in connection with Machen and mountains can be found here

Prophets False and True

Machen's sermon 1 Kings 22:14 on can be found here

The Fear of God

Machen's sermon on Matt 10:28 can be found here The text is also in his What is faith?

Constraining love

Machen's sermon on 2 Cor 5:14f can be found here

The Living Saviour

Machen's sermon The Living Saviour can be found here

Changing Scene Unchanging Word

Machen's article on The Changing Scene and the Unchanging Word can be found here

News clippings 1935

News clippings regarding Machen's 1935 trial can be seen here

Necessity of the Christian School

Machen's essay The Necessity of the Christian School can be found here

My Idea of God

Machen's 1927 essay under this title can be seen here in pdf

WTS Brochure 1931

See here for an early brochure for Westminster Theological Seminary

Piper on Machen and Modernism

John Piper's piece on Machen can be found here or here


A Chronological Outline of Key Events in Machen’s Life
  • July 20, 1827 Father, Arthur Webster Machen, born
  • June 17, 1849  Mother, Mary Jones Gresham, born
  • 1876  Brother, Arthur, born
  • July 28, 1881  Machen born in Baltimore
  • 1881  Francis Patton comes to Princeton as professor
  • 1886  Brother, Thomas, born
  • 1888  Francis Patton becomes president of Princeton
  • Jan. 4, 1896  Machen became confessing member of Franklin St. Presbyterian Church
  • 1897 William Park Armstrong graduates from Princeton
  • Nov. 3, 1898 - Machen enters Johns Hopkins on three-year program
  • 1889, 1900, 1902 Machen attended the Northfield Conference
  • 1901  Machen editor of The Hullabaloo, the school annual, the Banjo Club and the Chess Club
  • April 15, 1901  Machen elected Phi Beta Kappa
  • Fall, 1901  Machen began a year of graduate studies in Classics at Johns Hopkins
  • Summer, 1902  Machen took a course in banking and international law at U. of Chicago
  • Fall, 1902  Machen entered Princeton Seminary
  • 1903  His cousin, LeRoy Gresham, left law in Baltimore to study at Union Seminary in Richmond
  • 1903  Mary Machen published The Bible in Browning
  • 1904  Machen won the Middler Prize in NT Exegesis with paper on John 1:1-18
  • Spring, 1904  Patton confers with Machen about preparing for a professorship at the Seminary in NT
  • Summer, 1904  Machen goes to Germany to learn German better
  • 1905  Machen won the senior essay contest with “A Critical Discussion of the NT Account of the Virgin Birth of Jesus”
  • Spring, 1905  Machen’s graduation from Princeton
  • Oct., 1905 and Jan. 1906  Publication of senior essay in the Princeton Seminary Review.
  • 1905-1906  Machen studies in Germany (Marburg and Goettingen)
  • Mar. 11, 1906  Armstrong asks him to join faculty of Princeton.
  • June 13, 1906 Machen is invited by Warfield’s brother, the president of Lafayette College to come and teach Greek and German.
  • August 21, 1906 Machen arrives back in America.
  • Fall, 1906  Machen accepts a year’s appointment to Princeton to assist Armstrong in NT.
  • Feb., 1909  “Student rebellion” at Princeton
  • 1907-08 Machen announced a course on the birth narratives. His magnum opus, The Virgin Birth of Christ appeared in 1930.
  • 1909  Machen began to supplement Huddlestone’s Essentials of New Testament Greek, an effort which became, New Testament Greek for Beginners in 1923.
  • 1909  Warfield’s message on Calvinism at the 400th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth stirred Machen deeply.
  • 1910-1915  Publication of The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth
  • Sept. 12, 1912  Machen gave address “Christianity and Culture” at opening of 101st session of Princeton.
  • Jan. 4, 1913 Machen got his first major recognition as a scholar of international attention when Adolf Harnack reviewed in Theologische Literaturzeitung Machen’s articles on the first chapters of Luke.
  • Nov. 1913  Machen came under the care of his Presbytery at age 32.
  • April, 1914  Machen was licensed.
  • June 23, 1914  Machen was ordained at Plainsboro, NJ.
  • May, 1914  Machen was elected to Assistant Professor of NT
  • 1914  J. Ross Stevenson elected President of Princeton.
  • January, 1915  Machen hears Billy Sunday
  • 1914  Machen wrote the weekly lessons for the Board of Christian Education Senior Course of Sunday School.
  • April, 1915  Machen turns down invitation to Union in Richmond.
  • May 3, 1915  Machen installed at professor at Princeton.
  • December 19, 1915 Machen’s father died at the age of 88.
  • April 6, 1917  America declared war.
  • Nov. 11, 1918 War ended.
  • May 6, 1919  Address to alumni and then published the address in the Presbyterianunder the title “The Church in the War”
  • Summer, 1920  Controversy at General Assembly over the Plan of Union
  • Feb. 16, 1921  Benjamin Warfield died.
  • Summer, 1921 General Assembly sees the Plan of Union was defeated in the Presbyteries.
  • Jan. 1921  Machen delivered Sprunt Lectures at Richmond on the Origin of Paul’s religion.
  • Oct. 9, 1921 The Origin of Paul’s Religion published
  • May 22, 1922  Harry Emerson Fosdick preached “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”
  • Feb. 1923  Publication of Christianity and Liberalism.
  • Summer, 1923  General Assembly in Indianapolis elects liberal moderator by 24 votes with delegates about evenly divided (C. F. Wishart over William Jennings Bryant)
  • Jan. 9, 1924  150 clergymen publish “An Affirmation designed to Safeguard the Unity and Liberty of the Presbyterian Church in the USA” called the Auburn Declaration with 1300 eventual signatures.
  • March 1, 1925  Machen ceased to be the stated preacher of First Church of Princeton because of accusations of van Dyke
  • Summer, 1925  1) Charles Erdman, prof. of practical theology elected as Moderator of General Assembly. 2) Machen writes What Is Faith with a view to Grove City Bible Conference.
  • Nov. 1925  What Is Faith published by Macmillan
  • Dec. 2, 1925  Machen gives Committee of Fifteen his reasons for believing that Modernism was infecting the Church
  • Jan. 12, 1926  Lecture “Shall We Have a Federal Department of Education”
  • Feb. 24, 1926  Machen testifies on Education bills before congressional committee.
  • April 13, 1926  Machen votes no at Presbytery of New Brunswick meeting against the 18th (prohibition) amendment.
  • May, 1926  Machen elected by Directors to the chair of Apologetics.
  • Summer, 1926  1) General Assembly in Baltimore approves the Committee of Fifteen’s report that denies Machen’s allegations. 2) Also the GA appointed a committee to investigate the seminary and eventually make recommendations about its organization. 3) Machen’s approval for chair of Apologetics delayed.
  • 1926-27  Directors of the Seminary said President Stevenson’s “usefulness is at an end.”
  • April, 1927  Investigating committee published its report.
  • Spring, 1927  Machen gave Smyth Lectures at Columbia Seminary on the Virgin Birth.
  • Summer, 1927 General Assembly postpones action on reorganizing seminary and set up larger committee to prepare for it.
  • Dec. 1927  Machen published, The Attack upon Princeton Seminary: A Plea for Fair Play
  • Summer, 1928 Owing to the Princeton Petition signed by 11,000 people and 3,000 ministers postponed action on reorganizing the seminary for another year.
  • June 28, 1928  Machen removes his name from consideration for Professor of Apologetics.
  • Fall, 1928  Cornelius Van Til takes up instruction in apologetics
  • Summer, 1929  At St. Paul the reorganization of the seminary was approved at a 5 - 3 proportion.
  • July 8, 1929 Westminster Seminary conceived in a luncheon on Philadelphia
  • July 18, 1929 A meeting of seventy persons (former directors, faculty, and students) took steps to organize Westminster.
  • Sept. 25, 1929 Westminster Seminary opened with 50 students, and Machen gave address: “Westminster Theological Seminary: Its Purpose and Plan.”
  • 1930  Christianity Today incorporated by Machen, Craig and Shrader.
  • Feb, 1930  The Virgin Birth of Christ is published.
  • Oct. 31, 1931  Machen’s mother dies.
  • 1932  A committee of the Presbyterian Church publishes Rethinking Missions.
  • 1932  Machen addressed the American Academy of Political and Social Science, on “The Responsibility of the Church in our New Age.”
  • June 27, 1933  The Independent Board of Foreign Missions was organized and Machen was elected President.
  • Summer 1934  The GA declares the Independent Board unconstitutional.
  • Dec. 20, 1934 Machen’s Presbytery appoints a judicial commission to try Machen for “violation of his ordination vows.”
  • 1935 Machen gives a weekly radio program: The Christian Faith in the Modern World, and The Christian View of Man
  • Feb-Mar, 1935  Trial of Machen before the Presbytery.
  • Mar. 29, 1935  Guilty verdict.
  • June 27, 1935  Preparations made for a possible new church by the organization of the Constitutional Covenant Union.
  • Oct. 7, 1935  First issue of The Presbyterian Guardian.
  • June 11, 1936 The Presbyterian Church of America was formed and Machen was chosen Moderator.
  • Summer, 1936  The Syracuse GA rejected the appeal and let the verdict stand.
  • Jan. 1, 1937  At 7:30 PM Machen dies.