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

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Origin of Paul's Religion

This is now available as an e-sword module. See here.

Author:Gresham Machen
e-Sword Version: e-Sword 9.x and above

The Origin of Paul's Religion (1921) is perhaps Machen's best known scholarly work. This book was a successful attempt at critiquing the Modernist belief that Paul's religion was based mainly upon Greek philosophy and was entirely different from the religion of Jesus.
Machen writes a masterful and forthright defense of the historical truthfulness and supernaturalism of the New Testament. This volume is taken from the James Sprunt Lectures delivered at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. Reprints of this book sometimes add the subtitle "The Classic Defense of Supernatural Christianity".
Machen refutes with the anti-supernaturalism that was beginning to dominate the church in the early decades of the twentieth century. Although written 85 years ago it remains a model of biblical scholarship and warm piety.
"In an age when the nature and content of Paul's message are once again under scrutiny, evangelical and Reformed readers will benefit immensely from a close reading of Machen's masterwork. This book is an outstanding example of careful, patient scholarship that received high praise when it was first published and continues today to demand attention." - R Scott Clark

"J Gresham Machen not only believed, practised, and proclaimed Paul's gospel, he was also able to defend its authenticity at the highest scholarly level. Because 'The Origin of Paul's Religion' penetrates to the heart of the matter it continues to speak to contemporary controversies over the nature of the gospel and the Christian faith." - Sinclair Ferguson Reviews
J Gresham Machen produced an amazing response to liberal scholarship surrounding the topic of the origin of Christianity in the lectures contained in The Origin of Paul's Religion. Machen meets scholars on their level to refute mistaken notions about the origin of Christianity; he is thorough, well read, and clear in his arguments. As far as relevancy, Machen's lectures may as well have been delivered last year. Machen delivers a stirring apologetic supporting the supernatural origin of the religion of Paul, and in turn Christianity. The church will always be under attack and we must be grateful for men like J. Gresham Machen who have defended it to the end.
One of Machen's more academic works as a biblical scholar. This is a thorough treatment of Pauline theology in response to modernist biblical studies (higher criticism, comparative religion, etc.). Thesis: the "origin" of Paul's religion consists in the historical facts constituting the redemptive gospel of Jesus Christ. He refutes modernist interpretations of Paul that cast him the light of naturalistic comparatives on the one hand, and moralistic spiritualism on the other. Rather, Machen argues, through the variety of his ministry, Paul preached the revealed and properly supernatural message of Christ crucified, died, buried, resurrected and ascended for the redemption of all those who are united to Christ and his righteousness through faith. This work is significant as a defense of historic Protestantism equally as engaged in biblical scholarship as the contemporary modernists in Germany and elsewhere.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

NT Greek

You can find an introduction to the revised version of Machen's NT Greek Primer here.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Hart on Machen and Culture

An essay by Daryl Hart on J. Gresham Machen and the Problem of Christian Civilization in America can be found here. Machen on culture can be found here.

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Need of Regeneration

As editor of THE PRESBYTERIAN GUARDIAN Machen would provide a regular page under the heading "The Changing Scene and the Unchanging Word" with the text “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”-lsa. 40:8.

June 01, 1936 issue Vol. 2 – 5 of THE PRESBYTERIAN GUARDIAN

The Need of Regeneration

This article will appear at Just about the time when very momentous events will be taking place in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Anything that it may say about the situation in that church may, therefore, at the time when THE PRESBYTERIAN GUARDIAN comes into the hands of its readers, seem to be out of date.
Yet at least one thing is already clear. It is that the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. is profoundly corrupt. That fact would not be obscured in the slightest, in the eyes of any really well-informed observer, even by a decision of the General Assembly, in the pending judicial and administrative cases, against the 1934 General Assembly’s Mandate and in favor of the members of the Independent Board and the Rev. John J. DeWaard and the Rev. Arthur F. Perkins.
It must be remembered that the 1934 Mandate is not only contrary to the Constitution of the church.
It is also contrary to the contentions of the Modernists themselves, so far as the powers of the General Assembly are concerned. If the Modernists were in the slightest degree consistent, they would declare the 1934 Mandate unconstitutional and would put an abrupt quietus upon the subjection of candidates for the ministry to utterly unconstitutional questions as to their willingness to support the boards and agencies of the church.
But, you see, if the Modernists did come to such a decision, they would do so on quite different grounds from those which operate in the minds of people who are really true to the Bible and to our Standards. The Modernists would be insisting on liberty in the interests of a freedom to undermine the authority of the Bible; people who are true to the Bible and to the Standards are insisting on that liberty in the interests of the Lordship of Jesus Christ as His commands are made known to us in God’s holy Word.
The two positions would be poles apart, and the fact that liberty would be granted to the members of The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions on the Modernists’ ground would not in the slightest exhibit the soundness of the church; on the contrary, it would be only one more indication of the church’s unsoundness.
As a matter of fact, it is extremely unlikely that the Modernists will attain to any such degree of consistency.
Take as an example the Auburn Affrmationists in the Presbytery of Philadelphia. In the Auburn Affrmation these gentlemen protested loudly against what they regarded as a misuse of the power of the General Assembly. Yet now they are breathing out threatening and slaughter against those who appeal against the General Assembly to the Bible and the Constitution of the church. They are going to really extreme lengths to keep out of the ministry and oust from the General Assembly those who will not promise a blanket allegiance to the General Assembly’s shifting programs.
Could anything be more utterly-I almost said more absurdly-inconsistent? So there is liberty in the church for those who undermine the Bible but none for those who believe it and live by it! Consistency is not one of the virtues of those who are now dominating the ecclesiastical machine.
My point is, however, that even if the Modernists now dominating the Permanent Judicial Commission -there are actually four Auburn Affrmationists among the seven ministerial members of that Commission- did muster up enough consistency to give liberty in the church to those who honestly uphold the church’s constitution as well as to those who undermine it, that would not in the slightest indicate that the church would be returning to orthodoxy.
It would still remain true that the machinery of the church is in control of the Modernists and their friends. It would still remain true that the church is exceedingly corrupt.
My own opinion is not only that the church is exceedingly corrupt but that it is hopelessly corrupt.
When I say that, I want to make perfectly clear what I mean. I do not mean that the reform of the church is beyond the power of the Spirit of God. On the contrary, the Spirit of God is all-powerful. He could, if He pleased, regenerate a million people in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in a year or in a month or in a single day. If that many people were regenerated in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., the church could no doubt be reformed.
But what I mean by saying that the church is hopelessly corrupt is that ‘the church cannot be reformed with the Christian resources now in the church. We ought, it is true, to be very slow about trying to look into the heart of the individual man. We ought to be very slow to say: “This man or that man is certainly not a Christian, has certainly not been born again.”
But when the state of the church is taken as a whole, it certainly can be said rather decidedly that great hosts of church-members give little credible evidence of having been born again. There must be regeneration as well as education if the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Is to be reformed.

Conference Videos

Videos from the recent conference on Machen can be viewed here (mp3 audio too):
Michael Horton (Christianity and Liberalism)
Daryl Hart (Perennial Problem)
Joel Kim (Bible)
John Fesko (Gospel)
David VanDrunen (Ethics)
Robert Godfrey (Church)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

By a former student

J. Gresham Machen, Man of God
John P. Galbraith

Most people who know the name J. Gresham Machen think almost exclusively: theologian. That is understandable. He was one of God's great theologians, and he was known widely through his theological writings. Yet, deep as his theology was, it was only the foundation of what the man Machen really was.
It was my inestimable privilege to be a student of his for two and a half years at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, from September 1934 until his death on January 1, 1937. It may be that I, at age 97, am the only one living who knew him as a teacher and in his ministerial calling. It is such a privilege to still have the memories!
It was not Machen the theologian who drew me to Westminster. It was Machen the loving and devoted follower of Jesus his Savior, the one who raised the flag of truth at all costs, who gripped me. His watchword, as it were, was: God's Word is my command. Before I ever entered seminary, what would become a lifelong memory was founded. For Machen, it was not just a Presbyterian conflict in which he had become engaged, but a proclamation of the gospel for the entire world. His positions were, thus, not of his own devising, but the careful exegesis of the Scriptures.
Machen, however, was more than a theologian, more than a devotee of God's Word. He was a quiet, kind, modest, and sociable person. He was of medium height, a little bit overweight, and he always had a sparkle in his eyes. He was attentive to his students and did many fine things for them. Occasionally he would have what he called a "Checker Club" on a Saturday evening in his apartment building, Chancellor Hall, a high-rise a few blocks from the Seminary. He set out games (especially checkers and chess) and bowls of fruit and snacks, and he mixed well with the students. He would say, "Don't be a tightwad!"— hoping that we would be generous to ourselves.
At other times, when he was home over a weekend (he had many preaching engagements), he would send word to our "dormitory," the Gladstone Hotel, that anyone available was welcome to have dinner with him at the fashionable Drake Hotel on Sunday after morning worship. During the football season — he was an avid college-football fan —h e would buy groups of tickets to games at the University of Pennsylvania and distribute them among the students at Westminster.
As a professor, he was careful, clear, and precise in his teaching. When I caught on to how he approached New Testament exegesis, I took every one of his elective exegesis courses that I could. One of his major purposes was to teach us to arrive at the meaning of the text without making unwarranted assumptions. That emphasis fitted well with a famous emphasis of his Old Testament colleague and our professor, Oswald T. Allis: "Gentlemen, respect the silences of Scripture!" Never were we allowed to forget that the text is the Word of God and that the Word of God is what we preach.
Machen also had a built-in means of entertaining students. He was certainly not a curmudgeon, as his enemies declared. If anything, he was a humorist! One could say, even, that he was a stand-up comedian. He had a number of delightful stories that did not use words, but sounds made with his mouth — all told with those sparkling eyes. Being a student of Machen was not all work.
Dr. Machen, to the surprise of many, was an enthusiastic mountain climber, particularly in the Swiss Alps, though also in the Canadian Rockies and in the U.S. He loved the beauty and majesty of the natural world, and was thrilled to stand at the summits of great peaks and glory in what God had made. One of his favorite climbing adventures was Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine. He was horrified, and personally protested, that the mountain would be ruined by the building of a road in the interests of tourists. This was somewhat like his protest against the City of Philadelphia passing a law to forbid pedestrians from crossing intersections in the downtown over against a traffic signal.
He did indeed have his prejudices — such as his disdain for a new translation of the Bible that he believed was not as good as it should be. As a guest preacher at Immanuel Church in Morristown, New Jersey (now Immanuel OPC in Whippany), he began to use the pulpit Bible, saw what translation it was, and set it aside. He then used his own King James Bible.
On a more serious note, he did not try to impose his views on others. When the doctrinal conflict arose in the Presbyterian Church in the USA, he followed the set procedures for addressing his problems to the proper authorities. As the conflict turned toward a decision, some fellow students and I travelled to Trenton to view the conclusion of Machen's trial before the Presbytery of New Brunswick (New Jersey). When he was told to rise, he rose without a word. He was silent as charges were read to him, and then was seated. I could not refrain from thinking of Isaiah 53, which says of Christ, "as a lamb before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." Later, when he had been declared guilty of disturbing the peace and unity of the Church, and the Church had been told that it was the duty of all members to support whatever the Church allowed, he saw that his only way to avoid participating in the false teachings of the PCUSA was to leave it. His course, if his church was going to require him to support unbelief, was to join with others in a new church that would seek to follow the Word of God as the final standard of truth in all things.
Machen stood alone at Trenton, but the next month (June 1936) I had the privilege, with my father, mother, and sister, to stand with him and one hundred and twenty-six others called together through the Presbyterian Constitutional Covenant Union at the New Century Club in Philadelphia. We stood when those desiring to affiliate with a new church were called to rise and be counted as founding members of the Presbyterian Church of America (renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1939). Then, from that group, thirty-four ministers and seventeen elders (including my father) constituted the Church's First General Assembly. Dr. Machen was elected without opposition as the moderator. Machen himself would say, "We became members at last of a true Presbyterian Church." What a memory to have of the man whom God chose to lead us, J. Gresham Machen, man of God.
The author, a retired minister, has served the OPC in many capacities. New Horizons, January, 2011.

Recent Conference 2011

A conference on Machen recently took place at Westminster Seminary in California. The schedule was

“Christianity and Liberalism Today” –Michael S. Horton
“The Perennial Machen” –D.G. Hart
“Machen and the Bible” –Joel. E. Kim
“Machen and the Gospel” –J.V. Fesko
“Machen and Ethics” –David VanDrunen
“Machen, Christianity, and the Church” –W. Robert Godfrey
“Q & A” -Faculty
More here