This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State deals with the necessity of an active and counter-cultural defense of the faith.
…Christian scholarship is also necessary… for the defence of the faith…. There are, indeed, those who tell us that no defence of the faith is necessary. “The Bible needs no defence,” they say; “let us not be forever defending Christianity, but instead let us go forth joyously to propagate Christianity.” But I have observed one curious fact–when men talk thus about propagating Christianity without defending it, the thing that they are propagating is pretty sure not to be Christianity at all.
They are propagating an anti-intellectualistic, non-doctrinal Modernism; and the reason why it requires no defence is simply that it is so completely in accord with the current of the age. It causes no more disturbance than does a chip that floats downward with a stream. In order to be an adherent of it, a man does not need to resist anything at all; he needs only to drift, and automatically his Modernism will be of the most approved and popular kind. One thing needs always to be remembered in the Christian Church–true Christianity, now as always, is radically contrary to the natural man, and it cannot possibly be maintained without a constant struggle. A chip that floats downwards with the current is always at peace; but around every rock the waters foam and rage. Show me a professing Christian of whom all men speak well, and I will show you a man who is probably unfaithful to his Lord. (J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity & the State, p. 23)
This post is the fifth of a series of excerpts from chapter 2 of J. Gresham Machen’s book Education, Christianity & the State, “The Importance of Christian Scholarship.” This chapter is a compilation of addresses given at the Bible League meetings in Westminster, London, on June 17, 1932. Page references are from the 1987 Trinity Foundation edition of this book.