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The Importance of Christian Scholarship (VIII)

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State argues that revivals are born in controversies, and that “positive preaching” neglects the obvious polemics of the Bible.

Again, men say that instead of engaging in controversy in the Church, we ought to pray to God for a revival; instead of polemics, we ought to have evangelism. Well, what kind of revival do you think that will be? What sort of evangelism is it that is indifferent to the question what evangel is it that is to be preached? Not a revival in the New Testament sense, not the evangelism that Paul meant when he said, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.” No, my friends, there can be no true evangelism which makes common cause with the enemies of the Cross of Christ.
Read more…

Greenville Seminary conference on Old Princeton Seminary

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Greenville, SC, is hosting a conference on Old Princeton Seminary, A Commemoration of Princeton (1812-2012), March 13-15. Many excellent speakers will be giving talks, including:

  • Dr. Tony Curto
  • Dr. James Garretson
  • Dr. Darryl Hart
  • Dr. Paul Helseth
  • Dr. Joseph Pipa
  • Dr. Benjamin Shaw
  • Dr. Carl Trueman
  • Andrew Webb
  • Dr. C.N. Willborn
  • Dr. Fred Zaspel

J. G. Machen fans may be particularly interested in Darryl Hart’s talk Thursday, “Machen and the End of Old Princeton.”

From GPTS’s page:

Praised, maligned, and misunderstood, the effects of Old Princeton Seminary have towered over theological discussion for a century. From the time God raised up this school in 1812 until 1929, the Princeton theologians were the stalwarts of experimental, Calvinistic theology. The founders of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary consciously adopted the Princeton Plan as the foundation of instruction for the seminary. Therefore, it is our pleasure to devote our 2012 Spring Theology Conference (the 200th anniversary of Princeton’s founding) to an assessment of Princeton and the practical lessons for the church today. Our aim is to shape the discussion in a practical way that will benefit all who attend.
‘From 1812 to 1929, Princeton Theological Seminary represented a coherent, continual effort to teach and practice what the Princetonians believed was historic Reformed Christianity… They taught theology as they found it in the Bible, and as they received it from Augustine, Calvin, Turretin, and, especially, the Westminster Standards. Their lives proved that they were not only scholars teaching the faith-they were Christians living it.’
~ David B. Calhoun ~
Be sure to sign up early for this popular annual conference and save. Early Bird registration cut-off is Monday, February 13th, 2012.

The Importance of Christian Scholarship (VII)

This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State argues that defending the truth of the Bible in church controversies is essential to a broader defense of the faith.

[I]f we are to have Christian apologetics, if we are to have a defence of the faith, what kind of defence of the faith should it be?

In the first place, it should be directed not only against the opponents outside the Church but also against the opponents within. The opponents of Holy Scripture do not become less dangerous, but they become far more dangerous, when they are within ecclesiastical walls.

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Categories: Church, Liberal Theo. Tags: ,

The Importance of Christian Scholarship (VI)

This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State deals with the necessity of argumentation in defense of the faith.

Certainly a Christianity that avoids argument is not the Christianity of the New Testament. The New Testament is full of argument in defence of the faith. The Epistles of Paul are full of argument–no one can doubt that. But even the words of Jesus are full of argument in defence of the truth of what Jesus was saying. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Is not that a well-known form of reasoning, which the logicians would put in its proper category? Read more…

The Importance of Christian Scholarship (V)

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. Read more…

The Importance of Christian Scholarship (IV)

This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State deals with the necessity of scholarship in evangelism.

…[I]f salvation depends upon the message in which Christ is offered as Saviour, it is obviously important that we should get the message straight. That is where Christian scholarship comes in. Christian scholarship is important in order that we may tell the story of Jesus and his love straight and full and plain.

At this point, indeed, an objection may arise. Is not the gospel a very simple thing, it may be asked; and will not its simplicity be obscured by too much scholarly research? The objection springs from a false view of what scholarship is; it springs from the notion that scholarship leads a man to be obscure. Exactly the reverse is the case. Ignorance is obscure; but scholarship brings order out of confusion, places things in their logical relations, and makes the message shine forth clear. Read more…

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The Importance of Christian Scholarship (III)

This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State deals with what today would be called “head knowledge” and “heart knowledge.” Machen argues here and in last week’s post that saving faith cannot exist without some modest degree of intellectual understanding of the gospel.

…[I]s this modern anti-intellectualistic view of faith in accordance with the New Testament? Does the New Testament offer a man salvation first, on the basis of a psychological process of conversion or surrender–falsely called faith–and then preach the gospel to him afterwards; or does the New Testament preach the gospel to him first, set forth to him first the facts about Christ and the meaning of His death, and then ask him to accept the One thus presented in order that his soul may be saved?

That question can be answered very simply by an examination of the examples of conversion which the New Testament contains. Read more…

Categories: Church, Education Tags: ,

The Importance of Christian Scholarship (II)

Christian scholarship is necessary to the preacher, and to the man who in whatever way, in public or in private, endeavours to proclaim the gospel to his fellow-men, in at least three ways.

In the first place, it is necessary for evangelism. In saying so, I am perfectly well aware of the fact that I am putting myself squarely in conflict with a method of religious work which is widely prevalent at the present time. Knowledge, the advocates of that method seem to think, is quite unnecessary to faith; at the beginning a man may be a Fundamentalist or a Modernist, he may hold a Christian view or an anti-Christian view of Christ. Never mind; he is to be received, quite apart from his opinions, on the basis of simple faith. Read more…

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Machen on Orthodoxy

In an article in The Presbyterian Guardian, J. Gresham Machen wrote on the problems of terms commonly used to describe the historic Christian faith. Here are a few excerpts:

Many years ago, …some brilliant person said: “Orthodoxy means ‘my doxy’ and heterodoxy means ‘the other man’s doxy’.”

The unknown author of that famous definition–unknown to me at least–may have thought that he was being very learned. Knowing that the Greek word “heteros,” which forms a part of the English word “heterodoxy,” means “other,” he built his famous definition around that one word, and “heterodoxy” became to him “the other man’s doxy.”

Read more…

Machen and Van Til as Segregationists?

When I saw Anthony Bradley’s July 2010 review of Peter Slade’s book Open Friendship in a Closed Society: Mission Mississippi and a Theology of Friendship, I was disturbed by the mention of J. Gresham Machen and Cornelius Van Til as possibly culpable in promoting segregationist churches in the South. Dr. Bradley mentioned “[t]he role of Westminster Seminary’s J. Gresham Machen and Cornelius Van Til in the segregationist churches.” In a comment following another post, Bradley noted, “…as far as I know Machen was a segregationist. He’s not blameworthy on those issues because there have been racist whites in Christians [sic] churches since the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

I did a little looking at Slade’s book, after seeing this at the Hierodule blog from the commenter on Bradley’s post. Here is what Slade actually says about Machen: Read more…

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