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The Importance of Christian Scholarship (XIII)

This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State points to the importance of doctrinal teaching and preaching. Exhortation, he says, has unfortunately taken the primary place.

We have been discussing today the uses of Christian scholarship. It is important… for evangelism; it is important, in the second place… for the defence of the faith. But it has still another use. It is important, in the third place, for the building up of the Church.
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American Decadence and the Christian School

Two Reasons for the Christian School

J. Gresham Machen

The Christian school is to be favored for two reasons. In the first place, it is important for American liberty; in the second place, it is important for the propagation of the Christian religion. These two reasons are not equally important; indeed, the latter includes the former as it includes every other legitimate human interest. But I want to speak of these two reasons in turn.

In the first place, then, the Christian school is important for the maintenance of American liberty.

We are witnessing in our day a world-wide attack upon the fundamental principles of civil and religious freedom. In some countries, such as Italy, the attack has been blatant and unashamed; Mussolini despises democracy and does not mind saying so. A similar despotism now prevails in Germany; and in Russia freedom is being crushed out by what is perhaps the most complete and systematic tyranny that the world has ever seen.

But exactly the same tendency that is manifested in extreme form in those countries, is also being manifested, more slowly but none the less surely, in America. It has been given an enormous impetus first by the war and now by the economic depression; but aside from these external stimuli it had its roots in a fundamental deterioration of the American people. Gradually the people has come to value principle less and creature comfort more; increasingly it has come to prefer prosperity to freedom; and even in the field of prosperity it cannot be said that the effect is satisfactory.

The result of this decadence in the American people is seen in the rapid growth of a centralized bureaucracy which is the thing against which the Constitution of the United States was most clearly intended to guard.

This is an excerpt from “The Necessity of the Christian School” by Machen (1933).

The Importance of Christian Scholarship (XII)

This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State expresses confidence that scholars will be raised up to meet the intellectual attacks on the Church.

Let us… pray that God will raise up for us today true defenders of the Christian faith. We are living in the midst of a mighty conflict against the Christian religion. The conflict is carried on with intellectual weapons. Whether we like it or not, there are millions upon millions of our fellow-men who reject Christianity for the simple reason that they do not believe Christianity to be true. What is to be done in such a situation?

We can learn, at this point, a lesson from the past history of the Church. Read more…

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The Importance of Christian Scholarship (XI)

This excerpt from Machen’s Education, Christianity & the State argues that we should not avoid becoming familiar with the arguments against the historic Christian faith, but should become familiar with the arguments for it first.

It is no easy thing to defend the Christian faith against the mighty attack that is being brought against it at the present day. Knowledge of the truth is necessary, and also clear acquaintance with the forces hostile to the truth in modern thought.

At that point, a final objection may arise. Does it not involve a terrible peril to men’s souls to ask them–for example, in their preparation for the ministry–to acquaint themselves with things that are being said against the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?
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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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