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Machen on Bible Reading in Government Schools

March 20, 2011 1 comment

“I think I am just about as strongly opposed to the reading of the Bible in state-controlled schools as any atheist could be.

“For one thing, the reading of the Bible is very difficult to separate from propaganda about the Bible. I remember, for example, a book of selections from the Bible for school reading, which was placed in my hands some time ago. Whether it is used now I do not know, but it is typical of what will inevitably occur if the Bible is read in public schools. Under the guise of being a book of selections for Bible-reading, it really presupposed the current naturalistic view of the Old Testament Scriptures.

“But even where such errors are avoided, even where the Bible itself is read, and not in one of the mistranslations but in the Authorized Version, the Bible still may be so read as to obscure and even contradict its true message. When, for example, the great and glorious promises of the Bible to the redeemed children of God are read as though they belonged of right to man as man, have we not an attack upon the very heart and core of the Bible’s teaching? What could be more terrible, for example, from the Christian point of view, than the reading of the Lord’s Prayer to non-Christian children, as though they could use it without becoming Christians, as though persons who have never been purchased by the blood of Christ could possibly say to God, ‘Our Father, which art in Heaven’? The truth is that a garbled Bible may be a falsified Bible; and when any hope is held out to lost humanity from the so-called ethical portions of the Bible apart from its great redemptive core, then the Bible is represented as saying the direct opposite of what it really says.

J. Gresham Machen, in “The Necessity of the Christian School”

Also worthwhile from Machen on this topic: Education, Christianity and the State

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Machen: A Forgotten Libertarian

March 15, 2011 4 comments

I was introduced to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church through the writings of J. Gresham Machen. As a graduate student studying economics at Auburn University, I further developed my interest in affinities between conservative theology and good economic analysis. It was during this time that I came across Daniel F. Walker’s article “J. Gresham Machen: A Forgotten Libertarian” published in December 1993 The Freeman, a magazine published by the Foundation for Economic Education. Walker’s piece was a delight as it introduced me to Machen’s social thought and served as a catalyst for me to present a seminar lecture on Machen to the political economy club we had at the Mises Institute when I was a graduate student. Walker begins his essay by quoting a passage from early in Machen’s book Christian Faith in the Modern World.

Everywhere there rises before our eyes the spectre of a society where security, if it is attained at all, will be attained at the expense of freedom, where the security that is attained will be the security of fed beasts in a stable, and where all the high aspirations of humanity will have been crushed by an all-powerful state.

The Christian Faith in the Modern World, by the way, is an excellent accessible introduction to Reformed theology concerning the nature of the Scriptures and the characteristics of God.

J. Gresham Machen: Radical Libertarian

The Acton Institute‘s journal Religion and Liberty has a short essay on Machen as “radically libertarian” in his politics. In Christianity and Liberalism, Machen writes, “Personality can only be developed in the realm of individual choice. And that realm, in the modern state, is being slowly but steadily eradicated.”

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Machen on What the Church Should Do during Economic Depression

Shawn Ritenour’s blog “Foundations of Economics” had a post several weeks ago on Machen’s view of what the Church should do during economic hard times. Machen had contributed to a 1932 American Academy of Political and Social Sciences symposium on the Great Depression, and in that paper he rejected the “materialistic paternalism” of an expansive State. As Prof. Ritenour put it, “Machen’s address to social scientists was also remarkable for its call for the Church to be the Church, meaning the Church was not to be a political lobby or primarily a society for social work. The mission of the Church is what it has been since it was ordained: to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The March 2011 issue of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church journal New Horizons has an article by William Hobbs on Machen’s address: “The Church and Economic Recovery.”

Categories: Church, Economics, State
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