Monday, January 20, 2014

machen on the Jesus of our own making

Gresham Machen was a professor of New Testament at Princeton during the rise of modern liberalism and higher critical thinking.  He was an able apologist for historic Christianity, but was eventually fired for his conservative positions.  He went on to found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Below are quotes from him, as he showed that the "Jesus" of modern theologians was a fiction of their own prejudices.  Rather, the entire Bible presents a complete and consistent portrait of Christ (centering on his work at the Cross), and that we must take or leave Jesus as the Scriptures so present him. 

“The truth is that the life-purpose of Jesus discovered by modern
liberalism is not the life purpose of the real Jesus, but merely
represents those elements in the teaching of Jesus--isolated and
misinterpreted--which happen to agree with the modern program...”
"It is vain, then, to speak of reposing trust in the Person without
believing the message. For trust involves a personal relation between
the one who trusts and him in whom the trust is reposed. And in this
case the personal relation is set up by the blessed theology of the
"The critical process is certainly very difficult, and the suspicion
often arises that the critic is retaining as genuine words of the
historical Jesus only those words which conform to his own
preconceived ideas...  It is not Jesus, then, who is the real
authority, but the modern principle by which the selection within
Jesus' recorded teaching has been made. Certain isolated ethical
principles of the Sermon on the Mount are accepted, not at all because
they are teachings of Jesus, but because they agree with modern
“The Jesus of the New Testament has at least one advantage over the
Jesus of modern reconstruction– He is real. He is not a manufactured
figure suitable as a point of support for ethical maxims, but a
genuine Person whom a man can love. Men have loved Him through all the Christian centuries. And the strange thing is that despite all the
efforts to remove Him from the pages of history, there are those who
love Him still.”   [Excerpts above from Christianity and Liberalism]
“That view of the Cross, it cannot be denied, runs counter to the mind
of the natural man. It is not, indeed, complicated or obscure; on the
contrary it is so simple that a child can understand, and what is
really obscure is the manifold modern effort to explain the Cross away
in such fashion as to make it more agreeable to human pride.”
(Gresham Machen, What is Faith?)
"If we put what the Bible says about Jesus together, we can even now
have contact with Him.  I am bound to say that there was a time when I was greatly troubled in my faith by the defection of the modern world from Jesus of Nazareth as He is set forth in the Scriptures; but as I observe what is becoming of the world when the contact with Jesus is broken, my faith is no longer so much troubled by the argument from modern authority, and I have come to wonder whether, after wandering in devious ways, we shall not be forced to come again, as little children, to the Lord Jesus Christ as He is set forth in the Holy Scriptures and offered to us in the gospel."  ("What the Bible Teaches About Jesus", from Selected Shorter Writings by Machen)

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