Christianity and Liberalism Revisited

Here’s a conference I wish I could attend. Believe it or not, I first discovered J. Gresham Machen’s book Christianity and Liberalism in a catalog for Peter Ruckman’s bookstore in the mid-nineties (see also here and here), but I only read it about two years ago. Growing up I was conscious of my fundamentalist pastor talking about “modernism,” but only had a very vague notion of what that might be. So vague, in fact, I couldn’t then, nor could I now define with any certainty just how much I understood about it then.

It is so important that Christians understand that the most basic and foundational thing about Christianity is not how you live, it is what you believe. This is not a denial of the importance of how you live, just a denial that it is what makes you a Christian. Actually, how you live is the product or fruit of what you believe. If you live the cleanest life in the most loving and charitable way, yet deny the deity of Christ, the trinitarian nature of God, or the virgin birth of Christ, etc., then you are not a Christian. This is what liberalism is, although it is so much more at the same time. It exalts the necessity of works over the necessity of orthodox doctrine. That’s why Machen said liberalism is not another form of Christianity, it is an entirely different religion.

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