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Category: Mike Scruggs' Column

Christianity and Liberalism are two different religions

J. Gresham Machen - Author of Christianity and Liberalism
J. Gresham Machen - Author of Christianity and Liberalism

On December 19, 2019, the once conservative evangelical magazine Christianity Today (CT) headlined an editorial written by its retiring chief editor, Mark Galli:

“Trump Should Be Removed from Office”

CT was founded by Billy Graham in 1956.  Long ago, I once subscribed to it but found after several years that it was becoming a “liberal” magazine increasingly distinct from traditional evangelical positions faithful to Scripture. As CT became more secularized in its Biblical interpretations, it also leaned increasingly toward the latest fashions of liberal politics. According to Wikipedia, another leftward drifting organization, CT reputedly has a circulation of 130,000. In Galli’s editorial, he implied that President Trump did not fit the ethical standard of CT founder Billy Graham.

A central point of Galli’s editorial reflected a profound ignorance of presidential responsibility and authority to protect national security and the fiscal integrity of its foreign policy:

“But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents”

It also reflected an ignorance of Joe Biden and his blatant interference in Ukrainian politics to protect his son from an investigation involving millions of dollars of corrupt political influence.  Galli’s points essentially represented the absurd talking points of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and a thoroughly corrupted and partisan Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, who were attempting a presidential coup by dishonest and unfair means. Among Galli’s closing words were:

To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence.

The next day, however, Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham and one of the nation’s foremost conservative evangelical leaders quickly reacted on Facebook:

“My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump,…He believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation… Since they invoked my father’s name (I suppose to try to bring legitimacy to their statements), I feel it is important for me to respond.”

Christianity Today’s Scriptural and political drift to the fashionable secular humanist world view that dominates American media, education, and culture is only a part of the nation’s widespread and tragic undermining of its spiritual, cultural, and moral heritage.

In 1923, J. Gresham Machen, a scholarly Presbyterian evangelical, published a short book entitled: Christianity and Liberalism. His principal assertion was that Christianity and Liberalism were two separate religions. Machen was addressing issues of Biblical truth and interpretation, but departures from Biblical truth have frequently manifested themselves in left-liberal social ideology and politics. In its early days, CT once listed Christianity and Liberalism as one of the 100 most influential Christian books of the Twentieth Century. Yet in recent decades, CT became an example of the secular seduction that has plagued many evangelical institutions, dramatically illustrated by Galli’s recent editorial example.

Machen was also a co-founder of Westminster Theological Seminary. Kevin Halloran recently gave a succinct description of Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism:

 “Machen dissects liberal views of doctrine, God and man, the Bible, Christ, salvation, and the church. In doing so, he destroys liberal thought with Scripture and logic while calling all men to true faith in the Savior and biblical faithfulness.”

Many of Machen’s struggles to preserve the truth and authority of Scripture were also reflected in Harold Lindsell’s 1976 book: The Battle for the Bible.

Reviewing some of Machen’s better known quotes is an excellent way to review the principle threat to the health and advancement of Biblical Christianity in the United States and much of Western Europe. But mark in bold that Biblical Christianity is always under threat of heresies and deadly dilution, and its leaders bear divine command for holding to Scriptural doctrinal standards. Here are 12 of many penetrating observations by Machen:  

“The chief modern rival of Christianity is “liberalism.” An examination of the teachings of liberalism in comparison with those of Christianity will show that at every point the two movements are in direct opposition.”

“The liberal doctrine of God and the liberal doctrine of man are both diametrically opposite to the Christian view.”

“Christ died”–that is history; “Christ died for our sins”–that is doctrine. Without these two elements, joined in an absolutely indissoluble union, there is no Christianity.”

“It is not the Bible doctrine of the atonement which is difficult to understand—what are really incomprehensible are the elaborate modern efforts to get rid of the Bible doctrine in the interests of human pride.”

“The things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.”

“It is impossible to be a true soldier of Jesus Christ and not fight.”

“Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the gospel.”

“Again, men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end ... It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of the truth.”

“The many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in naturalism–that is, in the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God (as distinguished from the ordinary course of nature) in connection with the origin of Christianity.”

“What the liberal theologian has retained after abandoning to the enemy one Christian doctrine after another is not Christianity at all, but a religion which is so entirely different from Christianity as to belong in a distinct category.”

“It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men.”

“The greatest menace to the Christian Church to-day comes not from the enemies outside, but from the enemies within; it comes from the presence within the Church of a type of faith and practice that is anti-Christian to the core.”

Galli denies in his Christianity Today editorial misrepresenting and slandering President Trump and fully buying into an atrociously false narrative perpetrated by Democrat Party leaders that CT has drifted from its original evangelical moorings. However, their political drift to the Left has been obvious for years. Galli’s editorial simply exposes the disturbing degree of its terrible political allegiance. The greater concern is that many conservative denominations and institutions are being misguided and seduced by the lure of approval by an increasingly debased culture and its dishonest politics.

   

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