Liberalism in Hindsight

Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism Then & Now

Reading J. Gresham Machen’s justly famous Christianity and Liberalism one hundred years after it was originally written is eye-opening. Not only does it open up a window into the sometimes forgotten Fundamentalist-Modernist debates of the early twentieth century, but it also reads like a jeremiad, a prophetic glimpse into our own cultural quagmires.

Machen’s deep concern about, and repudiation of, the liberal Christianity of 1923 is eerily prescient, seeing that so many of his concerns are all the more relevant in 2023. Much like re-reading George Orwell’s 1984 or Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading Christianity and Liberalism alerts us to troubling historical trends that too many have taken too lightly. The heterodox and sometimes heretical liberalism of Machen’s day has become even more strident and prevalent in our own. Theology is not exempt from the truism that hindsight is 20/20.

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Marcus Johnson (Ph.D., St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto) is associate rector at St. Mark’s Church, Geneva, Illinois, and professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute. His books include One with Christ; The Incarnation of God; and, with John C. Clark, A Call to Christian Formation.

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