“Defending the Faith”

Knowing my interest in politics, the role of the Christian in the world, etc…my pastor loaned me a book called “Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America” by D.G. Hart. I’m still on the first chapter but am greatly enjoying it. Machen seemed to be the type of Christian who would not compromise on his beliefs even with the onslaught of liberalism but yet he was so “fundamentalist” that he could not enjoy and appreciate the more secular things of this world. While he had a very high moral standard, he saw that it was wrong to force this standard on others. He did not advocate that the government enforce the laws and standards of Scripture on all people, Christian and non-Christian. He was, at heart, a libertarian. And a very staunch Christian. This fascinates me. It seems so often at least in the intellectual circles that you get libertarians who are atheists, agnostics, or some watered down version of Christians or you get what I “fondly” (not) call “neo-cons”…the people who want to make America God’s nation and make everyone act like Christians. Neither of these alternatives suit me…so I’m enjoying this biography about a man who did a good job balancing his beliefs and the liberty that all people ought to have to live as they please. For instance, he opposed Prohibition, which led to quite an argument between him and the Christian fundamentalists who would never dream of…gasp!…allowing people to do what they want! And I highly recommend Machen’s “Christianity and Liberalistm”…it is one of those quotable books that you just want to memorize and carry with you always. It is a penetrating analysis of modernism and the ensuing liberalism creeping into the church. By liberalism I don’t mean Democrats and I don’t mean Classical Liberals like Mises. I  mean those who promoted the idea that the Bible isn’t scientifically proven to be correct, that Jesus wasn’t really God, that He was just a good man, that He didn’t really perform miracles, etc…Machen showed that this type of scientific conclusions about the Bible destroy our foundation for faith (Jesus Christ as the Son of God) and without that, there cannot be Christianity.

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