Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Abiding Truth

Recovering The Past So As To Live In the Present

J. Gresham Machen was one of the great Reformed theologians of the early twentieth century.  He was an American and taught for years at Princeton Seminary.  Towards the latter part of his life he lectured at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.  

Here is his "take" on the widespread decline of interest and belief in Christ in the early twentieth century in the US. 
If the church has failed, it is at least perfectly clear why she has failed.  She has failed because men have been unwilling to preach the gospel of Christ crucified.  Man have trusted for their own salvation and for the hope of the world in the merit of their own self-sacrifice rather than in the one act of sacrifice which was accomplished some nineteen hundred years ago by Jesus Christ. 

That does not mean that men are opposed to Jesus.  On the contrary, they are perfectly ready to admit him into the noble company of those who have sacrificed themselves in a righteous cause.  But such condescension is as far removed as possible from the Christian attitude.  People used to say, "There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin."  They say so no longer.  On the contrary, any man, if only he goes bravely over the top, is now regarded as plenty good enough to pay the price of sin.

Obviously this modern attitude is possible only because men have lost sight of the majesty of Jesus' person.  It is because they regard him as a being altogether like themselves that they can compare their sacrifice with him.  It never seems to dawn upon them that this was no sinful man, but the Lord of glory who died on Calvary  If it did dawn upon them, they would gladly confess, as men used to confess, that one drop of the precious blood of Jesus is worth more, as a ground for the hope of the world, than all the rivers of blood which have flowed upon the battlefields of France.   [J. Gresham Machen, quoted in J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir by Ned B. Stonehouse (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987), p. 301.]
 Gloria in excelsis Deo

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