Christianity and Culture

J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) was Professor of New Testament at Princeton Seminary, before leaving in 1929 to establish Westminster Theology Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen was one of the last intellectual defenders of orthodox Christianity in the seemingly triumph of liberalism in the early 20th century.

Originally published in The Princeton Theology Review in 1913, Machen's essay on Christianity and Culture continues to be relevant today.

Writes Machen, "The Church is puzzled by the world’s indifference. She is trying to overcome it by adapting her message to the fashions of the day. But if, instead, before the conflict, she would descend into the secret place of meditation, if by the clear light of the gospel she would seek an answer not merely to the questions of the hour but, first of all, to the eternal problems of the spiritual world, then perhaps, by God’s grace, through His good Spirit, in His good time, she might issue forth once more with power, and an age of doubt might be followed by the dawn of an era of faith." 

Machen was one of the advocates of the Princeton theology, who as a result of ecclesiastical conflict with liberals, carried on conservative Calvinism in America. Machen examined theological liberalism and concluded that the chief rival of Christianity is liberalism. This was due to destructive German theological liberal criticism at the turn of the 19th century. The First World War struck a fatal blow to the liberal design of a civilization maturing and rising higher morally. The old liberal idea that evil was ignorance which could be corrected by education was exposed as false and Christian morality prevailed. 

Machen was no pietist wallflower when it came to social issues. He was strongly involved in the Christian education movement and even appeared before congress as a witness in support of the movement. This is quite a contrast to many Reformed Christian leaders today who take a passive approach to the many problems we see in our culture today.