I’ve joined Tim Challies in reading through a classic book, J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity & Liberalism. I’ve never joined a book club before. This is a new thing for me. You can read my introductory thoughts here.
So far, I haven’t added much to the conversation on Tim’s site; I’ve been more on the sidelines, watching and reading along. But I really love being a part of this community. I’m learning a lot just by listening.
So here are a few thoughts from chapter 1, statements and quotes that caught my attention. While not a lot of summarizations, the following excerpts seemed to catch my eye.
The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from “controversial” matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, 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.
Inevitably the question arises whether the opinions of such men can ever be normative for men of the resent day; in other words, wether first-century religion can ever stand in company with twentieth-century science.
Modern liberalism may be criticized (1) on the grounds that it is un-Christian and (2) on the ground that it is unscientific… Despite the liberal use of liberal use of traditional phraseology modern liberalism not only is a different religion from Christianity but belongs in a totally different class of religions… It is not the Christianity of the New Testament which is in conflict with science, but the supposed Christianity of the modern liberal Church, and that the real city of God, and that city alone, has defences which are capable of warding off the assaults of modern unbelief.
The things that are sometimes thought to be the hardest to defend are also the things that are most worth defending.
The modern world represents in some respects an enormous improvement over the world in which our ancestors lived; but in other respects it exhibits a lamentable decline. The improvement appears in the physical conditions of life, but in the spiritual realm there is a corresponding loss.
The whole development of modern society has tended mightily toward the limitation of the realm of freedom for the individual man.
Chapter One played more of an introductory role in Machen’s book. Only ten pages long, this chapter seemed to pack quite a bit into a small space, outlining the major thesis. I’m fairly certain that I’m going to enjoy the rest of the book.
Do you read the classics? What is your favorite classic book? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.