Machen Day 2017

One of the very greatest evils of present-day religious life, it seems to me, is the reception into the Church of persons who merely repeat a form of words such as “I accept Christ as my personal Saviour,” without giving the slightest evidence to show that they know what such words mean. As a consequence of this practice, hosts of persons are being received into the Church on the basis, as has been well said, of nothing more than a vague admiration for the moral character of Jesus, or else on the basis of a vague purpose of engaging in humanitarian work. One such person within the Church does more harm to the cause of Christ, I for my part believe, than ten such persons outside; and the whole practice ought to be radically changed. The truth is that the ecclesiastical currency in our day has been sadly debased; Church membership, as well as Church office, no longer means what it ought to mean. In view of such a situation, we ought, I think, to have reality at least; instead of comforting ourselves with columns of church statistics, we ought to face the facts; we ought to recall this paper currency and get back to a standard of gold.

To that end, it should, I think, be made much harder than it now is to enter the Church: the confession of faith that is required should be a credible confession; and if it becomes evident upon examination that a candidate has no notion of what he is doing, he should be advised to enter upon a course of instruction before he becomes a member of the Church. Such a course of instruction, moreover, should be conducted not by comparatively untrained laymen, but ordinarily by the ministers; the excellent institution of the catechetical class should be generally revived. Those churches, like the Lutheran bodies in America, which have maintained that institution, have profited enormously by its employment; and their example deserves to be generally followed. (What is Faith? 156-57)

6 thoughts on “Machen Day 2017

  1. the watered baby has to pass the probation of catechism?

    Calvin —“a Christian ought certainly to be sad whenever he sees the Lord’s Supper being corrupted by the reception of the malicious and unworthy. Nevertheless, if it does happen, it is not lawful for him to withdraw from communion and deprive himself of the Supper. Rather he ought always continue to worship God with the others, listen to the Word, and receive the Lord’s Supper as long AS LONG AS HE LIVES IN THAT PLACE.”

    “1 Cor. 11:28 does not command everyone to examine the faults of his neighbors, but says accordingly, ‘Let every man search himself, and then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For whoever comes in an unworthy manner will receive his condemnation. In these words there are two matters to note. The first is, to eat the bread of the Lord in an unworthy manner does not mean having communion with those who are unworthy of it, but not preparing oneself properly by examining if one has faith and repentance. The second is, that when we come to the Lord’s Supper, we ought not begin by examining others, but each should examine himself.”

    Calvin’s Treatises Against the Anabaptists and the Libertines

    Machen, Notes on Galatians, p 178–”You might conceivably be saved by works or you might be saved by faith, but you cannot be saved by both. It is ‘either or’ here not ‘both and’. The Scripture says it is by faith. Therefore it is NOT works.”

    But Machen also writes—“The works which Paul condemns are not the works which James condones,” Gaffin and others in the OPC now quote Machen in favor of the idea that works after faith are faith

    I agree with Cunha (The Emperor’s New Clothes) –Justification is not by works
    before the assurance of justification, and not by works after the assurance of justification


  2. ….”Those churches, like the Lutheran bodies in America, which have maintained that institution, have profited enormously by its employment.”

    I knew it, Machen and all his “warrior children” are all just Lutheran’s.

    Somebody at the Gospel Coalition or the Reformed Forum should write a book on this.


  3. Be careful the way you throw around that “Lutheran” label nowadays. Many of those (the majority, in fact) who have Luther’s name in their denominational title do no justice to the confessional Lutheranism that was predominant in Machen’s day. Nor do they pursue a true catechesis to the young any longer.


  4. Not all warrior children are the same. Some practice “secondary separation” from the pope. Some refuse to be blessed by the pope, for fear that would be blessing the pope. And certainly not all Lutherans are the same.

    Robert Kolb–“The shape of that new life becomes clear through the theology of the cross. For those who have learned no boundaries and delight in finding sure boundaries through some kind of regulations of the law, the theology of the cross puts the whole world at our feet because the whole world is at our Lord’s feet. And following the example of our Lord, we learn that we stoop to lift the world at our feet and hold it, with all its misery, in our arms….Christians help one another to practice the kind of life that does not depend either on temporal success or temporal suffering but depends only on faithful following of the Lord into the lives of those who need us in the course of daily life.” “Is Anybody Home: What To Do When It Seems Like God Isn’t There,” Modern Reformation, July/August 1997

    Gilbert Meilaender, Hearts Set to Obey—“The inability of dialectical Lutheranism to speak of the law as the law of that one God who simply is gracious…. the incipient Marcionism that turns the distinction between law and gospel into a division within God’s own being and thereby makes the normative will of God of purely passing significance…. This dualism is tempted to treat the content of the moral life as a purely secular matter. ..This enables the church to hide from herself the fact that the church no longer has any moral guidance to offer the world.”


  5. Southern Baptists are also worried about debased ecclesiastical currency:

    Before listing these four types, let me attempt once more to define, organizationally, what this classic Southern Baptist Church looked like only a generation ago. The church proudly identified as a Southern Baptist Church. They had the word “Baptist” on the sign. They affiliated at three specific levels of Southern Baptist life and never thought twice about it. They were active in their local association, state convention and national convention. They had no competing affiliations or loyalties. They had Southern Baptist programs and used Southern Baptist literature. Their Pastor was trained at a Southern Baptist seminary. He gave an altar call every Sunday. He shared a Billy Graham style Sinner’s Prayer and invited people to walk the aisle. They knocked on doors to visit church guests and those in the community who had never come to church. They gave roughly ten percent through the Cooperative Program and three percent through their local Baptist Association. If someone asked what kind of church they were, they said, “We are a Southern Baptist Church.”


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