AGR: Christianity And Liberalism

It was a pleasure to join Chris Gordon recently to talk about one of my favorite books, Christianity and Liberalism. Published in 1923, it became Machen’s most well-known work. In it he lays out briefly but clearly the difference between Christianity as a religion of gracious redemption, in Christ, through faith alone, by grace alone and Liberalism or Modernism, a religion of works devoid of good news. It is, Machen argued, another gospel. Christianity, by contrast, produces good works by the grace of God through the message of the gospel. Though it was published in 1923 it remains remarkably relevant and never has it been more relevant than today. Walter Rauchenbusch, the father of the Social Gospel theology, had died in 1918 but powerful forces, e.g., John D. Rockerfeller, had got behind his program of re-casting the Christian gospel in this-worldly terms. In the years after Rauschenbusch’s death his message would sweep through the mainline churches like a wildfire leaving them burned over, in their own way. It decimated them. It along with the critical (Modernist) approach to Scripture and to the Christian faith, emptied the message of the mainline of any uniquely Christian content. It produced despair because “be better people” is law, not gospel, and it has no power to transform lives to produce new, grateful obedience.

Here is the episode.

AGR is online and on the air:

Daily Broadcast Schedule
7:00 AM and 7 PM on GraceRadio 107.9 FM (Modesto,CA),
4:00 PM on KPRZ 1210 AM (San Diego, CA),
4:00 PM on KPDQ 800 AM (Portland/Salem, OR)
4:00 PM on KRDU 1130 AM (Fresno, CA),
4:30 PM on KARI 550 AM (Northwest WA and Lower Mainland of B.C.)
KVOH out of Zambia into the larger African continent.

7:30 PM (Sundays) on CJFW 103.1 FM Terrace B.C.
8:30 AM and 9:30 PM (Sundays) on CFIS 93.1 FM (Prince George, B.C.)


    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

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    • I have the 2009 edition with the foreword by Carl Trueman and it’s somewhat riddled with highlighting.

  1. Machen’s _Christianity and Liberalism_ was a book that had a profound effect on me when I read it. It–along with the Bible–showed me that the religion I was raised in was at best only tangentially Christian.

  2. An unsung hero largely unknown to the Church at large. Like so many of C.S. Lewis’ writings, the message of Machen’s little book is as relevant and necessary today as in his time. Read it, and then read it again. Thanks, Scott and Chris…

  3. Thank you Scott. This is timely. I am currently re-reading this. I look forward to listing to this podcast.

    Ginger Zagnoli

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