Liberalism or Christianity?
by J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)
(A long but excellent read! Speaks directly to the present conflict.)
The attack upon the fundamentals of the Christian faith is not a matter merely of theological seminaries and universities. It is being carried on vigorously by Sunday School "lesson-helps," by the pulpit, and by the religious press. The remedy, therefore, is not to be found in the abolition of theological seminaries, or the abandonment of scientific theology, but rather in a more earnest search after truth and a more loyal devotion to it when once it is found.
At the seminaries and universities, the roots of the great issue are more clearly seen than in the world at large; among students the reassuring employment of traditional phrases is often abandoned, and the advocates of a new religion are not at pains, as they are in the Church at large, to maintain a pretence of conformity with the past. In discussing the attack against the fundamentals of Christianity "from the point of view of colleges and seminaries," therefore, we are simply discussing the root of the matter instead of its mere superficial manifestations. What, at bottom, when the traditional phrases have all been stripped away, is the real meaning of the present revolt against historic Christianity?
That revolt, manifold as are its manifestations, is a fairly unitary phenomenon. It may all be subsumed under the general head of "naturalism"—that is, the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God (in distinction from the ordinary course of nature) in connection with the origin of Christianity. The word "naturalism" is here used in a sense somewhat different from its philosophical meaning. In this non-philosophical sense it describes with fair accuracy the real root of what is called, by a common degradation of an originally noble word, "liberal" religion. What then, in brief, are the teachings of modern liberalism, as over against the teachings of Christianity?
(Thanks Fr. Bob!)