J. Gresham Machen: Heretic (1)

In exclamatory fashion Marc writes:

“Look at J. Gresham Machen, who not only made exceptions for Arminians but for those who denied the virgin birth and those denied plenary inspiration!”

Right. Machen said that the *beliefs* you mentioned are “antichristian,” but he would NOT say if the persons who held such beliefs were antichristian *persons.* What Machen does/did is the complete opposite (totally antithetical) of what God through the Apostle John says we are to think and judge regarding the person and the person’s beliefs (cf. 1 John 4:1-3).

Machen fulminated much against the Liberalism of his day. Said liberals denied such things as plenary inspiration, the virgin birth, and even the deity of Christ. The liberals claimed the belief that “Jesus was God” (i.e., divine), but they believed in a type of pantheism that asserted that every person possesses divinity and that this “divinity” just shines a little brighter in the person of Jesus. Machen saw through this diabolical equivocation but still would not say that these liberals were lost. Machen wrote this in Christianity and Liberalism:

“The greatest menace to the Christian Church today comes not from the enemies outside, but from the enemies within; it comes from the presence within the Church of a type of faith and practice that is anti-Christian to the core.

We are not dealing here with delicate personal questions; we are not presuming to say whether such and such an individual man is a Christian or not. God only can decide such questions; no man can say with assurance whether the attitude of certain individual ‘liberals’ toward Christ is saving faith or not. But one thing is perfectly plain — whether or no liberals are Christians, it is at any rate perfectly clear that liberalism is not Christianity. And that being the case, it is highly undesirable that liberalism and Christianity should continue to be propagated within the bounds of the same organization. A separation between the two parties in the Church is the crying need of the hour” (J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism, pp. 159-160).

Machen is shown the highest respect among many professing Christians and Calvinists. There is hardly anyone who will even slightly criticize the man. He is known and revered as one who would and did not compromise in the face of adversity. Multitudes say Machen was not a compromiser by any stretch even though we just witnessed Machen’s unwillingness to call a damnable heretic a damnable heretic. Machen will not say that the man himself is antichristian. He will just say that the man’s teachings are antichristian.

Like so many after him, there is much compromise and bomastic blustering with no backbone that says the teaching of so and so is damnable heresy, but it’s just too personal and touchy (delicate) of a subject to actually say that a person who is teaching this damnable heresy is actually abiding under the wrath of God (contra Galatians 1:8-9 and 1 John 4:1-5).

Here are quotes that show Machen’s unrighteous suppression of the truth of Christ’s deity (among other truths) in unrighteousness. In Machen we clearly see how a given man or “mighty theologian” may appear to be abiding in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) by speaking strong words about essential gospel doctrine and those denying this doctrine, but then show his true colors as one who did NOT abide in the doctrine of Christ and has thus shown himself to be a minister of Satan deceitfully disguising himself as a true minister of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:12-15). Machen from his book, The Christian view of man:

“That is the reason why the Christian clings to the doctrine of the deity of Christ. He does not approach it as a cold academic matter, but he comes to it as a drowning man lays hold of a plank that may save him from the abyss. No lesser Christ could save us; this Christ alone could save us from eternal death. It is in that way that we are going to approach the things that we hope to deal with in the talks that follow. The doctrine presented in the Bible is not to us just a matter of curious interest; it is not a thing to be relegated to schools or classrooms. It is a matter of tragic import; it is a matter of life or death. Here we stand on the brink of eternity. We are sinners. We deserve God’s wrath and curse. There is hope for us only in what God has told us in His Word. Let us listen to it while there is time” (Machen).

Well from what Machen has already conceded in his other writings one may safely opt for something other than “the plank” (i.e., true Christ); say a fig-tree branch (i.e., false christ). Machen’s plank analogy is an apt description of the false christ that he worships. Machen worships a “christ” who is unable to save *by himself* and has died at least in “some sense” for those who perish in their sins. And thus there is no guarantee that those who do lay hold of the plank will not go over the waterfall and into the abyss along with the plank. Since Machen believes in a salvation conditioned on the “spirtually enabled faith” of the sinner, the drowning man analogy is also apt. For in reality man by nature is a corpse dead in the water and Christ Himself must breath resurrection life into him and deliver him from the abyss.

In his confusion Machen (and probably all the conditionalist Calvinists) thinks that the drowning man must be enabled to meet the condition of laying hold of the plank. If Machen would then say to me:

“Hello. This is an analogy sir and analogies do break down at some point. I am certainly not denying that a man (to change the analogy) is dead in the water and thus must be given resurrection (eternal) life before he can even grab a hold on the plank.”

But then this would be inconsistent I think. For if the man is first given eternal life and an immediate and inevitable result of this is laying hold of Christ, then how can laying hold of Christ be the (instrumental) “condition” of salvation when that salvation had already been unconditionally bestowed before any alleged “condition-meeting” on the part of the sinner had taken place?

Lastly, Machen affirms above that the doctrine of the deity of Christ is a matter of life or death. Really Machen? Now it IS true that it’s a matter of life or death. But this essential truth is suppressed in unrighteousness by Machen when he refuses to say whether or not those who deny Christ’s deity are truly Christian.