Machen on Doctrine


I posted the following quote on Justin Taylor's blog last month, but I wanted to share it here and use it to start my own little "Machen" category on my site. I've been reading a biography of Machen by D.G. Hart entitled Defending the Faith. It was from Hart that I learned that Machen played tennis. This only endeared him to me all the more. Finally, a theologian to whom I can relate!

I'm also reading and greatly benefiting from Machen's classic book Christianity & Liberalism If you've not yet read it, I hope the following quote whets your appetite. I love the way he defines doctrine here:

The primitive Church was concerned not merely with what Jesus had said, but also, and primarily, with what Jesus had done. The world was to be redeemed through the proclamation of an event. And with the event went the meaning of the event; and the setting forth of the event with the meaning of the event was doctrine. These two elements are always combined in the Christian message. The narration of the facts is history; the narration of the facts with the meaning of the facts is doctrine. "Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried"--that is history. "He loved me and gave Himself for me"--that is doctrine. Such was the Christianity of the primitive Church.
To get acquainted with Machen, John Piper's biographical sermon from 1993 is the perfect place to start. I enjoyed reading it, and also listened to it on my iPod. And this site compiles a large selection of articles and information on Machen as well.

Update: Justin Taylor just emailed me and informed me that Machen was 5'8. He liked tennis and he was short! He's officially my patron saint.


Hey Josh.

Just happened on your blog tonight. I'd love to talk to you about Machen as a card-carrying liberal Christian.

I haven't read him in a couple of years (and I admit that I only read Christianity and Liberalism), but I found him really interested in doctrine, which, frankly, doesn't seem all that "biblical."

I'll post some of my issues with Machen in a few days on my site, but I'd love to see you try to convince a liberal predisposed to seeing Machen as a historical relic that I should be reading him more.

God bless you and sustain your ministry.



I'd really enjoy having that conversation. I look forward to reading your post. And thanks so much for dropping by the site.

God bless!


I've read Hart's biography of Machen recently and I enjoyed it. I really admire Machen's integrity when in difficult circumstances.

I read that you also like Francis Schaeffer. I just read The Great Evangelical Disaster. You might like it.


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