There must be a renewal of Christian education. The rejection of Christianity is due to various causes, but a very potent cause is simple ignorance.
In countless cases, Christianity is rejected simply because people have not the slightest notion of what Christianity is. An outstanding fact of recent church history is the appalling growth of ignorance in the church.
It must be remedied primarily by the renewal of Christian education in the family, but also by the use of whatever other educational agencies the church can find. Christian education is the chief business of the hour for every earnest Christian. Christianity cannot subsist unless people know what Christianity is, and the fair and logical thing is to learn what Christianity is—not from its opponents, but from those who themselves are Christians.
That method of procedure would be the only fair method in the case of any movement. But it is still more appropriate in the case of a movement such as Christianity, which has laid the foundation of all that we hold most dear. People have abundant opportunity today to learn what can be said against Christianity; it is only fair that they should also learn something about the thing that is being attacked.
The present is a time not for ease or pleasure, but for earnest and prayerful work. A terrible crisis unquestionably has arisen in the church. In the ministry of evangelical churches are to be found hosts of those who reject the Gospel of Christ. The church, it is now apparently supposed, has been educated almost to the point where the shackles of the Bible can be cast away and the doctrine of the cross of Christ can be relegated to the limbo of discarded subtleties.
Yet there is in the Christian life no room for despair. Still, our hopefulness should not be founded on the sand. It should be founded not upon a blind ignorance of the danger, but solely upon the precious promises of God. Laypeople as well as ministers should return in these trying days, with new earnestness, to the study of the Word of God.
If the Word of God is heeded, the Christian battle will be fought both with love and with faithfulness. Party passions and personal animosities will be put away. But on the other hand, even angels from Heaven will be rejected if they preach a Gospel different from the blessed Gospel of the cross. Every person must decide upon which side he will stand. God grant that we may decide aright!
J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) was an apologist, theologian and educator. He served as an instructor at Princeton Theological Seminary, in Princeton, New Jersey, as president of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and as the first moderator of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Adapted from “Christianity and Liberalism,” by J. Gresham Machen, published in 1923 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Work is in the public domain.