What is Claiming Your Devotion?

“…What remains in Christianity when the supernaturalism of the Bible is given up is not Christianity at all.  Liberal Christianity and liberal Judaism, for example, turn out to be exactly alike.  They have the same…fundamental skepticism about God, the same complacency about man, and the same mild admiration for the prophet of Nazareth.  Tolerance has had its perfect work.  The equilibrium has been restored.  The consuming fire of Christianity has burned out, and we have merely the same feeble moralism that was in the world before Christianity took its rise.”

“It is a drab, dreary world – this modern world of which men are so proud.  I for my part feel oppressed when I look out upon it.  I admire, indeed, those who try to hold on with heart to what they have given up with the head; but as for me, any religion that is to claim my devotion must be founded squarely upon truth.  Where shall such a religion be found?”

“At this point, I have a truly revolutionary suggestion to make.  How should it be if we should turn to the Bible for help?  We have turned to everything else, to things ancient and things modern.  Why should we not turn at length to that?  I am indeed aware that the demand I am making is very great.  I am asking you to do nothing else than to reopen the question whether the Bible is true – true, I mean, not only at the periphery but at the central point.  I am not asking you just to extract from the Bible a set of moral commonplaces, vague general principles of religion and ethics that can safely be used, without offending anybody….  No, I am asking you to follow him who came not to bring peace upon the earth but a sword; I am asking you to accept what the Bible itself presents as central.  What that is can surely not be in doubt.  Skeptical historians are here in full agreement with Christians of the most devout type.  Whatever we may think about it, the center of the New Testament is supernatural redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ.  That it is to which I am asking you to have recourse.”

“… Increasingly the great alternative is becoming clear: give Jesus up, confess that his portrait is forever hidden in the mists of pragmatic legend; or else accept him essentially as he is presented to us by the Evangelists and by Paul.”

[Taken from J. Gresham Machen’s baccalaureate address called “The Gospel and the Modern World.”]

shane lems