Friday, January 27, 2006

Parting with Tradition

Fundamentalism has greatly--and I mean severely--affected Reformed thinking in America. The Bible--thanks to the fundamentalists--has been reduced to propositional statements about God and most American Christians read their Bibles in an ahistorical fashion. Scholars in this camp have no problem with the study of history per se, but to read the Bible as an historical document is seen as a "liberal" endeavor. But much of the reformed world in America would have no problem allying itself with the great founder of Twentieth-Century reformed thinking, J. Gresham Machen. But what does Machen himself believe?

The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian. The centre and core of the Bible is history. Everything else that the Bible contains is fitted into an historical framework and leads to an historical climax.


Give up history, and you can retain some things. You can retain a belief in God. But philosophical theism has never been a powerful force in the world. You can retain a lofty ethical ideal. But be perfectly clear about one point--you can never retain a gospel. For gospel means 'good news', tidings, information about something that has happened. A gospel independent of history is simply a contradiction in terms.

Could it be any clearer?

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