Does anybody know how to get 1.5″ left margins in WordPerfect without screwing up the footnotes? Whenever I put 1.5″ margins in, the footnotes do not follow even if I select all. So when I start to drag the margins over (one footnote at a time), if I go to 1.5, then the sentence doesn’t begin on the same line the number is, and I can’t move the number.
All posts in category Thesis
Posted by unknowing on May 10, 2007
I’ve got to deal with Noll’s Scandal in a place somewhere and so I’m thinking about it. I ought to go through his book more carefully, but from what I remember, it was a more respectable form of Douglas Frank’s Less Than Conquerors both in its argument, and acceptance. Which is to say, Mark Noll is cooler than Frank.
I don’t wonder why Frank didn’t make it and Noll did. Frank wants to preach as much as Noll does, but Frank’s preaching is more obvious than Noll’s, and, unfortunately, you can tell pretty well. That is not cool. Also Frank is more condescending and that tends to make a chap look less than intellectual. If you want to seem intellectual, sarcasm and contempt are going to come across like prejudice and bigotry. In the academic world, where seeming is everything, it won’t fly; you can’t seem intellectual that way. Nobody will take you seriously if you make the same poor argument and come across as bigoted and holy. It simply is not cool. So Noll polishes up the argument and gets all the acclaim. That’s tough on Frank, but who likes a cocky maverick anyway? NOT ME!!
Ok, so this guy Noll rolls out the usual suspects: SCSR, dispensationalism and holiness (the movement, the associated theory of sanctification, pentecostalism, all that jazz).
I know SCSR was big, I know it was a mistake, but I just find it awfully ironic that latter day evangelicals knock former day evangelicals for grabbing onto the tail end of the passing fad in academia without bothering to understand it any more carefully than I understand it. Hello modernists. Hello postmodernists. And why never existentialists? How about something a little more timeless? How about an original critique of something for a change instead of the passe truisms of the critics of the former fad (which critics were in the avant guard of the present fad back in the day). And if SCSR weren’t so boring, I’d try to understand it better myself.
I seriously find it irritating that their shallow analysis of dispensationalism always leads them to conclude it makes for cultural disengagement. Well, it makes for cultural disengagement of the kind they are loath to disengage from (the World), but it is a really stupid conceit both of anti-dispensationalists and also of dispensationalists—unfortunately—to find in dispensationalism the logic for failing to take matters of culture seriously (our Father’s cosmos and its enjoyment in subcreation and recreation. Ultimate Re-Creation = New Heaven and New Earth. What could be more refined than the culture of a City that comes down out of Heaven?). With Traherne a dispensationalist may be transported by the Revelations of St. John.
It is all the rage to be Reformed and a Calvinist nowadays, so much so, that one is loath to call oneself anything other than an Arminian and an Anabaptist or a Plain Old Papist just to be set apart. The sanctification of the affections is never in view when one reads the analises of Keswick, Victorious Life Theology, the Holiness movement and all of those things. Let them trash the aberrations, but let them not build caricatures. One has the feeling from conversations tinted by Tozer that what they make out to be one thing, was really another, and that they practice cheap shots at what is not in style.
They can’t look deeper because of their metaphysical dream of the world. They can’t change the thickness of their dream because they would first have to change their loyalties. To change their loyalties they would have to change what they value. But what they value is ordered by their intuition about the immanent nature of reality, and they are not dissatisfied with that intuition. They are dissatisfied with how it works out in practice.
Now, having gotten that out of the way, it is time to see if I remember what Noll actually says.
Posted by unknowing on March 29, 2007
I have compiled a few Popular Notions, along with a bibliography.
One of the remarks on the first draft of my thesis was that I really ought to have something about the definition of culture and popular culture. I like to remember my original proposal, in such moments, when I suggested I research the literature on the definition of culture, elaborate on what culture is and the distinctions within it, show the what popular culture is and its connection with religion, and deal with a specific case, such as Moody.
What I have compiled is nothing near that. It is a way of showing my hand about who is doing the thinking for me and where I am getting the ideas, just to show I am not being altogether eccentric. You have seen this before in bits. If somebody would be so kind as to check it for coherency and suggest if it needs anything, I would be much obliged.
Posted by unknowing on March 7, 2007
J. Heinrichs, in an article called “Fundamentalism and Why We Have It,” explained some of the rationale behind the adoption of the term ‘fundamentalism,’ revisiting and quoting from the famous article by Curtis Lee Laws. Heinrichs’ explanation offers an interesting parallel with the attempts of definition that would arise later.
Should the growing coalition of fundamentalists call themselves the ‘conservatives’? They found this word connoted too much reaction for them. Heinrichs quoted Curtis Lee Laws who made it sound as if there were too many varieties of conservatives with reputations he did not wish to share. ‘Conservatives’ must not have been a term sufficiently allied to a theological position: the next name is taken from theology.
Heinrichs and Laws did not want to call themselves the Premillennialists either. This is significant in that it shows how varied the theological position of the fundamentalists could be. It was not varied in the sense of including heterodoxy, but it could not be reduced to a single characteristic doctrine. Even if fundamentalists were premillennialists in the main, they recognized this single doctrine was not what held them together.
“Landmarkers” was the last term discarded. Laws found it restricted to a group too radical to characterize the fundamentalists, and Heinrichs does not even discuss it. Excluding this last term, however, one can see in these two paragraphs from 1927 the main outlines of the literature written in search for an understanding of fundamentalism since then. Cole and Furniss would look for an explanation that understood fundamentalists as conservatives, making them a reaction to modern ways of life; Sandeen would focus on the premillennial doctrine, bringing doctrine back into consideration as a serious element, but constricting the definition more than should be allowed; and last would come Marsden, giving a definition similar to Heinrichs who said, “Fundamentalism then is an organized endeavor to counteract the alarming spread of modernism in our churches, schools and colleges.”
My thesis is not a revision of the understanding of fundamentalism; It is an attempt to explore something that has been present all along but not sufficiently developed in the literature. Fundamentalism consists of an allegiance to protestant theological orthodoxy, but it is an allegiance that sought a rallying place against the hostilities of theological modernism in popular culture. Popular culture provided a shelter from the encroachment of modernism coming by way of the high culture. Even though they might not have put it in those terms, fundamentalists sensed that the threat of modernism was emanating and being spread by the high culture. Men like Machen wanted to resist it at that level; Men like Bryan and Sunday wanted to resist it from a position more antithetical, pitting orthodoxy against heresy by pitting popular culture against high culture.
Fundamentalists have viewed the notion of a confrontation of cultures with suspicion, partly because the argument was put to them not in terms of theology, but in terms of culture. Modernists like Cole wanted to make the issue an issue of learning and cultivation, an issue of progress, an issue of the advance of civilization. This was a maneuver calculated to privilege the Modernist argument. Fundamentalists believed they stood for orthodox theology and that Modernists, who had a sub-orthodox theology, wanted to obscure or avoid the real issue by arguing about culture and progress.
Both Sides Were Partly Wrong
The Modernists believed the dispositive power of modern culture greater than the determinative power of ancient theology; they went to culture to get their theology; they believed in the rightness of the assumptions of the spirit of the age. They had learned the learning of their times and they believed it to be right, so they wanted to reinterpret Christianity in light of secular culture. They also believed they could see the end of a long and arduous process which with a little effort could be culminated. If only the petty and antiquated concern for mere doctrinal precision could be overcome, the task of filling the world with the Christian spirit of universal brotherhood and global peace would come at last.
Fundamentalists believed the determinative power of theology to be greater than the dispositive power of culture. Theology, for them, was primary and all other concerns secondary. Because of this, theological orthodoxy was the great rudder-setter. Right belief led to right practice so that secondary considerations (questions of practice, questions of culture) could remain mostly unattended. It was enough to look at the deleterious effects a preoccupation with modern culture had on historic Christianity to know that theology was more important than culture.
Both Sides Were Partly Right
The Modernist knew the power of culture to shape hearts and minds. Theology, for them, could not avoid being shaped by culture, it had to be part of the deliberate cultivation that sought to integrate every branch of learning. Culture gave a disposition toward the world, an attitude from which all other considerations were ordered. Orthodoxy alone could not move the Modernists; theology needed the resonance of meaning that culture provides. The crucial refinements of learning could not be neglected without paying a price; and the vitality of culture depended on its attachment to the modern way of life.
The fundamentalist saw a departure from orthodoxy as a betrayal of Christianity. They accused the Modernists of a sort of mysticism, an undisciplined following of mere feeling at the expense of thorough thinking. They knew that right religion must have a shaping and molding influence on culture, instead of being shaped and molded to modern culture. They resisted the impulse to shape religion in the mold of the spirit of the age, to change the charge of the great commission for the goals of alien, secular ideas.
Neither Side Was Right Enough
Because the Modernist urged exclusive attention to the climate of culture, the fundamentalist urged exclusive attention to right theology; both made a mistake with regard to culture. By seizing on modern high culture, the Modernists departed from orthodox religion. In a way, they neglected religion and ended up with a sub-orthodox one. By neglecting matters of culture, the fundamentalists indiscriminately seized a modern, popular culture. To neglect culture means only to have something inferior, to live by indiscriminate choices. Both cultures were dispositive, both proved hostile to orthodoxy, and both resulted in a casual attitude toward doctrine. The Modernists boldly advanced heresy from the centers of culture. The fundamentalists sought shelter for a diminished orthodoxy in the popular culture.
I have shown how William Jennings Bryan betrayed the fundamentalist cause by taking it to the Scopes trial. He cast about fundamentalism the mantle of popularity and battled for theological orthodoxy in a populist way. He could do this because he had the sympathy of the populace and because he commanded the attention of the press. The Scopes trial offered him a venue for a great showdown, which is what Bryan got. His impatience with legal procedure and his desire to triumph with a flourish, as it were, proved the undoing of his cause. His methods were the methods of popular culture.
I have shown how Billy Sunday packed the old-time religion in the packaging of popular culture, bringing revivalism into the twentieth century. He embodied the ideal of the popular imagination, he was on the cutting edge for mass evangelism, and he left a mark that outlived him. If anybody represents orthodoxy clad in the vestment of popular culture, Billy Sunday does. His fundamentalist credentials were unimpeachable–even though his theology may have not have been. Sunday, in fact, preached conversion as a way of improving society, a subtle and not entirely unintentional form of the social gospel.
I have shown J. Gresham Machen’s distaste for the popular culture of fundamentalism. Machen was not unwilling to align himself with theological orthodoxy, but he knew fundamentalism to be more than merely theological orthodoxy; he only counted himself on the side of fundamentalism with reservations. What sets Machen apart, really, is that his thinking with regard to culture is more careful than that the main stream of fundamentalism. He did not want to be casual in matters of culture; he thought Christians should embrace the arts and sciences or risk losing the work of centuries.
Conclusion: Fundamentalism is Hosed
Fundamentalists wanted to defend orthodoxy against modernism. Because they were not careful in thinking how they went about this, because they were reacting to the high culture perceived to be part of the implications of Modernism, the fundamentalists sought to shelter theological orthodoxy in popular culture. Popular culture was like a vestment, like the packaging for their message; it was the means fundamentalists inadvertently seized on to deliver their message, like a soldier sheltering behind any cover at hand to fire in the heat of the battle. Bryan identified with fundamentalism because he was against modernism; Sunday identified with fundamentalism because he was against modernism; and in contrast to these was Machen, who sought for a third way against Modernism.
Posted by unknowing on February 19, 2007
The sense that secular culture threatened Christianity was real. The reason Machen did not want to join himself to the fundamentalists was clear to him already in 1912. He thought it important to engage the debate, to understand the ideas that were changing culture, and to grapple with these ideas rather than ignore them. He loved and cherished Christian doctrine and realized that its defense required careful and long thinking, deep study, broad reading even in the writing of the enemy, and a culture that fostered the sort of investment this kind of learning required. For Machen culture, the labor of culture, was crucial.
This is why Machen wanted seminaries, not Bible schools. His career was a long battle, to keep, to establish, to foster and further the invaluable learning acquired in a seminary. The sort of minimal training and loose denominational association generally part of the Bible school was not sufficient for him. The Bible school was the catalyst for joining the fundamentalist coalition to face the Modernists, which is significant. What the Bible school represented was the sort of thing Machen denounced in his speech in 1912; the Bible school represented an abdication of the greater task of influencing the prevailing climate of opinion at the level of ideas; the Bible school represented the minimum preparation necessary for the most basic level of Christian ministry. The Bible school was deemed sufficient to produce the preachers for fundamentalism. Machen declared that the church was waiting for men of another sort.
If one looks at general tendencies, it is hard to miss the contrast that existed between fundamentalism, as a whole, and what Machen advocated and that for which he worked. . . . ["what Machen advocated and worked for" would be more trenchant, but minds are small] . . . Machen found the name and the movement generally distasteful. His continual objection to the term ‘fundamentalist’ suggests he disliked more than the term. Machen left the distinct impression that he objected to fundamentalism itself in the mind of someone so close to him as Stonehouse. If he was willing to align himself doctrinally with the fundamentalist cause, why did he usually make a point to distinguish himself from it? It was because the point of distinction was more than a nicety in his mind; it was because Machen did not believe Christianity should leave the arts and sciences to the Modernists. He knew the wages of abdicating on the labor of culture would be fatal; he thought fundamentalists were making a serious mistake.
Machen knew that fundamentalism would pay for its inattention to culture. As a result of this inattention, this carelessness where Machen advocated care, fundamentalism ended up borrowing from popular culture, fleeing from the high culture of secularism, seeking shelter for their orthodoxy. Machen wanted none of that shelter, none of that safety, none of the ignoring of the question of the enemy or of the arts and sciences which the enemy had claimed. He wanted to fight, to show that Christianity was equal to the challenge, to consecrate a Christian culture.
Posted by unknowing on February 16, 2007
Machen believed this withdrawing was based on a belief that all human activity is somehow tainted. Fundamentalists had despaired, as it were, in the face of the advancing secularism and had retreated away from it to the only thing they could trust, religion. The only result of this retreat, however, was that they had ceased to think carefully about these crucial human activities; they had stressed the one activity, saving men out of the world, but not saving the world from men also.
For Machen the task was wider: the intellectual atmosphere into which men are born also made a difference and could not be ignored. Both the case for Christianity and the Christian case against secular culture had to be made in order to create a better reception for the gospel. Only darkness could come of a secular culture to dominate the arts and sciences–a darkness that was hostile to Christianity and advantageous for Modernism. “The Christian religion flourishes not in the darkness but in the light. Intellectual slothfulness is but a quack remedy for unbelief; the true remedy is consecration of intellectual powers to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here is the antithesis: on the one hand was the retreating from the careful labor of the mind, on the other was Machen’s call for the church to “battle for her life” in a realm that had been left in neglect far too long already in 1912. He wanted his address to rally the troops, to inspire them to enter the conflict through the rigors of study and arduous thinking. He advocated careful thinking, not hesitation but enthusiasm toward the arts and learning. He advocated answers found in timeless principles, hard won though cultivation and painstaking labor in thought, not easy and profane tricks used to inveigle people into the church.
Posted by unknowing on February 16, 2007
For Machen the relation between Christianity and culture is bound up with the relationship between piety and knowledge. This shows his understanding of the relationship between cultivation and a capacity to learn. Machen believed that the arts and sciences should be engaged in with relish, that culture should be encouraged “with the enthusiasm of the veriest humanist” and consecrated to the service of God. Because Christians want to see every human activity consecrated they must not be content to leave any of it untouched by Christianity; they want to see every legitimate human activity made a Christian activity; but more, they realize that these things are essential to human life. Machen understood that men do not exist without a culture, and culture neglected by Christianity can only result in culture being an enemy of the gospel.
Machen believed that the erosion the church was suffering was due directly to modern culture. Secular culture taught men that the intellectual credentials of Christianity were insubstantial: men did not consider Christianity because its dismissal was a foregone conclusion. Although Machen believed that regeneration was a supernatural work, he wanted to stress was that God uses means and places responsibility on believers individually and on the church as a whole. He believed the situation was desperate because of neglected responsibilities. He believed that the Church must labor in more than just evangelism. If the church ignored the intellectual labor, the labor of culture, “the great current of modern culture will sooner or later engulf her puny eddy. God will save her somehow—out of the depths. But the labor of centuries will have been swept away.”
Some withdrew and dedicated themselves to a smaller and more practical task; this was not the way that Machen chose. The academic battles, the years of careful training, the understanding of philosophy and history that Machen championed are what he has in mind when he says, “So as Christians we should try to mold the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity. . . . The church has no right to be so absorbed in helping the individual that she forgets the world.”
Posted by unknowing on February 15, 2007
Please, I Know That You’re Not Bothering to Read This, Especially Thos of You for Whom I Have Carefully Read Whole Papers, but Will You At Least Read This? Does it Follow?
Machen conceived of indifferentism consisting in an indifference toward doctrine and an unwillingness to tolerate doctrinal controversy. Indifferentism was the tolerance of doctrinal diversity—a position which tended to favor the Modernists, not the fundamentalists. Machen also used the term to describe the Modernists, or referred to them as the “Modernist-indifferentists.” But he usually distinguished between the orthodox indifferentists, and the heterodox Modernist.
Machen cannot have had the indifferentists in mind in 1912 for several reasons. The first is that this term is an attempt to distinguish something which is not in view in his address on Christianity and culture; the indifferentists were guilty of doctrinal indifference, not necessarily cultural indifference. In reading Machen, one finds (save for a passing reference to Erasmus as an indifferentist) that he associates indifferentism with the controversy in which he was personally embroiled a decade later, and especially around the Auburn Affirmation. Before the delivery of Fosdick’s famous sermon in 1922, the controversy in the Presbyterian church was not such as would warrant the distinction.
What Machen probably had in view, was the student rebellion which came to a head in 1909. The tendency of Princeton seminary was toward increasingly academic specialization. The students chafed against this; they wanted something more practical. Machen argued that the difference was a difference in the understanding of what a theological seminary ought to be. Even if Machen did not have fundamentalism in view, his outline of the idea he resisted sounds very much like the purpose statement of a Bible College.
What Machen was ready to point out, however, is that he would side with the fundamentalist before he would side with the modernist. It is in this sense that he is willing to be called a fundamentalist. In fact, in his essay entitled “Does Fundamentalism Obstruct Social Progress,” he begins using the term “Fundamentalism” but soon replaces it with “biblical Christianity” because he is using it in contrast to the views of modernism, and at that level he finds the terms can be interchanged.
Nevertheless Machen considered fundamentalism inadequate to face the challenge of the day because of its ineptitude when it came to matters of culture, which for him were supremely the matters of learning, understanding ideas, and the climate of opinion prevailing in the academy and in society. The last thing that Machen wanted to do was to withdraw from the battle on the most important front, that of learning. The second position that he outlines regarding Christianity and culture is the position of those who are indifferent to culture, the position of fundamentalism.
Posted by unknowing on February 14, 2007
Machen’s attitude toward fundamentalism seems ambivalent. Stonehouse, his biographer, did not see Machen, or believe Machen saw himself as a fundamentalist. Yet several things that Machen wrote show that he was not entirely opposed to fundamentalism. When offered the presidency of a new university which was being established in the memory of William Jennings Bryan, Machen, with great courtesy and explanation, turned it down. His reasoning in the letter can be summed up saying that Machen was a Presbyterian and had little wish for wider allegiances when it came to matters of religion.
Part of his perception of fundamentalism in his day is revealed in this explanation:
I never call myself a “Fundamentalist.” There is, indeed, no inherent objection to the term; and if the disjunction is between “Fundamentalism” and “Modernism,” then I am willing to call myself a Fundamentalist of the most pronounced type. But after all, what I prefer to call myself is not a “Fundamentalist” but a “Calvinist”—that is, an adherent of the Reformed Faith.
In other words, he was willing to be called a fundamentalist when speaking in broad terms; when he wished to be more precise, Machen discarded the term for something that would fit him more closely. Fundamentalism was non-denominational, and part of this ethos was something against which Machen fought. He believed some things transcended denomination, but not many and certainly less than the fundamentalists whom he did not desire to join. Marsden summarizes Machen like this:
J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) was not a typical fundamentalist or evangelical. He belonged to one of the sub-groups, strict Presbyterians loyal to the Old Princeton theology that looked to the Westminster Confession of Faith for its creed. He did not like being called a fundamentalist, he was an intellectual, he was ill-at-ease with the emotionalism and oversimplifications of revival meetings, he opposed church involvement in politics including even the widely popular Prohibition movement, and he declined to join in the antievolution crusade.
The intellectual dimension of Machen’s dissension, which is veiled in the letter quoted before, is not a minor factor, and it comes out in Machen’s differentiation of the positions he surveys in “Chrsitianity and Culture.”
Posted by unknowing on February 14, 2007
Machen called modernism unscientific and complained it was so narrow it begged the question to call it “liberalism.” Those who sided with secularism eschewed the supernatural, choosing the position of theological modernism. Machen did not believe the appearance of theological modernism was an isolated and random event; he believed it was part of a change that was occurring in all the world. It was the result of ideas that were changing the way men thought, and these ideas were coming, in Machen’s day, to change the way men lived.
Modernists realized that secularism made demands of Christianity that had never been made before. Machen believed Christianity was equal to the demands. His disagreement with modernism was that it did not try to make Christianity face the questions, it just capitulated to the prevailing culture. In order to adjust Christianity to the claims of secularism, Modernism stripped and reduced Christianity to a feeling. As a result the definition of Christianity was made vague, which was something Machen would not tolerate, for it only provided the trappings of Christianity without the vital dogma. It was an appeasement, much like the indifferentism of those who were orthodox but wished not to fight over the meaning of words. Machen said, “The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from ‘controversial’ matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life.”
Machen believed that modernism was a different religion and the greatest menace to Christianity in his day. He viewed modernism as a distortion of Christianity that took its marching orders from the ideas of the prevailing secular culture, rather than from the doctrines of the Bible. One may say that theological modernism was the irreligion which was precipitated by the disintegrating culture of modernity.
Posted by unknowing on February 14, 2007
Machen deplored the anti-intellectual tendency that fundamentalism had. Machen was a scholar, and the most scholarly defender of conservative Protestantism in his day. He was this because above all he believed the battle to be an intellectual battle. He believed the church was puzzled over the indifference of the world to Christianity. He attributed the indifference of the world to certain “prior conditions of the human mind,” a climate of opinion in which false ideas were more welcome than the truth. He believed Christians ought to be prepared to address the climate of opinion. What Machen didn’t want to see was the church “adapting the fashions of the day” to allure the indifferent while ignoring the ideas, the spirit of the age which made people indifferent. Rather, he wanted the church to answer the hard questions, to “descend into the secret place of meditation” so that the climate of doubt might be exchanged, by the power of God, into “the dawn of an era of faith.” Here is the essential difference: Machen wanted to think carefully about culture and to refute false ideas. Here is his indictment of the second position:
You can avoid the debate if you choose. You need only drift with the current. Preach every Sunday during your Seminary course, devote the fag ends of your time to study and to thought, study about as you studied in college—and these questions will probably never trouble you. The great questions may easily be avoided. Many preachers are avoiding them. And many preachers are preaching to the air. The Church is waiting for men of another type. Men to fight her battles and solve her problems. The hope of finding them is the one great inspiration of a Seminary’s life. They need not all be men of conspicuous attainments. But they must all be men of thought.
Machen said these things in 1912 to Presbyterians at Princeton. At that point the term ‘fundamentalist’ had not been coined by Curtis Lee Laws nor had the fundamentalist coalition really come together: it was still forming. The question, however, is which of the groups in the church was Machen addressing with these words. There can be no doubt that the trouble in the air, and what would become the Modernist controversy was on Machen’s mind. He cannot have been rallying the modernists. This leaves the group he later came to call ‘indifferentists’ and the people who would be known as the fundamentalists. But were they distinguishable groups then?
Posted by unknowing on February 14, 2007
When it came to diagnosing the great decline of religion in the church, in the home, and in society at large, this is what Machen had to say:
The depreciation of the intellect, with the exaltation in the place of it of the feelings or of the will, is, we think, a basic fact in modern life, which is rapidly leading to a condition in which men neither know anything nor care anything about the doctrinal content of the Christian religion, and in which there is in general a lamentable intellectual decline.
Both modernism, which Machen believed also to be un-Christian and anti-intellectual, and fundamentalism suffered from this malady; they were caused by a failure in learning. “Thus Machen’s scholarship should not only be read strictly as a rejoinder to liberal infidelities or secularization but also as a critique of the Protestant ethos that still dominated American culture . . . the conventional and unthoughtful piety of American Protestantism.”
Posted by unknowing on February 13, 2007
While the Modernist controversy was still gathering steam and would not come to a head till after the First World War, Machen’s speech was given in order to address the situation of encroaching modernism. For Machen, Princeton was crucial since he considered it the last bastion of learned orthodoxy in America. The loss of Princeton, what it stood for, and all its resources and tradition would be inestimable.
Machen listed three positions which may be taken concerning the relationship of Christianity and culture. The third, Machen’s own, will be reserved for the examination of the speech itself. But in order to better understand the situation of the day as Machen understood it, it will be best to explain the two positions he rejects.
When he had finally been persuaded to try a year of seminary at Princeton, he also enrolled in the university to pursue an M. A. in philosophy. While in Europe at the end of WWI he took advantage of being near Paris to attend lectures at the Sorbonne and to become acquainted with the literature and architecture of France. Machen became an accomplished scholar; his scholarly work was recognized and openly admired by at least two of the intellectuals of that day. Walter Lipmann writes:
There is also a reasoned case against the modernists. Fortunately this case has been stated in a little book called Christianity and Liberalism by a man who is both a scholar and a gentleman. The author is Professor J. Gresham Machen of the Princeton Theological Seminary. It is an admirable book. For its acumen, for its saliency, and for its wit this cool and stringent defense of orthodox Protestantism is, I think, the best popular argument produced by either side in the current controversy. We shall do well to listen to Dr. Machen.
Another who expressed admiration for Machen, and who was contemptuous of fundamentalists in general and William Jennings Bryan in particular, was H. L. Mencken. His obituary for Machen shows how greatly he admired the intelligence and learning of Machen. Considering Mencken’s horror of Calvinism, his personal regard for Machen means much.
Posted by unknowing on February 13, 2007
Before becoming a teacher, Machen went to study in Germany. By the time he went, he had decided that he was not suited for the ministry, but he had finished seminary and was pursuing theological studies while wondering to which vocation he would be suited. His liberal professors had provoked questions to which he wanted definite answers. Machen would not simply dismiss what these professors were saying. He had to understand their reasons and know what reasons he had for disagreeing with them. We do not know the exact nature of the questions, but it is probably reasonable to assume they were the questions that modernism raised regarding miracles, the inspiration and reliability of Scripture, and the implications of these questions for Christianity. In short, these questions are the sort of questions that books like The Origin of Paul’s Religion and The Virgin Birth answer and questions which became lifelong concerns for Machen. For Machen they were hard questions and unavoidable questions; they were questions whose answers would require thorough investigation.
Machen received a letter from his mother which he understood to express some misgivings about entertaining the questions he had and pursuing them so doggedly.
This is how the section Stonehouse quotes begins:
What distressed Machen was that those raising the question simply demanded that the question be evaluated thoroughly, while the other side, his mother’s, seemed to him to say that investigating too much would be harmful. However, he could not avoid the question. In a matter that required clear thinking, the appeal of his mother only made the other side seem more attractive. An “obvious attempt to shut off full investigation” would naturally make the inquirer suspicious. Machen goes on to tell his mother that her tactics would not work with him because she raised him to pursue the “inalienable right” of “intellectual liberty.” He has already had the opportunity to find out enough about the question; only a real answer would do. Even though he understands her point of view, he goes on to urge his point of view. What he says about intellectual inquiry is instructive.
In the first place, he contended that the truth would stand up to inquiry. Getting to the bottom of an argument will in no wise harm the right position; understanding both sides of the issue as fully as possible is not going to help the wrong side. Here Machen hinted at some specifics, and they have to do with the higher criticism of the New Testament. If the old views of Scripture are right, Machen argued, then the facts will be on their side; any searching will only turn up more evidence in favor of the right view. Why fear the search for evidence?
In the second place, he said it was a question of history. What actually happened? How, asked Machen, can somebody assert that something happened if they ignore the investigation of the actual events? Intellectual dishonesty, he asserted, is worse than the sin of unbelief; why should truth be avoided as though it were harmful?
Then Machen went on to assure his mother that he has learned from her, before her present departure from those things she inculcated, the necessary qualities that a person who is to pursue intellectual matters requires. How could she try to stifle arguments? It was one thing to try to persuade somebody of one’s point of view, but to prevent that same person from considering the opposing point of view is what really provoked Machen. He accused his mother of viewing the situation “too tragically” more than once in the letter. Stonehouse remarks that the tone of this letter is a departure from the usual.
One may find good instruction in the letter about proper inquiry, calm consideration without fear that the truth is going to suffer, and the importance of making a thorough and patient search into matters; Machen was not interested in having safety at the price of ignorance. All these things are instructive when considering what sort of person Machen was, and also when considering how far he would take an argument. It is clear that in the letter to his mother, Machen was a little miffed. “I have considerably more sense than you think I have,” he wrote.
Mary Machen’s serene reply is amusing, considering the agitated outburst from her son. The first sentence of the second paragraph reads: “My son, my whole life has been a protest against the very position which you suppose me to take.” With this letter she ratifies what Machen wrote about almost thirty years later in the autobiographical essay discussed above. His ability for scholarship was shaped by his mother’s ideas about truth and rigorous enquiry. At the end of the letter she says, “One thing comforts me. Your distrust and disapproval of me have led you to express yourself more freely than you have ever done.”
Here, very early in Machen’s life, we see a love for and a commitment to learning, a fearlessness toward thorough inquiry. These were part of his longing for a culture in which a deep learning could be nurtured. This made up a very important part of the man who delivered the speech on Christianity and culture.
Posted by unknowing on February 13, 2007
By far, the greatest influence on Machen’s view of religion was his parents. Machen describes his father as a man with a wide scope of interests, but above all his father was a reader and lover of books. Now only was Machen’s father a collector of books, he was very particular about the editions he owned. Machen attributes this keenness about book binding to his fathers’ love of beauty which gave him a “desire to have contact with the very best.”
Machen admired his father not only for this learning, but for the deep piety that this love of learning engendered. He remembers his father as a man with a deep and thorough understanding of religion; this was because his father was aware of the good things and the wonders that make up God’s creation. Machen’s father was for him an example of how learning served to cultivate piety; his father showed how these two things went together.
As strong as the influence of his father was, that of his mother was stronger. “Her most marked intellectual characteristic, perhaps, was the catholicity of her tastes.” She was not only a student of poetry who authored a work on Browning, but also an enthusiast of botany and astronomy. From her, Machen believed, he learned to get away from the machinery of modern life, to love the woods, the fields, the mountains and the starry skies. She taught him to love God, “the author of all beauty and all truth.” And Machen tells us that she taught him that the heart of Biblical Christianity is found in the atoning death of Christ. Then Machen writes:
I am glad that in my very early youth I visited my grandfather’s home in Macon, Georgia, where my mother was brought up. Its fragrance and its spaciousness and simplicity were typical of a bygone age, with the passing of which I am convinced that something precious has departed from human life. In both my father and my mother, and their associates whom I saw from time to time, I caught a glimpse of a courtlier, richer life and a broader culture than that which dominates the metallic age in which we are living now. It is a vision that I can never forget. I cannot, indeed, hope to emulate the breadth of education attained by both my parents and successfully emulated especially by my older brother; my own efforts seem utterly puny when compared with such true and spontaneous learning as that. But at least I am glad I have had the vision. It has taught me at least that there are things in heaven and earth never dreamed of in our mechanistic world. Someday there may be a true revival of learning, to take the place of the narrowness of our age; and with that revival of learning there may come, as in the sixteenth century, a rediscovery of the gospel of Christ.
This is a haunting passage. A sensitive reader can perceive the mingled longing, sadness and joy that the scene of his grandfather’s home in Georgia evoked for Machen. His distaste for the mechanical and the metallic–palpable all through this autobiographical piece on the influences that shaped his sensibilities–here finds its highest expression. He longs for an agrarian, secluded and quiet place, he loved for the culture of the South. Along with piety came the humility which allowed him to be grateful, not that he possessed these deep matters and the corresponding learning they serve to cultivate, but that he has been privileged to catch a vision of it. He fervently longed for a return away from the tendency of his catastrophic age, a return to true learning. Why? He wished for a broader way of life, a tranquil and deep approach to this world in order to have true learning, that there might be a rediscovery of the gospel of Christ. He mourned for departed learning and a departed way of life (a culture) because this loss entailed an obscuring of the gospel of Christ.
The importance of culture for learning, and of learning for the proclamation of the gospel gripped Machen more than ever in the year 1912 as he delivered the address at Princeton. Having overcome doubts about both Christianity and vocational ministry, he was identified with the cause of learned Christianity at old school Princeton.
Posted by unknowing on February 12, 2007
Some ideas became very clear to Machen early on, ideas which guided him all through his career. One of these ideas was expressed in an address called “Christianity and Culture” Machen gave at the Philadelphia Ministers’ Association in the spring of 1912 and again at the opening exercises at Princeton seminary that fall. It is a significant speech and one Hart calls “a forthright declaration of the aims of theological education.”
Machen, in contrast to Bryan and to Sunday, never joined himself to the emerging coalition of fundamentalists without some qualifications. Even though he wrote the book that made the best case for the theology of fundamentalism, contrasting Christianity with modernism, Machen was not altogether of the same mind as the fundamentalists. The question is, what set him apart?
Machen was a scholar and teacher by vocation, by temperament, and by inclination. In 1932 he published an article called “Christianity in Conflict,” which is an autobiographical explanation of the views he maintained. In it Machen recounts some of the origin of those ideas for which he stood and for which he became known. This document offers Machen’s insight into the influences he himself believed shaped his thinking and attitude toward matters of religion. Machen was a reflective person who published his thinking in books which won him acclaim and respect. For this reason, when it comes to his explanations of the influences that molded his thinking and his attitudes, his own writing may be considered reliable.
Posted by unknowing on February 12, 2007
The abrupt turning of the tide, the cresting and subsequent waning of Billy Sunday’s popularity and his eventual death in relative obscurity can only be ascribed to a change that marked the transition of an era, for it was not Sunday’s style, his message, or his methods that changed. He continued the same all the way until he died. What changed was the popular appeal; what changed was the sensibility of popular culture.
Sunday could not have held the appeal that he did had he done what he did a generation before or a generation later. Sunday was not a reflective man; he was a busy man, and a successful man, but he was not a theologian or a thinker. Because of this, he was not the sort of man to chart a course, but rather the beneficiary of an opportunity offered to him by the age to which he was born. He lived in an age of anxiety, making war on vice and the encroaching dissolution that modernism threatened. He had no affinities or leanings toward the high culture; his people were those who had been nurtured on the farms in the mid-west; he identified with the hard working capitalists that rose to wealth from poverty, from insignificance to influence, as he had. Sunday stood against theological modernism, and he stood for what was then emerging as fundamentalism–at the height of its popularity.
Sunday was perceived as the voice of orthodoxy because he was the most successful preacher of the old-time gospel message. Moreover, he was on the cutting edge of the methods of modern mass culture and he was good for business; his appeal was chiefly due to the popular culture of this day. The two sermons with which he began his New York campaign reveal the sort of mixture of fundamentalist doctrine and popular culture he achieved. Sunday not only used popular methods, not only had a popular appeal, but also adapted his message to the most popular cause of the day. His orthodoxy was couched in popular culture, and it is not insignificant that both of these were objectionable to the Modernists: they stood at the opposite pole. Sunday was a religious entertainer, the baseball evangelist, which is to say that he was the incarnation of orthodoxy finding shelter in the popular culture.
Posted by unknowing on February 8, 2007
Still more Sunday to come! I might just rename this blog to: The Billy Sunday Memorial Blog.
Posted by unknowing on February 8, 2007
Third, church members were God’s grenadiers because they “Stand ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with every other Christian in this great conflict of God and decency.” It is clear by this point that the causes of the Gospel and of the war to end all wars were becoming conflated. Military illustrations drawn from wars that have been fought all over the world became increasingly military illustrations from the wars of America. Then came the point at which Sunday made clear that he is not accidentally lapsing into an enthusiastic mingling of one cause with the other; he intended to blend these causes, for in his mind they were not separate. Near the end of the sermon he talked about German imperialism, but he began this way:
And in these days when Jesus Christ has raised the banner and they have unfurled the flag, and God is calling and the country is calling, are we going to be less loyal to Christ than to our land? No! No!
I have never said either privately nor in public that I wished the German nation to be blotted off the face of the earth. (Applause) What I did say and what I now repeat is that German Imperialism ought to be blotted of the face of the earth. (Applause).
He ended the sermon standing on the pulpit waving the American flag. His last words to the people were, “All right, go to bed and go to sleep, Woodrow, we are coming!”
This conflation of the war to end all wars and the cause of Christ was not uncharacteristic. It is what the Sunday campaigns did regularly with their mixture of popular song and the gospel message, their mixture of popular sentiment and traditional decency, their mixture of social optimism and Christianity.
Posted by unknowing on February 8, 2007
Second, Christians are grenadiers because they have taken an oath to forsake all for the gospel. Sunday explained how an oath bound the king to throw Daniel in the den of lions; he explained how an oath bound Herod to decapitate John the Baptist; not only marriage but the allegiance of those who volunteer for military service is bound with an oath. All this illustrated the commitment required by an oath. Because Christians have such a commitment, they should accept their duties like soldiers do.
What would carry the Christian through the demands of his duty? Faith. “Faith is Joseph’s brother’s sheaves, falling down in obeisance to Joseph’s sheaves. Faith is David’s sling making the giant bite the dust as he hurls the rock into his bean. (Laughter).”
Posted by unknowing on February 8, 2007