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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Machen on "Accepting Christ" and Church Membership

It has been a great grievance of mine to have been so late in acquiring and gleaning from the writing of such men as Carl F.H. Henry and J. Gresham Machen. For the past year, I have been working on catching up on lost time. This past week, I have been reading Machen's book, What is Faith?, and I came across this blurb that I thought was most fitting to the current situation in the SBC. Amazingingly enough, this was first published in 1925! If what Machen speaks of is so prevalent then, imagine what he would think of our treatment of the gospel, faith, and church membership now! Just this week, my home church, Ninth and O Baptist Church has been working on cleaning up the church rolls, seeking to bring greater integrity to the meaning of church membership. Lest we forget, we have a denomination that has over 8 million people who cannot be found by the FBI, most one would presume at one time "accepted Christ" to use the popular term. Let's pray for change, honesty, humility, and integrity in our churches, and let's take seriously the words of a man who knew the signs of the times - words that speak undeniably relevant today. Consider what Machen had to say:

One of the very greatest evils of present-day religious life, it seems to me, is the reception into the Church of persons who merely repeat a form of words such as “I accept Christ as my personal Saviour,” without giving the slightest evidence to show that they know what such words mean. As a consequence of this practice, hosts of persons are being received into the Church on the basis, as has been well said, of nothing more than a vague admiration for the moral character of Jesus, or else on the basis of a vague purpose in engaging in his humanitarian work. One such person within the Church does more harm to the cause of Christ, I for my part believe, than ten such persons outside; and the whole practice ought to be radically changed. The truth is that the ecclesiastical currency in our day has been sadly debased; Church membership, as well as Church office, no longer means what it ought to mean. In view of such a situation, we ought, I think, to have reality at least; instead of comforting ourselves with columns of church statistics, we ought to face the facts; we out to recall this paper currency and get back to a standard of gold.

- J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith? (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1991), 156.


Blogger justin said...

Tim- Great quote from Machen. This past year I have tried to read more of him, since reading about him in Piper's Conteding for our All.
I would suggest getting the D.G. Hart collected shorter writings. There are some good collections in there.
Thanks for the post.

10/12/2006 12:34:00 PM

Blogger ThunderScot1505 said...

Machen's "Christianity and Liberalism" was life-changing for me. His insight was nothing short of prophetic, in my opinion. I bought about 20 copies and gave them to family at Christmas several years back.

10/12/2006 02:53:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

@ Justin,

You're welcome. Machen is great reading.

@ Thunderscot,

Good idea. That book is relatively inexpensive and should be in every student's library. I wonder if that was on CT's top 50 book list recently published . . .

10/12/2006 10:07:00 PM


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