Friday, August 22, 2008

Soldier Worship (Laurence Vance)

Laurence Vance on early 20th century New Testament scholar J. Gresham Machen and his views on imperialism, militarism, and conscription:

Who is J. Gresham Machen and why should we care what he said about imperialism, militarism, and conscription?

John Gresham Machen (1881–1937) was a conservative Presbyterian New Testament scholar who taught at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1906–1929. Because he believed that the seminary had left its historic theological position, Machen left Princeton in 1929 and founded Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, teaching there until his untimely death in 1937.

Machen was widely recognized in his day as one of the most scholarly and zealous defenders of conservative Protestantism. His most enduring works are The Origin of Paul’s Religion (1921), The Virgin Birth of Christ (1930), Christianity and Liberalism (1923), and New Testament Greek for Beginners (1923), all of which are still in print today.

Machen was not a pacifist, and neither was he connected in any way with one of the historic peace churches. He was the epitome of an orthodox, conservative Christian. And that is why we should care about what he said about imperialism, militarism, and conscription. Too many Christians today believe that a conservative Christian should identify politically with the conservative movement, which today generally supports war, militarism, and an aggressive U.S. foreign policy – at least when a Republican president is in charge.

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