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J. Gresham Machen

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J. Gresham Machen

J. Gresham Machen

Alexis Pietrowski


Elliot Adams


J. Gresham Machen


Birthplace and Early Education

John Hopkins University and Studying Abroad in Germany

Professor at Princeton Seminary and Liberalism

Founding of Westminster Seminary and Orthodox Presbyterian Church

Thought and Philosophy

Importance of the Christian Family

Importance of the Church

Salvation and Faith

Impact on Society

Defending Christianity from Modernism

Loss of Friends

Westminster Seminary and School Growth

J. Gresham Machen

John Gresham Machen was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 28th 1881 to parents Arthur Webster and Mary Hones Gresham. From an early age Machen was taught lessons of the bible and of Jesus. His family attended a Presbyterian church called Franklyn Street Presbyterian. (Wikipedia) Machen’s father was a lawyer and therefore Machen was considered to be brought up in a rather privileged home. He attendee a private college where he was educated in classics such a Greek and Latin.

Machen began his education at John Hopkins University in 1898 where he majored in Classics. In college he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity and was also a member of academic societies. After graduation he began studying theology at Princeton Seminary while also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Philosophy at Princeton University. (Haykin) In 1905, Machen studied theology abroad in Germany. “His time in Germany and his engagement with Modernist theologians led him to reject the movement and embrace conservative Reformed theology more firmly than before.

(Wikipedia) In early 1906 Machen began teaching Ned Testament Theology at Princeton Seminary as a general instructor. It was in 1915 that he was named Assistant New testament Professor. Interestingly, during WW1, Machen traveled to France with the YMCA where he did volunteer work near the front line of battle. After the war, Machen returned to his post as ‘New Testament Scholar’ at Princeton Seminary. During this time he gained a reputation as being a strong opponent to Modernism and Liberal theology. In 1921 Machen wrote The Origin of Paul’s Religion, a work that defended that Paul was a firm follower of Jesus. Modernists tried to originate his religion to that of Greek Philosophy instead of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity and Liberalism was yet another of Machen’s works that criticized modernism. However, Machen never identified himself as a fundamentalist because he would not embrace things such as premillennialism and the anti-intellectual attitude of traditional fundamentals.(Piper)

In 1929, Princeton Seminary was beginning to sway toward liberal theology, which Machen opposed. In response to the changes at Princeton, Machen went on to found Westminster Theology Seminary in order to continue reformed orthodox theology. Later, in 1933, Machen , along with seven others, were suspended from the Presbyterian ministry. They went on to leave the Northern Presbyterian Church and founded the Orthodox Presbyterian church. Only a few years later, in 1937, Machen died at age 56. even though he died rather young, Machen helped shape the conservative movement against Modernists without being a true fundamentalist. His books, sugh as his textbook on New Testament Greek, are still used today in modern seminaries. (Haykin)

Machen’s thoughts about society and Christianity can be found in many of his own books. The book I found most useful was entitled What is Faith?. Unlike fundamentalists, Machen believed that education was highly important in society; yet, he still thought that the most significant part of Christianity was not throught the church or school. In the introduction of what is Faith? Machen explains:

“The most important Christian educational institution is not the pulpit or even the school, important as these institutions are; but is the Christian family. And that tinstitution has to a very large extent ceased to do its work. Where did those of us who have reached the middle of life really get

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