Sunday, April 3, 2011

Machen On Christianity Versus the Soul-Killing Collectivism of the Modern State

J. Gresham Machen, Presbyterian theologian and seminary professor embraced Reformed theology and saw Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, as the Lord of all life, physical and intellectual as well as moral. This led him to derive from Scripture a profound appreciation for personal liberty. He was asked to contribute to the July 1, 1924 issue of Survey Graphic an essay defending conservative Christianity from the charge that it is reactionary and obstructs social progress. In the article he builds his case by explaining that the individual human being has dignity because he is created in the very image of God. He then applies this truth, showing its importance in social theory:
It is true that Christianity as over against certain social tendencies of the present day insists upon rights of the individual souls. We do not deny the fact; on the contrary we glory in it. Christianity, if it be true Christianity, must place itself squarely in opposition to the soul-killing collectivism which is threatening to dominate our social life; it must provide the individual soul with a secret place of refuge from the tyranny of psychological experts; it must fight the great battle for the liberty of the children of God. The rapidly regressing liberty is one of the most striking phenomena of recent years...If liberty is to be preserved against the materialistic paternalism of the modern state, there must be something more than courts and legal guarantees; freedom must be written not merely in the constitution but in the people's heart. And it can be written in the heart, we believe, only as a result of the redeeming work of Christ.

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