Machen and Orthodoxy

One of the blogs that I visit and read is Geneva Redux. It is written by a young man by the name of Dan Borvan. Dan is a student at Westminster Theological Seminary in California and is an ordained minister in the United Reform Church.

Dan writes about many things and will typically include a quote from J. Gresham Machen. Machen was a Presbyterian theologian who opposed the liberalization of Princeton Seminary and helped start Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Westminster is a seminary I have always appreciated because of its urban ministry department and teaching staff.

Today’s Geneva Redux post was pretty interesting. It is an extended Machen quote in which Machen talks about the different ways that Christians identify themselves, not denominationally, but by whether they are Fundamentalist, Conservative, Evangelical or Modernist (he wrote this in 1935). The categories “Emergent” and “Missional” could be added to the mix today. I think that’s why the article was of interest to me. We are still categorizing ourselves.

Machen makes a strong case for preferring the designation of Orthodox. In the concluding two paragraphs of the quote, Machen says,

“Therefore, in view of the objections that face the use of other terminology, I think we might do far worse than revive the good old word “orthodoxy” as a designation of our position.

‘Orthodoxy’ means, as we have seen, ‘straight doxy.’  Well, how do we tell whether a thing is straight or not? The answer is plain. By comparing it with a rule or plumb-line. Our rule or plumb-line is the Bible. A thing is ‘orthodox’ if it is in accordance with the Bible. I think we well might revive the word. But whether we revive the word or not, we certainly ought to hold to the thing that is designated by the word.”

I like that.

You can read the entire quote here.

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