I am in the middle of my summer vacation and, with the help of a few rainy days, I have been reading quite a bit. It has been very fun! I thought I would pass along and update on what has been going on.
I (finally) finished Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. Very good. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was winner of the EPCA Book of the Year.
C. S. Lewis wrote the introduction to one edition of Athanasius’ On the Incarnation. In that introduction he draws attention to the value of reading old books. He says:
“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.”
With that in mind, I regularly try to read “old, dead guys” as a friend of mine puts it. So I picked up my copy of J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923). I have barely been able to put it down! Machen was professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He wrote a textbook for New Testament Greek (which was the textbook for my undergraduate Greek course). He was one of the central figures in the Fundamentalist–Modernist controversy in the opening decades of the 20th century. I will be adding snippets from the book in future posts as well as some biographical information on Machen and some historical background to the Fundamentalist–Modernist controversy. Should be fun!
I also plan on re-reading D.G. Hart’s That Old Time Religion in Modern America: Evangelical Protestantism in the Twentieth Century (Lanham, MD: Ivan R Dee, 2003). This was one of the seven textbooks I had to read for my American Church History course. I thought it was great then and would be good to read along with Machen.
I am also working my way through Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011). [Professor Allison is very much alive, by the way… I didn’t want you to think I included him among the “dead guys” mentioned above.]
I am also doing an in-depth study of two New Testament books. I am studying the book of Acts (I started a series of reflections on Acts…those will resume in the coming weeks), and the letter of Paul to the Galatians. [Coincidentally, while both of those New Testament books are the living Word of God and are inspired scripture, both of the human authors are “dead guys”.]
I leave you with a quote from the aforementioned Machen from a different work of his, along with some Bible verses to reflect on as well:
“It is a strange thing that when men talk about the love of God, they show by every word that they utter that they have no conception at all of the depths of God’s love. If you want to find an instance of true gratitude for the infinite grace of God, do not go to those who think of God’s love as something that cost nothing, but go rather to those who in agony of soul have faced the awful fact of the guilt of sin, and then have come to know with a trembling wonder that the miracle of all miracles has been accomplished, and that the eternal Son has died in their stead”
(J. Gresham Machen, Selected Shorter Writings [ed. D. G. Hart; Phillipsburg: P&R, 2004], 32).
“But God proves his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Therefore, since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:8–9 AT).
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us” (1 John 3:16 NLT).
“… God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [“atoning sacrifice” TNIV, NRSV] for our sins” (1 John 4:8–10 ESV).
Image credit: Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals