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Machen on Modernism - and Postmodernism

Ambiguity is in. Clarity is out. Subtlety is in. Boldness is out. Subversive theology is in. Overt declarations of truth-claims are out. And some people see this as a new thing. This is how Christianity should engage culture in the postmodern matrix - with ambiguity, subtletly, subversiveness.

But that's not so new - J. Gresham Machen was battling the same thing when modernism waged war against orthodoxy in the early twentieth century. I've read this quote in two different sources in the past twenty-four hours (Piper's Contending for Our All and Armstrong's Reforming Pastoral Ministry), which made me want to share it:

"This temper of mind is hostile to precise definitions. Indeed nothing makes a man more unpopular in the controversies of the present day than an insistence upon definitions of terms . . . . Men discourse very eloquently today upon such subjets as God, religion, Christianity, atonement, redemption, faith; but they are greatly incensed when they are asked to tell in simple language what they mean by these terms."

What a great reminder that (1) there is nothing new under the sun and (2) that it is by the "open statement of the truth" that we commend ourselves as the ambassadors of Christ (see 2 Cor. 4:2).

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