Mere Evangelism- The Stirring of Uneasiness

Do you want to hear the bad news or good news first? Have you ever been asked this question? Are you a good news first or bad news first kind of person? Whichever camp you may fall in, when we share the gospel of Jesus, we have to share the bad news first. Why? Because without the bad news, the good news isn’t good news.

So what’s the bad news? And how does it make the good news good? How can we stir up the uneasy feeling that the bad news creates and prepare people not only for good news, but the best news in all the world? In C.S. Lewis’ words, how can we open wounds so that we can heal them with the gospel? That is the heart of this message, The Stirring of Uneasiness.

J. Gresham Machen, A Biographical Essay

Introduction

Throughout the history of Christianity, certain theologies, ideologies, and philosophies have arisen and threatened the church’s understanding of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. One such theology is the modern liberalism that arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which the main character of this essay describes as “an attempt to solve the problem of historic Christianity’s relation to modern culture.”[1] In an attempt to solve this “problem,” modern liberalism became rooted in naturalism and discarded the supernatural particulars of the Christian message such as the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as mere symbols of the more general aspects of religion.[2]

Modern liberalism taught that the essence of Christianity is to be found in its general ethical principles rather than in the event of the Son of God dying for the sins of His people. Liberalism made its way into many churches, denominations, and seminaries by the dawn of the twentieth century and was threatening to overpower historic Protestantism in its popularity and acceptance. However, church history often demonstrates that when a harmful theology arises, God raises up a voice to expose, correct, and provide clarity for the church. In the early decades of the twentieth century in the United States, that voice was J. Gresham Machen’s.

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