Machen and the OPC
D. G. Hart
J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) was the principal figure in the founding of the OPC if for no other reason than that the Presbyterian controversy in which he played a crucial role provided the backdrop for the denomination begun in 1936. A distinguished New Testament scholar at Princeton Seminary from 1906 to 1929, Machen defended the historical reliability of the Bible in such works as The Origin of Paul's Religion (1921) and The Virgin Birth of Christ (1930). He emerged as the chief spokesman for Presbyterian conservatives by issuing a devastating critique of Protestant modernism in the popular books Christianity and Liberalism (1923) and What is Faith? (1925). When the northern Presbyterian church (PCUSA) rejected his arguments during the mid-1920s and decided to reorganize Princeton Seminary to create a moderate school, Machen took the lead in founding Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia (1929) where he taught New Testament until his death. His continued opposition during the 1930s to liberalism in his denomination's foreign missions agencies led to the creation of a new organization, The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (1933). The trial, conviction and suspension from the ministry of Independent Board members, including Machen, in 1935 and 1936 provided the rationale for the formation in 1936 of the OPC. Only six months after the new denomination's beginning, Machen died in Bismarck, North Dakota while trying to rally support for the OPC. He was arguably the most important conservative Protestant thinker of the first half of the twentieth century and the guiding light for the first generation of Orthodox Presbyterians.
Resources on Machen
- J. Gresham Machen, "Constraining Love"
- J. Gresham Machen, "The Minister and His Greek Testament"
- J. Gresham Machen, "Mountains and Why We Love Them"
- J. Gresham Machen, "What Is Orthodoxy?"
- John P. Galbraith, "J. Gresham Machen, Man of God"
- John P. Galbraith, "Why the Orthodox Presbyterian Church?"
- D. G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America
- D. G. Hart and John R. Meuther, "J. Gresham Machen and the Regulative Principle"
- D. G. Hart and John R. Muether, "Why Machen Hired Van Til"
- D. G. Hart and John R. Muether, "Turning Points in American Presbyterian History" (series of articles in New Horizons)
- William M. Hobbs, "The Church and Economic Recovery" (analysis of Machen's Nov. 11, 1932 speech before the American Academy of Political and Social Science)
- McKendree R. Langley, "Machen Challenges Experience Theology"
- Robert S. Marsden, The First Ten Years: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church 1936-1946 (excerpt)
- Robert S. Marsden, Twentieth-anniversary address, May 23, 1956
- John R. Muether, "Machen Memoir: Fifty Years Later"
- Stephen J. Nichols, J. Gresham Machen: A Guided Tour of His Life and Work (reviewed by John R. Muether)
- Edwin H. Rian, The Presbyterian Conflict
- Ned B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir
- G. I. Williamson, review of D. G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America