Editorial -- By: Robert W. Yarbrough
TrinJ 22:2 (Fall 01) p. 153
What is an evangelical? Numerous answers are given to this deceptively easy question. Evangelical theologians have often been accused of drawing their convictions, not primarily from Scripture or historic Christianity, but from discredited intellectual or social trends. In the case of J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937) it has been argued that Southern culture and Scottish Common Sense Realism are major explanatory factors accounting for his outlook and actions. Machen’s roots are not unimportant for an institution like Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, whose existence and convictions are in some ways extensions of Machen’s approach to the Bible, history, church, and culture. William Moore’s article on Machen takes up this issue. Interacting with claims by Bradley J. Longfield and George Marsden, among others, Moore delves into an underutilized trove of primary sources to shed new light on the progression—and foundation—of Machen’s faith and practice. Moore agrees that philosophical orientation and cultural upbringing are integral to understanding Machen. But even more fundamental, he argues, are the biblical texts and theological convictions, cited consistently and trenchantly in his numerous and rarely studied book reviews, that Machen saw as the source of ultimate truth and life. Final historiographical parameters on a subject as rich as Machen cannot be established in a single journal article. But Moore succeeds at showing why caution is advised in understanding Machen facilely as a product of uncritical appropriation of a naive hermeneutic and conservative social orientation.
In his day Machen found it necessary to speak out against voices on all sides seeking to adjust, if not dismantle, the historic Christian gospel of Christ’s cross and resurrection. In this issue’s second article, Gary Habermas shows that the need continues for us to “test
TrinJ 22:2 (Fall 01) p. 154
the spirits” (1 John 4:1) when it comes to the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection. Old theories alleged to “explain” the NT’s resurrection narratives are being revived on a broad scale. This is disappointing because, as Habermas shows, a few decades ago there was consensus that such lame hypotheses as the swoon theory or hallucination view had no place in intellectually serious historical reasoning. Yet they are making a comeback today. Habermas equips us to be informed and ready when they crop up in our spheres of ministry and discussion.
In a sense, the saying is true that knowledge is power. Undergirded by knowledge of current attempts to defuse the gospel’s incendiary resurrection claims, we can find the power to s...
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