“In many respects, [Machen] was far from a typical fundamentalist. Like Warfield, he opposed faith healing, revivalism, Holiness teaching, Pentecostalism, and any form of Christian doctrine or practice that smacked of anti-intellectualism. Politically, he was a libertarian who belonged to the Democratic Party. He believed that the very idea of Christian America was a terrible mistake that undermined the capacity of the churches to be Christian. He opposed most forms of government interference in public life and nearly all forms of church involvement in politics. He therefore opposed Prohibition, military conscription, the registration of aliens, jaywalking laws, child labor laws, and the creation of a federal Department of Education. He also opposed Bible reading in schools and school prayer. He was open to evolutionary theory and refused to join any fundamentalist organization that professed adherence to dispensational theology. He was repulsed by the aesthetic crudeness of fundamentalist preaching, hymnody, and public manners. Revival music especially repelled him.”
-Gary Dorrien, The Remaking of Evangelical Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 35.
I really like Machen. I just wish he was not so anti-dispensationalism, and I would not go so much for the evolutionary theory part. His politics, though conservative, seem radical in an age where government grows larger and larger. The government overregulation largely comes from ideological concoctions of liberal social theory. And he pretty well had it on the question of church and state. I often wonder if the church, in becoming so active in politics and public policy, is not reacting to their former power being stripped from their hands. I think we would all do well to consider seriously the church’s relationship to the state. Instead of embracing the neoevangelical (in the true sense of the word) dream of redeeming culture and America, we should become concerned with “doing church” well. Even if the possibility of an America revival existed, I am not sure the present methods (court battles, abortion protests, pushing prayer back into schools, ten commandment displays, etc.) are the most effective.
And those last two sentences are particularly instructive. There are many, I am sure, who assume that the position I and others take on music, and gospel songs in particular, is a recent invention. Even a cursory glance at the history of evangelicalism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries would show that the position is, in fact, quite old. Let that last sentence just roll around in your head for a while: “Revival music especially repelled him.”