In Case You Missed It: 2023 Winter Conference
Posted On January 19, 2023
On Monday, January 16, we hosted our 2023 Winter Conference, Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism: 100 Years Later, on the RBC campus in Central Florida. Together we reflected on J. Gresham Machen’s life and work, his hope in the power of the gospel, and the implications that his classic book Christianity and Liberalism has for the church today.
Our vice president of academics and professor of theology, Dr. John Tweeddale, opened the conference by examining the many ways Machen served the church as a professor, author, preacher, and churchman. Dr. Tweeddale also reminded us of the church’s duty to defend the gospel and hold fast to the Word of God.
“Jesus builds His church, not because of us but often in spite of us, even as He uses the feeble efforts of His people.” —Dr. John Tweeddale
Next, our president, Dr. Stephen Nichols, spoke on Machen’s classic book and the importance of biblical doctrine for the Christian life. He also examined the historical context of Machen’s work and why it is still relevant to the current challenges facing convictional and confessional Christianity.
“At the root of the modern liberal movement is the loss of the consciousness of sin. In its place, there is supreme confidence in human goodness.” —Dr. Stephen Nichols
Members of the RBC faculty then led four respective breakout sessions on several of the experiences and ideas that influenced Machen’s life and work.
Dr. Keith Mathison, our professor of systematic theology, considered classical theism, which was central and foundational to Machen’s thought. He emphasized the importance of the doctrine of God and the need to teach this doctrine in the church.
Our professor of Old Testament, Dr. Ben Shaw, examined select shorter writings from Machen that reveal the breadth of his interests and contributions, including politics, education, and even mountain climbing.
Dr. Christopher Cleveland, our associate professor of Christian thought, spoke about the many ways Machen’s classical education prepared him well for his work as a theologian and churchman.
Our instructor of theology, Levi Bernston, considered Machen’s experience serving with the YMCA during World War I and the impact it had on his life and thought.
In the next main session, Dr. J.V. Fesko, professor of systematic and historical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., looked back to how Machen answered key questions about life and doctrine in order to inform how we might answer these same questions today.
“Machen recognized that in every age, false theologies are competing for the pulpits in our churches.” —Dr. J.V. Fesko
Next, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, vice-chairman and teaching fellow at Ligonier Ministries, explored Machen’s friendship with John Murray, the final weeks of his life, and the weight and beauty of Machen’s final theological confession, “So thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.”
“We rejoice not because we have done enough but because Christ has done enough.” —Dr. Sinclair Ferguson
In our closing session, Drs. Ferguson, Fesko, Nichols, and Tweeddale engaged in a Q&A session on the life and ministry of Machen. Together, they answered questions about Machen’s personal life, the implications his work has for the Christian life, tools for discipleship, and more.
Many of the sessions from our Winter Conference were livestreamed, and you can watch the recording of each stream on our YouTube channel. Subscribe today to find messages from other RBC events. For more information about RBC, visit ReformationBibleCollege.org.