John Gresham Machen (July 28, 1881 – January 1, 1937) was an American Presbyterian theologian in the early 20th century. He was the Professor of New Testament at Princeton Seminary between 1915 and 1929, and led a conservative revolt against modernist theology at Princeton and formed Westminster Theological Seminary as a more orthodox alternative.
Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton Theologians who had, since the formation of the college in the early 19th century, developed Princeton theology: a conservative and Calvinist form of Evangelical Christianity. Machen’s influence can still be felt today through the existence of both institutions that he founded – Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
As Christians we must learn to love other Christians and pastors must love their congregations. Machen takes this theme and applies it to the preacher. These are outstanding words, and all Christian leaders should take them to heart:
“I know some preachers who are very good men, and very devoted to Christ, who seem somehow to let their Christianity make them cold and dead to all the movings of friendship. They do not outwardly lead the lives of hermits; on the contrary their greatest joy is to be serving Christ by preaching his word. Yet somehow there is an impenetrable barrier between them and other men. You always have the feeling that whenever they speak to you it is out of a stern sense of duty, in order that they may do you some good.”
“They have no spontaneous affection for individual men – all men are to them alike, for all alike simply form a field for preaching. The consequence is their sermons sound as though they were coming out of a phonograph [that is, impersonal - SL]. In order to prevent your words from being sounding brass or tinkling cymbal, two kinds of love are necessary – love to God and love to your hearers. It will not do to let your hearers say, Yes, the preacher loves Christ devotedly, but he cares not one cent for me.” (pages 424-425 of Machen’s Selected Shorter Writings)