In the end, Machen's thought and career is a reminder that the relationship between religion and modern culture is not as clear-cut or unambiguous as commonly thought. In the sense that he defended historic Christianity at a time when much of the intellectual world was turning secular, Machen by all means displayed "anti-modern" views. But according to a definition that makes modernity inherently antithetical to religious faith, any belief, no matter how well adapted to the modern world, is "anti-modern." The larger sense of modernity, the assumed bête noire of Protestant conservatives, entails tolerance of cultural and religious diversity. Here Machen showed a remarkable willingness to defend religious freedom and cultural pluralism while fundamentalist and modernist Protestants continued to cling, though differing over specifics, to the idea of a Christian America. Indeed, at the same time that secular intellectuals attacked the Protestant ethos of American culture, Machen argued that the churches' involvement in cultural and social life was harmful because it undermined faithful witnessing to Christian truth. Unfortunately for Machen, that twin commitment - to Presbyterian orthodoxy and religious pluralism - went largely unheeded in fundamentalist and evangelical circles. Yet his outlook may still prove instructive to believers and secularists... today who through a series of culture wars struggle to reconcile the demands of faith with the realities of modernity.
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