Letters from the Front
June 18, 2012
J. Gresham Machen's Correspondence from World War I
“ ... it may be a surprise that in the First World War Machen chose not to fight as a warrior. Instead he regularly risked his life in embattled France as a humanitarian non-combatant serving with the YMCA ... This volume rounds out our understanding of Machen the brilliant scholar by also revealing him as a servant of Christ to needy and suffering soldiers.”
Publisher's Description: Never before published, here is a glimpse into the formative years of a great campaigner for the faith ... and a stirring example of how the faith of a seminary professor was refined and strengthened through the trials of war.
Westminster Alumnus Barry Waugh (MAR '80, MDiv '81, PhD '02) adds commentary and footnotes to provide essential guidance for fully understanding Machen's service and ministry.
“J. Gresham Machen is a fascinating, complex and controversial figure, well-known for his role in the church conflicts of the 1920s and 30s. What is often forgotten is that he was also a member of the generation of young men whose lives were forever changed by their exposure to the horrors of trench warfare in the First World War. This volume contains the letters which the young Machen wrote home as he served as a YMCA volunteer in the war. As such, they offer both important first-hand accounts of the conflict but also give us insights into some of the darker experiences which shaped the mind of the future church leader. ”
“J. Gresham Machen played a key role in the theological debates of the 1920s and 1930s. His work has been studied and evaluated from many angles. What is less well-known and less well considered is his service in the First World War. Although he objected to American involvement, he participated as a volunteer in the YMCA. From these rare letters the reader can see a fresh side of the great scholar. On the battle fields of France he was simply known as a compassionate soul who brought solace to scores of suffering soldiers. For those who only know Machen the polemicist, this volume will showcase Machen the caregiver. ”