f The Wittenberg Door: Today in Church History: J. Gresham Machen

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Today in Church History: J. Gresham Machen

On January 1, 1937, J. Gresham Machen died of pneumonia in Bismarck, North Dakota.

During the Christmas recess at Westminster Theological Seminary, Machen agreed to travel to North Dakota to speak at some of the churches in the six-month old church that he had helped to found. He took ill during the trip but insisted on fulfilling his obligations when he arrived in the twenty-degree below zero weather. After speaking in Leith and then in Bismarck, his condition worsened to the point where he was hospitalized for pneumonia.

In J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir, Ned B. Stonehouse records Machen's death in this way: "On New Year's Eve Mr. [Samuel J.] Allen called briefly and offered prayer. And then Machen told him of a vision he had had of being in heaven: 'Sam, it was glorious, it was glorious.' And a little later, 'Sam, isn't the Reformed Faith grand?' The following day he was largely unconscious, but there were intervals when his mind was thoroughly alert. In one of those periods he dictated a telegram to his colleague John Murray which was his final word: 'I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.' And so he died at about 7:30 p.m. on January 1, 1937."

-John Muether

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