One of [Machen’s] students recalled his saying that
“the great Dr. Hermann presented his position with such power I would sometimes leave his presence wondering how I could ever retain my confidence in the historical accuracy of the Gospel narratives. Then I’d go to my room, take out the Gospel of mark and read it from beginning to end at one sitting—and my doubts would fade. I realized that the document could not possibly be the invention of the mind of a mere man.”
Machen came to see that Herrmann’s position was fallacious for two reasons. First, the picture of the ‘liberal Jesus,’ which called forth Hermann’s unbounded reverence, was a fictitious creation. Second, the type of religious experience that Ritshclian liberalism endeavored to conserve was hardly true Christian experience. It knew nothing of the biblical view of sin and redemption through the death of Christ.
David B. Calhoun, Princeton Seminary: The Majestic Testimony, 1869-1929 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1996), 230.
Because the liberals of Machen’s day were so pious, many in the churches would not remove them from the church. But if the liberals’ reverence was directed toward a “fictitious creation” of their own making, it was not praiseworthy but idolatry.