Marc D. Carpenter correctly responds to this Machen observation thusly:
“The pure doctrine of the cross runs counter to the natural (i.e., unregenerate) man.” So true. Why, then, was “the Christianity of the Apostolic Fathers, of the Apologists, of Irenaeus … very different from the Christianity of Paul”? Why were/are professing churches not faithful to the doctrine the apostle Paul preached? Come on, Machen, the logic is right there in front of your face. It is because the Apostolic Fathers, the Apologists, Irenaeus, and all those in churches that are not faithful to the doctrine the apostle Paul preached, are/were NATURAL (i.e., unregenerate) MEN! “The pure doctrine of the cross runs counter to the natural man.” Does it run counter to the new creature in Christ, the one who has come from darkness to light, from blindness to sight? Of course not. So whenever you find a person who does not believe the pure doctrine of the cross (whether it is Joe Shmoe from Idaho or the “Apostolic Fathers”), you find the NATURAL MAN. So simple, isn’t it?