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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very thoughtful and stimulating perspective
With only 288 pages, this book could be neither a full, nor even a balanced, treatment of Wesley, still less of Methodism as a whole. But in writing on Wesley and the movement he founded, Iain Murray fills a gap in the Banner of Truth's coverage of the Evangelical Revival which also includes biographies of such outstanding figures as George Whitefield (by Arnold...
Published on 12 Jun. 2004

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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ‘Wesley and Murray who Followed Him’.
Perhaps no figure since Jacobus Arminius has polarized the church as much as the subject of Ian Murray’s recent portrait: John Wesley (1703-1791). Murray introduces Wesley in the spiritually impoverished landscape of 18th century British Anglicanism. Starting from his early days of study at Oxford University, Wesley is portrayed as navigating a hostile terrain of...
Published on 1 Nov. 2003 by Sean


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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very thoughtful and stimulating perspective, 12 Jun. 2004
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This review is from: Wesley and Men Who Followed (Hardcover)
With only 288 pages, this book could be neither a full, nor even a balanced, treatment of Wesley, still less of Methodism as a whole. But in writing on Wesley and the movement he founded, Iain Murray fills a gap in the Banner of Truth's coverage of the Evangelical Revival which also includes biographies of such outstanding figures as George Whitefield (by Arnold Dallimore) Jonathan Edwards (by Murray himself).
The book is divided into four parts: (1) contains five chapters on Wesley, his role in the Evangelical Revival, his thought, his departure from Calvinism, and his leadership; (2) is a biography of three ordinary and yet extraordinary preacher/evangelists who followed, taking us up to about 1850 - William Bramwell, Gideon Ouseley and Thomas Collins; (3) has a more detailed treatment of two of Wesley's departures from tranditional evangelical teaching, and (4) is a really a postscript overviewing the zenith and decline of Methodism.
I bought the book partly to fill some gaps in my knowledge of the Evangelical Revival, and partly because the English-speaking world owes such a tremendous debt to Wesley and the movement he founded, that a book on this topic by such an author as Iain Murray seemed an irresistible proposition. And I wasn't disappointed. The active godliness of Wesley, and the three men Murray picks out, of the many who followed, are truly heartwarming.
But what has been most thought-provoking about the book is its insightful treatment of Wesley the man, and the understanding demonstrated of the circumstances which created Wesley's rift from Calvinism. For the thoughtful Calvinistic reader, there is much to reflect on here.
The combination of heartwarming spirituality, and thoughtful reflection on some of the issues we as Calvinists can generate for ourselves, our successors, and those we encounter, combine to make this a tremendous book.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ‘Wesley and Murray who Followed Him’., 1 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Wesley and Men Who Followed (Hardcover)
Perhaps no figure since Jacobus Arminius has polarized the church as much as the subject of Ian Murray’s recent portrait: John Wesley (1703-1791). Murray introduces Wesley in the spiritually impoverished landscape of 18th century British Anglicanism. Starting from his early days of study at Oxford University, Wesley is portrayed as navigating a hostile terrain of contemporary religious indifference. Towards that end, the book spends more time defending Wesley and his followers, than of clearly explaining the message of Methodism. Indeed, the book from beginning to end in seeking to preserve Wesley for evangelical Christianity turns a blind eye to much of his heretical doctrine and apostasy. The emotionally charged portrait of Wesley and his preachers is so captivating, that the reader is tempted time and again to overlook the historical reality and embrace the fictitious man of piety who is horribly confused and misunderstood.
With all this in mind, it is important to view Murray’s book as an apologetic work, not solely of John Wesley or his preachers, but of Evangelical Arminianism. Why else would so much ink be employed in the defense of one who said that Calvinism was his enemy? Towards that goal, Murray excuses Wesley time and again as a sincere victim of his environment. When Wesley calls predestination ‘a doctrine full of blasphemy’ and the God of predestination ‘as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust’ this is excused as a well-meaning response to the hyper-Calvinism of his day . In similar fashion his erroneous view of Christian ‘perfectionism’ is practically excused by Murray as a heartfelt attempt to counterbalance the false teaching of antinomianism . Indeed ‘Wesley and Men who Followed’ does much to promote the lie that the church today needs a little bit of both Wesley and Whitefield in order to achieve proper ‘balance’. The book, therefore, misses a good opportunity to (Romans 16:17) to mark one whose writings have continued to plague the church with division and false doctrine.
Murray’s revisionist portrait also extends to Wesley’s blasphemous view of Justification. Wesley held to a theory of justification that is virtually indistinguishable to that of sanctification. He openly taught that Justification is not merely forensic (a legal declaration), but that it depends on the ‘moment to moment’ obedience of the believer. Murray trivializes the issue and defends Wesley from criticism by suggesting that his inconsistencies on the subject were due to working ‘too fast and with too much indifference to strict consistency.’ Yet Wesley himself noted that his own position on the subject was ‘a hair's breadth’ from ‘salvation by works.’ His doctrine can perhaps be best summarized by his favorite writer, William Law who wrote, ‘We can not have security of our salvation but by doing our utmost to deserve it.’ This concept of ‘deserving it’ is a major theme within Wesley’s sermons and one could hardly be blamed for mistaking them as a byproduct of the Roman Catholic Council of Trent. Wesley clearly affiliated himself with a conditional gospel of works when he insisted that election is based on the future works and faith of men. Wesley comments:
This decree, whereby whom God did foreknow, he did predestinate, was indeed from everlasting; this, whereby all who suffer (allow) Christ to make them alive are elect according to the foreknowledge of God.
Another fatal weakness within the book is the omission of so much incriminating evidence against Wesley. For example, while Murray does briefly touch upon Wesley’s belief in baptismal regeneration, he completely overlooks his advocacy of prayers for the dead. Wesley writes 'Prayer for the dead, the faithful de, parted, in the advocacy of which I conceive myself clearly justified’. The book also ignores Wesley’s belief that there will be unconverted Moslems and other heathen who will be accepted on the basis of their good works. The words of our Lord in John 3:7 ‘Ye must be born again’ contrast sharply with Wesley’s own view that ‘the merciful God’ sees Moslems and ‘regards the lives and tempers of men more than their ideas .’ Also neglected is Wesley’s very strange belief in ghosts and fondness for drawing lots.
Wesley’s ecumenical approach toward Romanism is also overlooked and can best be appreciated by Wesley’s own correspondence to a Roman Catholic, ‘Let the points wherein we differ stand aside; here are enough wherein we agree, enough to be the ground of every Christian temper, and of every Christian action. O brethren, let us not still fall out by the way .’ In addition, while Murray does hint at Wesley’s favorable disposition toward women preachers, he does not provide us with the clarity that we find in Wesley’s own writings. Wesley wrote the Manchester Conference in 1787 that we should ‘give the right hand of fellowship to Sarah Mallet, and have no objection of her being a Preacher in our connexion…’
In conclusion the target of ‘Wesley and Men who Followed Him’ could hardly be more clear. Murray offers far more critical fire on the Reformed detractors of Wesley than of a man who taught baptismal regeneration, promoted women preachers, maligned the saints of his day and fought against Calvinism his entire life. The target in the cross hair is the uncompromising Calvinist who will not accept Arminianism as a legitimate expression of the Truth. How else could one explain why Wesley’s well documented campaign of lies against August Toplady, the defender of sovereign grace, is not even mentioned in the book? Murray’s book is all about tolerance and acceptance of the Arminian lie of human sovereignty and seeks to diminish the antithesis between grace and works. Sadly, Murray has failed to offer anything other than a revisionist history that places the blame on everyone and everything surrounding John Wesley in order to preserve him for the modern day evangelical church. One wonders if the book would have been more appropriately entitled ‘Wesley and Murray who Followed Him’.
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Wesley and Men Who Followed
Wesley and Men Who Followed by Iain H. Murray (Hardcover - 29 May 2003)
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