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Collected Writings: Life; Sermons; Reviews v. 3 (Collected Writings of John Murray) Library Binding – 1 Oct 1982

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Product details

  • Library Binding: 390 pages
  • Publisher: The Banner of Truth Trust (Oct. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0851513379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851513379
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,501,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 0.0 out of 5 stars 0 reviews
By Steven H Propp - Published on
Format: Library Binding
John Murray (1898-1975) was a Scottish-born Calvinist theologian who taught at Princeton Seminary and helped found Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught Systematic Theology for thirty years until his retirement in 1966. His Collected Writings of John Murray: 4 vol. set are available, or the other volumes are available individually: Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 1: Claims of Truth, Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 2: Lectures in Systematic Theology, and Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 4: Studies in Theology. He also wrote books [which are NOT included in the “Collected Writings,” due to copyright limitations] such as Redemption Accomplished and Applied, The Imputation of Adam's Sin, Epistle to the Romans, etc.

Iain H. Murray’s Preface to this 1982 collection states, “John Murray and I did not belong to the same family and therefore when, in 1973 we were discussing the publication of his Collected Writings, to my proposal that it should include a biography he replied: ‘… If I supplied a skeleton, perhaps you yourself could write the biographical account.’ … Sadly… nothing … was provided by our late friend who health deteriorated so rapidly before his death on May 8, 1975… To those who remember John as a friend and a servant of Christ it will be a very inadequate account. Six years after his death there are many across the world who do not cease to miss him deeply. But my hope is that for those who did not know him… these pages will provide at least some idea of who he was.”

Iain Murray says of John Murray’s military service in the First World War, “While leading a section of man, as a lance corporal, and in the act of firing his rifle … the sight of his right eye had been irretrievably destroyed by shrapnel… Soon he was in England in a hospital where, a few days later, his eye was removed… On December 10, 1918,he was discharged, ‘being no longer physically fit for war service’… A small pension was subsequently paid. The glass eye which John Murray wore so closely resembled the original that even those who knew him well tended to forget that his sight was limited to one eye. It was a considerable handicap for one whose next ten years were to be given to almost unremitting study.” (Pg. 14)

He records, “Without question John Murray’s years at Princeton [Theological Seminary] exercised a formative influence upon his whole life and thought… Murray found the theology of the Westminster Confession in living embodiment, and taught from the original languages of the Scriptures with a freshness and an exactness of exegesis which was new to him… At Princeton, then, Murray’s commitment to the Reformed Faith was not changed, but it became, in a new way, rooted in the Bible itself.” (Pg. 28-29) However, after Murray spent three years in Scotland, “It was a changed Princeton Seminary to which John Murray returned in September 1929… Each year support weakened for the conviction that liberalism and Christianity represent two different religions, and those who, like [J. Gresham] Machen, continued to speak for that conviction were branded as uncharitable and isolationist.” (Pg. 38)

He continues, “[In 1929] The reorganization of Princeton Seminary was carried through and among members of the new board were two who had signed and supported the liberalism of the Auburn Affirmation… following the General Assembly decision of 1929, three of the Seminary’s leading professors, Oswald T. Allis, Robert Dick Wilson, and Machen himself had resigned, followed by the your Cornelius Van Til… In July 1929 these three senior professors, supported by an influential number of Presbyterian ministers, had determined to commence another Seminary which would continue to supply men for the ministry of their church and stand by the Faith which the old Princeton had so long proclaimed… Thus it was that on September 25, 1929, in Philadelphia, Westminster Theological Seminary began its history.” (Pg. 39)

He notes that in Murray’s writings, “he dealt with ‘Modern Dispensationalism’ in … decisive terms. Dispensationalism, as revealed in the notes of the Scofield Bible, ‘discovers in the several dispensations of God’s redemptive revelation distinct and even contrary principles of divine procedure and thus destroys the unity of God’s dealing with fallen mankind.’ ‘It is,’ he declared, ‘’heterodox from the standpoint of the Reformed Faith.’” (Pg. 59)

In the 1930s, “a far more critical issue was the question whether living a ‘surrendered life’ demanded abstinence from alcoholic drinks. It was part of the mores of the fundamentalist ethos that such a repudiation was a required part of Christian holiness. John Murray led the opposition to this viewpoint within the Seminary… he was in no way opposed to the personal act of Christians in denying themselves the use of alcohol, nor was he ever complacent about the fearful abuse of liquor … but he was vehement in his assertion that for the Church to demand abstinence, in the name of Christian holiness, was to set up a standard other than the Word of God. In other words, a broad, vital principle concerning the sufficiency of Scripture was at stake.” (Pg. 67)

Of Murray’s style as a professor, he notes, “Murray’s method was to begin with prayer (which he always took himself), and then to occupy most, if not all, of the remaining time with what amounted to a dictation of his lecture… The truth is that to take Murray’s lectures down with exactness required a considerable degree of proficiency. Knowledge of Greek and Hebrew was assumed, and so was a good English vocabulary, for students soon learned that their professor chose words very deliberately… Usually his only pause in a lecture was to write a particularly difficult word on the blackboard… The Professor was undeterred by the fact that his teaching method was out-of-fashion… Students were in theological seminaries, primarily, to receive truth, not to discuss and debate it; still less to originate ideas of their own… the immediate need of a theological student is to learn and to grasp an authoritative presentation of historic Christianity.” (Pg. 91-92) Later, he adds, “It remains to be said on the subject of John Murray’s influence that it reached its widest scope, and most enduring form, in his published writings.” (Pg. 135)

He recounts, “Apart from John Murray himself, no one else in Philadelphia considered that the termination of his work at Westminster Seminary was desirable in 1964… But the fact is that he had looked forward to retirement in the mid-sixties… [in] the anticipation he had long entertained of being more fully engaged in preaching and pastoral labor. That, after all, was his first love, and with the passing years his enjoyment of those labors increased rather than decreased.” (Pg. 138) However, he adds, “In the estimation of some hearers, John Murray as a preacher was not always lively and popular. Perhaps the truth is that he was so much accustomed to speaking to candidates for the ministry that possibly he expected too much of the normal type of hearer.” (Pg. 140)

In a sermon on Job, Murray said, “One of the grossest distortions of the sovereignty of God in his decree and providence is that of passive quiescence, fatalistic inactivity and stoical indifference… The faith in God’s providence that is true and the hope in God’s faithfulness that is well grounded have as their complement the strictest adherence to and perseverance in the way of divine commandment… Obedience enlists our utmost diligence and constant application. And the way of Godliness is just this, that when the rod of God strikes most hardly and mysteriously the saint of God cleaves most closely to the revealed will of God.” (Pg. 166)

In another sermon, he explains, “It is with Scripture that Paul is dealing [in 2 Tim 3:16] and it is of the written text that he speaks when he says it is God-breathed. And since Scripture is a fixed body of writings… it is of that whole, and of all its inter-related and component parts, that Paul speaks. Scripture … is not merely of the revelatory processes in deeds and words lying back of Scripture that the apostle is speaking. And therefore Scripture itself is accorded all the sanction and sanctity that belong to the out-spoken word of God. It is God’s self-revelation and the declaration of his will unto his church that is now committed to writing.” (Pg. 259)

In a review of an Amillennial book by Floyd Hamilton [The Basis of Millennial Faith], Murray notes, “We are more than amazed when Mr. Hamilton says, ‘The doctrine of election itself… would inevitably indicate that the forces of Satan will continue to exist in the world throughout the inter-adventual period. The belief that all will become righteous would seem to contradict the plain teaching of election, that some are saved and others lost.’ The doctrine of election is not in the least contradicted by the belief that for a period in this world’s history the population of the world will be preponderantly elect. Even if during such a period ever person living on the earth were elect---a belief postmillenarians do not necessarily entertain---the doctrine of election would not in the least be disturbed thereby. It would simply mean that all living in that period were embraced in the election of grace.” (Pg. 305-306)

The volumes in this series will be virtual “must reading” for anyone seriously studying contemporary Evangelical Reformed theology.
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