- Hardcover: 1224 pages
- Publisher: Banner of Truth; 1st edition (October 1, 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0851513964
- ISBN-13: 978-0851513966
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #745,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Collected Writings of John Murray (4 Volume Set) 1st Edition
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About the Author
Professor John Murray (1898-1975) was recognized in his own lifetime as one of the leading Reformed theologians in the English-speaking world.
Born at Migdale, near Bonar Bridge, Scotland, he attended Dornoch Academy, and served with the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) in France during the First World War, losing an eye in the conflict. After the War, he pursued studies, first at the University of Glasgow (MA, 1923), and then at Princeton Theological Seminary, USA (1924-27).
In 1929 he was invited to teach Systematic Theology at Princeton, and did so for one year, before joining the Faculty of the newly formed Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. There he shared with such scholars and Christian leaders as J. Gresham Machen and Cornelius Van Til in the great struggle to maintain the old Princeton tradition in theology, represented by the Hodges and B. B. Warfield. He was ordained in 1937 by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, USA.
John Murray remained at Westminster until his retirement in 1966. He returned to his native Scotland, married Valerie Knowlton in December 1967 and enjoyed a brief period of fatherhood prior to his death in 1975. A careful scholar, an eloquent lecturer, a moving preacher, and the author of many outstanding articles and books, Murray's driving passions were to declare Christ s Word, advance his cause, and bless his people.
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He says that the Westminster Shorter Catechism “is the most perfect document of its kind that the Christian church has produced… we are not saying that it is perfect; it is a human document and is therefore not inspired or infallible. Of all literature only the Word of God is perfect, and it is perfect because it is the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” (Pg. 29)
He states, “We have found that there are included in the design of the atonement benefits which accrue to the non-elect… In this sense, therefore, we may say that Christ died for non-elect persons… [But] these fruits or benefits all fall short of salvation… These non-elect persons, however reforming may have been the influences exerted upon them and however uplifting their experiences, come short of the benefits accruing from the atonement, which the truly and finally saved enjoy. It is, therefore, apparent that the atonement has an entirely different reference to the elect from that which it sustains to the non-elect…” (Pg. 68-69)
He asserts, “There is no evidence to support the notion of a secret [Second] coming. The ‘rapture’ of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is nothing more than the snatching up of believers to meet the Lord in the air, and contains no suggestion of an advent prior to that which is uniformly set forth as the public, visible coming.” (Pg. 89)
He states, “there are in particular two evils that have to be avoided. The first is the presentation of the gospel … on an Arminian basis… It must be admitted that this construction of the gospel and of man’s responsibility and opportunity has many appealing and plausible features… people of Reformed persuasion have readily fallen into line with this type of evangelistic effort… there has been fostered a certain type of high-pressure appeal and of emotional excitement that is scarcely compatible with the sobriety and dignity that ought to characterize the preaching of the gospel… The second evil is hyper-Calvinism… deep persuasion of the particularism of the plan of salvation, and revulsion from Arminian evangelism, have sometimes been the occasion for the abandonment of evangelism altogether.” (Pg. 130-131)
He argues, “The plea that it is wrong to urge Sabbath observance on unbelievers is invalid for several reasons: 1. Are we to say that it is improper or irrelevant to confront unbelievers with the law of God, with the sin of transgression, and with the wages that accrue?... 2. By the law is the knowledge of sin… Failure to observe the Sabbath law is a conspicuous manifestation of dispute with the authority and goodness of God. 3. Sustained emphasis upon the necessity of Sabbath observance… is a restraining influence that prevents unbelievers from multiplying the transgression that reaps the judgment of God… 4. The observances which the Sabbath law enjoins are means of grace and therefore channels of salvation… 5. The outward observance of the Sabbath promote public order and makes for the preservation of our most cherished rights and liberties.” (Pg. 225-226)
In a report he prepared for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, he wrote, “how is the church to proclaim then counsel of God as it bears upon civil affairs? It is obvious that there are two means, in particular, of proclaiming the Word of God, namely, the pulpit and the press. The church… must make its voice heard and felt in reference to public questions. The church may not supinely stand aside and ignore political corruption, for example...” (Pg. 257)
He firmly rejects evolution: “The crux of the question as it is posed for us by the theory of evolution is: can the portrayal given us in the Bible, and particularly in Genesis 1 and 2, be interpreted as compatible with a theory that man … as represented in Genesis, came to be by a process of evolution from lower forms of animate life?... There are several considerations that demand a negative answer. 1. Man’s identity consists in the image and likeness of God… we are compelled to conclude that no action or process such as would account for the other forms of life would be sufficient for the order to which man belongs… 2. Genesis 2:7 cannot be reconciled with the evolutionary hypothesis, and it confirms the conclusions derived from Genesis 1:26; 5:1; 9:6… The postulate of evolutionary theory is to the opposite effect… 3. Genesis 2:7… shows that man has affinity with the material stuff of the earth and with the animate creation as well… So we should expect resemblances of various kinds… No evolutionary hypothesis is necessary to explain them; they are required by the relationships man sustains to his environment.” (Pg. 12-13)
He states, “The distinction to be borne in mind is that foreordination, though all-inclusive, does not operate so as to deprive man of his agency, nor of the voluntary decision by reason of which he is responsible for his actions. Similarly foreordination does not rule out the power of contrary choice in those cases where this obtained or obtains. Just as foreordination does not conflict with or rule out human responsibility, so it does not conflict with or rule out the power of alternative choice, nor does it conflict with or rule out the power of contrary choice where this power is necessarily posited.” (Pg. 64)
He acknowledges, “Now here is the problem. How can it be that, from the aspect of the divine plan, there is immutable predetermination and accomplishment, and yet from the aspect of man’s agency no coercion or compulsion, no curtailment of his freedom and responsibility, and no alleviation of his guilt? It is a mystery beyond our comprehension. We cannot so diagnose or analyze the interrelations of these correlative facts that we shall be able to see the perfectly harmonious co-working of these two distinct agencies or factors. There is convergence of both in the one act of the fall. But how they converge, how there can be the combination of divine and human agency in the same event and yet no interference with or curtailment of either, is a matter beyond our understanding. This is what we mean when we say that we are faced with an insoluble problem.” (Pg. 73-74)
He continues, “If infants are depraved they may also be holy. The regenerate infant in this respect radically differs from the unregenerated infant. The regenerate infant is not under the dominion of sin, is not a child of wrath, but a child of God and a member of his kingdom… It will take years, of course, for the infant concerned to arrive at explicit consciousness of the implications of that regeneration and of the salvation it involves… We must not, therefore, conceive of the regenerate infant as regenerated in infancy and then converted when he reaches years of understanding and discretion. No, not at all!... Of course, oftentimes persons regenerated in infancy pass through experiences when they grow up that closely resemble the experience of conversion and they themselves may think that, prior to that event, they were under the domination of sin… In many other cases, however… many of the most intelligent Christians can never remember a time when… they were without God and without hope in him. They were not only regenerated in infancy, but nurtured in the bosom of Christian instruction.” (Pg. 200-201)
Murray’s biographer 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 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)
In a review of an Amillennial book by Floyd Hamilton ], 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)
He acknowledges, “The history of doctrine demonstrates the progressive development and we may never think that this progression has ever reached a finale… This progression does not mean that the advance has been uniformly continuous. There have been periods of theological decadence… lamentably, the professing church too often shows retrogression rather than progress … But the unfaithfulness of the church in any one period or place does not suspend, far less does it make void, the constant progression which systematic theology is accorded by the oversight of the church’s Lord and the enlightenment of his Spirit.” (Pg. 6)
He suggests, “we are not here speaking of God’s declarative will. In terms of his decretive will it must be said that God absolutely decrees the eternal death of some wicked and, in that sense, is absolutely pleased so to decree. But… it is the will of God’s benevolence… that is stated, not the will of God’s decree… And neither is there evidence to show … there is here any comparative notion to the effect that God takes greater pleasure in saving men than he does in damning them.” (Pg. 125-126)
He asserts, “There is a twofold aspect to the will of God. And there is the DISPARITY between the decretive will and the perceptive will, between the determinations of his secret counsel that certain events will come to pass and the prescriptions of his revealed will to us that we do not bring these events to pass. It cannot be gainsaid that God decretively wills what he preceptively forbids and decretively forbids what he perceptively commands…. it is at this point that the sovereignty of God makes the human mind reel as it does nowhere else in connection with thus topic. It should be so. It is the sanctified understanding that reels. And it is not the mark of intelligence to allege or claim a ready resolution of the apparent contradiction with which it confronts us. How can God say: This comes to pass by my infallible foreordination and providence, and also say to us: This thou shalt not being to pass?” (Pg. 202)
He continues, “The providence of God, as also his decretive will, is at no point exemplified and vindicated as to its all-inclusiveness more effectively than at the point where our responsible agency is exercised in violation of his command. There is, after all, the contradiction that we by sin offer to God’s sovereignty. It is the contradiction of the claim which his sovereignty demands of us and the contradiction of what is God’s good pleasure. But if the providence of God did not embrace that very contradiction, then there would be a sphere outside the realm of God’s providence and, therefore, outside the sphere of his sovereign control and direction. The simple upshot of that alternative would be that God would not be sovereign, and man in his sin would be able to command a realm impervious to God’s providence.” (Pg. 203-204)
Perhaps surprisingly, he says in a review of Karl Barth’s Christ and Adam: Man and Humanity in Romans 5, “The genius of Karl Barth places great demands upon anyone who ventures to review his writings. This brief treatise if no exception. Barth’s interpretation of Romans 5 … has direct lines of connection with what has come to be known as Bart’s theology… Since the reviewer is compelled to disagree with Barth at pivotal points of his interpretation, is it better to concentrate on these questions rather than to go further afield in evaluation of Barth’s theology or in appraisal of Barth himself as a theological genius.” (Pg. 316)
The volumes in this series will be virtual “must reading” for anyone seriously studying contemporary Evangelical Reformed theology.