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Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000 Hardcover – December 1, 2000
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About the Author
Iain H. Murray, born in Lancashire, England, in 1931, was educated in the Isle of Man and at the University of Durham and entered the Christian ministry in 1955. He served as assistant to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel (1956-59) and subsequently at Grove Chapel, London (1961-69) and St. Giles Presbyterian Church, Sydney (1981-84). Although remaining a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, he currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the Banner of Truth Trust (of which he is a founding trustee) has its main office.
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Top Customer Reviews
In one insightful passage, he asks, "If the evangelical belief that it is faith in the gospel which brings spiritual unity is true, then it follows that where the gospel ceases to be believed there unity ceases to exist. Therein lay a long-standing problem for evangelicals who found themselves in denominations where many ministers and people did not believe that gospel. In such circumstances, how could they give the commitment to denominational unity which Scripture gives to the unity of Christians?" (p. 83).
While Murray points out failures of certain well-known leaders, he does not throw stones, nor does he assault character or motives of these men. He is charitible and gracious even when he disagrees, which I found very refreshing compared to many "critiques" that people write.
As he writes, "Like the Corinthian Christians we are prone either to idolize men or to be unduly critical. We too readily form parties behind men in forgetfulness of the direction, 'One is your teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren' (Matt. 23:8). Because an eminent Christian is evidently right in some things, or owned of God in his work, we are liable to take him as a leader in all things and to treat any who disagree as opponents." (p. 308)
He also moves beyond simply the history and focuses on practical lessons to be learned from the last fifty years. He also reminds us that our true hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel of Grace. "At almost all times in history the kingdom of God has appeared to be in confusion to the outward eye. It is faith in the promises of God which provides a different perspective. The Holy Spirit assures us that infinite wisdom and love are presently directing the life of the church and that eternity will be witness to their success when a multitude which no man can number will be glorified with Christ. What we see now is but the beginning." (p. 317).
All in all, a helpful perspective and a firm corrective for all of us who seek unity and truth in the church.
Murray begins by telling his reader of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) and his brand of theology. In an effort to defend Christianity from the higher criticism of his contemporaries, Schleiermacher made a great distinction between the mind and the heart, the objective thought and the subjective passions. He rejected the objective and taught that true Christianity was solely subjective, thus unassailable by higher criticism.
After his description of Schleiermacher, Murray shifts gears to the earlier half of the 20th Century and describes the events that transpired from that time to the present day. While careful not to slander anyone, he names names and gives example after example of a shift in attitude and approach from standing upon truth to compromise in the name of proclaiming the gospel.
As one reads through this book, at some point or another Murray's connection will strike him: modern evangelicalism has fallen into Scheiermacher-like beliefs, and most of its leaders don't even realize it. It's shocking and its implications hit very close to home, but Murray's conclusions are true.
After reading this book, I was grieved by some of the compromises I had made in the past. It permanently altered my perspective, and I am thankful I read it. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any Christian who is interested in learning from the past, and I implore pastors and church leaders everywhere to read it so that the listing evangelical church might be righted again.