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The Old Evangelicalism: Old Truths for a New Awakening Hardcover – September 1, 2005
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About the Author
Murray, born in Lancashire, England, 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 Westminister Chapel (1956-59) and subsequently at Grove Chapel, London (1961-69) and St. Giles Presbyterian Church, Sydney (1984-84), Although remaining a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, he is founding trustee for Banner of Truth Trust.
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Top Customer Reviews
Isn't the preaching of the law of God to sinners the same as preaching salvation by works?
Shouldn't Christians be able to say when they were born again?
Doesn't the righteousness of Christ imputed to us do away with the need for Christians to live godly lives?
If Christ's work purchased salvation for a definite number only, how can God desire that all should come to repentance?
Can God "so love the world", and then send anyone to Hell?
What is the Scriptural basis for assurance of salvation?
Iain H. Murray in The Old Evangelicalism considers these, and many other questions. However this is no quick-and easy Q and A, but a quite exceptional volume of doctrinal studies. The material was originally delivered at conferences of Christian preachers and missionaries, but has been revised to benefit a wider audience.
Iain Murray does not argue that because something belonged to a bygone age, it must be better than anything we find today. But he does say much to show that "on such doctrinal and experimental subjects as conversion and assurance the English Puritans provide a greater wealth of help than any other school in the English language, and probably in any language". And quoting Spurgeon, he remarks "A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might save many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences".
A strength of this book is its accessibility. The issues raised by the questions above are some of the most difficult found in Christian teaching. Too little depth fails to penetrate to the real problematic issues, whereas too much places it beyond the grasp of many. Some authors seem to make even simple things complex; others are able to make the profoundest issues approachable. Iain Murray belongs to the latter category.
Yet the author has a sure grasp of the extent of Scriptural light. He knows when the Bible speaks and when it is silent; and he also knows the limitations of fallen human understanding when faced with divine truth. "The reality is that we are faced with truths that far outreach our understanding", he says. Sometimes we have to be satisfied with "I don't know". This is not easily learned, and ignorance can quickly give way to conjecture. In this vital area "The Old Evangelicalism" gets it right.
The book's very clear layout is also helpful. A ready reference time-line for the key names quoted is given in both the front and back covers. The contents pages are generous in detail, and there is a full index. Each chapter ends with its own numbered Conclusions section, and with additional notes.
This book deserves a wide readership and is highly recommended.
Murray addresses some of the central subjects of evangelism, including conversion, Christ's imputed righteousness, and the love of God for sinners, by turning to Scripture but also by citing people who have been used powerfully by God in the past, such as C.H. Spurgeon. It was Spurgeon himself who said that "a respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might save many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences."
To just say a few words on the chapter about conversion, Murray contends that this central doctrine of the Christian faith has been neglected, over-simplified, and pushed to the periphery in modern Christianity. Consequently, he says, our evangelistic efforts have suffered. A modern error is the belief that we can bypass the Law of God and go straight to the preaching of the gospel. But we are reminded that the law is the perfect expression of the character of God. It's purpose is not to save but to drive the sinner to Christ. The law is to be preached to lead to conviction of sin, a despairing of meeting God's requirements by oneself. In his own day, Spurgeon recognized the danger of "simplifying" conversion by removing from preaching any sense of awe and reverence before a holy God: "Today we have so many built up who were never pulled down; so many filled who were never emptied; so many exalted who were never humbled; that I the more earnestly remind you that the Holy Spirit must convince us of sin, or we cannot be saved" (page 67). Murray ends the chapter with the admonition that focus on evangelism and revival are all well and good, but following Spurgeon we must go back to first things with a renewed fear of God.