Friday, April 07, 2017

Andrew Murray, Mystical Quietist and Higher Life / Keswick Writer, part 1 of 7

The South African minister Andrew Murray (1828-1917), whose “influence has been, probably, greater than that of any other contemporary devotional writer,”[1] is a very notable advocate of the continuationistic Keswick theology and a charismatic precursor.  His works, translated into many foreign languages, have received a wide recognition in Europe and America, so that “[t]o estimate the spiritual influence which Andrew Murray exercised upon his day and generation is not only a difficult but an impossible task.”[2]  He wrote approximately 240 books and tracts[3] in English and Dutch, which have been translated into a large number of languages, including, among others, French, German, Spanish, Danish, Swedish, Chinese,[4] Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Yiddish, and Urdu.[5]  He could write quickly, as his writings,[6] while containing a variety of warm devotional thoughts, were generally “unpremeditated,” rather than being the product of careful and painstaking exegesis of Scripture.  He could, for example, write eighteen chapters of a book in a single day, and writing multiple chapters a day was not out of the ordinary for him.  Such work was made the more easy since, for example, “[o]ut of the contemplation of [a] . . . shapeless brown stump grew [Murray’s book] The Mystery of the True Vine,” rather than, say, a deep and careful exegesis of the vine pericopes in Scripture.  Despite the tremendous impact of Murray’s works, his biographer noted:  “A word or two is necessary on Andrew Murray’s style, which, it must be confessed, is a poor one, both in English and in Dutch. . . . Mr. Murray was perfectly aware of his linguistic shortcomings. One of his earliest letters . . . contains a lament over ‘my miserable deficiency in composition’ . . . and to his daughter and amanuensis he would say, in later years:  ‘My child, I have no style, or only a very bad style.’”[7]  Nevertheless, Murray’s writings have had an incalculably great influence upon worldwide Christendom.
Despite being a conservative Dutch Reformed minister, Murray did not hold to classical Reformed doctrine in all its aspects; for example, he believed in an unlimited atonement, and his eldest daughter served for many years in the strongly Arminian Salvation Army.[8]  Happily, Murray had a reasonable testimony of personal conversion, unlike so many other early Keswick leaders and many of the ministers of the Dutch Reformed denomination he worked in.  The fact that he was already in seminary studying for the ministry at the time of his professed conversion is evidence that his denomination was a mixed multitude at best.[9]  While charity can encourage the believer to hope to embrace Murray in heaven, his counsel to the lost evidences the negative influence of Keswick founder Hannah W. Smith.  Scripture teaches that a lost sinner to recognize that Christ will save him if he comes to the Redeemer in repentant faith, but Hannah Smith, and Murray after her, counselled the lost to convince themselves that they are already saved.  Mrs. Smith[10] taught:  “Say. . . over and over[:] ‘The Lord does love me. He is my present and my perfect Saviour; Jesus saves me, Jesus saves me now!’”[11]  She wrote elsewhere:  “Faith, we are told, ‘calleth those things which be not as though they were.’  Calling them brings them into being.”[12]  That is, a lost person who claims that he is saved will, by that very action, become a Christian.  Her counsel to the unconverted was:  “If you are unconverted . . . [s]ay to yourself . . . [“]He is reconciled to me in Christ, and He does not impute my trespasses unto me; I was saved through the death of Christ.” Repeat it over and over . . . ‘I will believe; I choose to believe; I do believe; I am saved.’”[13]  Following in Hannah Smiths’ footsteps, Murray taught people who were seeking salvation that they must believe, not that Christ will save them if they will come to Him in repentance, but that Christ is already theirs:  “we have but to accept, to believe ‘He is mine,’ and we are saved.”[14]  While one can hope that he was himself converted, Murray’s confusing Keswick counsel to the lost would have hindered his flock from truly entering the Kingdom.

See here for this entire study.

[1]           Pg. 441, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis. Murray wanted DuPlessis to write his biography (pg. v, Ibid), and DuPlessis obliged by composing an extremely favorable presentation of Murray’s life.
[2]           Pgs. 411, 435, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[3]           It is noteworthy that “[a]ll the teachings of his later lifetime are present . . . [in] his earliest volumes” (pg. 469, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis).
[4]           The influence of his writings in China is described on pgs. 472-473, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  Their influence on Watchman Nee is notable.
[5]           Pgs. 472-474, 526-535, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[6]           It is noteworthy that he also regularly preached “without the use of manuscript or notes” (            pg. 446, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis).
[7]           Pgs. 464-468, 499, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  His book De Blijdschap (Joy) was the particular work that DuPlessis recorded he wrote eighteen chapters of in a day.
[8]           Pgs. 249, 487, The Life of Andrew Murray, J. DuPlessis.  London:  Marshall Brothers, 1919.
[9]           Cf. pgs. 32, 64-66, 74, 78, The Life of Andrew Murray, J. DuPlessis.  London:  Marshall Brothers, 1919.
[10]         Note the discussion of Mrs. Smith’s view of faith above in the chapter on her and her husband.
[11]         The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah W. Smith, Chapters 3, 6, 14, elec. acc. Accordance Bible Software; cf. Letter to Anna, September 6, 1871, reproduced in the entry for June 16 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
            It is noteworthy that Hannah Smith’s “Jesus saves me now” was also Robert P. Smith’s great refrain of immediate sanctification, the “watch word” of the Conventions that developed the Keswick theology (Letter to Father and Mother, June 9, 1875, reproduced in the entry for July 26 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter), and the way of entrance into a state of a perfection of acts, instantaneously obtained as a result of an act of faith directed to that end. Furthermore, “‘Jesus saves me now,’ is the refrain of more than one peculiarly ‘Keswick’ hymn,” which teach that by that immediate act of faith one obtains this second blessing (pg. 216, The Keswick Convention:  Its Message, its Method, and its Men, ed. Harford); “Jesus saves me now” was enshrined in Keswick hymnody from at least the time of the Oxford Convention (pgs. 88-89, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).  Compare pgs. 140, 319, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875.
[12]         Pg. 235, The God of All Comfort, Smith.
[13]         Faith, Hannah Whitall Smith, cited pg. 55, The “Higher Life” Doctrine of Sanctification Tried by the Word of God, Henry Boardman.  Italics in original.
[14]         Pg. 137, The Life of Andrew Murray, J. DuPlessis.  London:  Marshall Brothers, 1919.

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