Friday, May 19, 2017

Andrew Murray, Mystical Quietist and Higher Life / Keswick Writer, part 4 of 7


Medieval Roman Catholic mysticism and quietism had a very influential and lifelong influence on Murray.  The devout Mary worshipper, receiver of allegedly inspired oracles,[1] and Roman Catholic monk “Bernard of Clairvaux,” who taught that “it is necessary for the seeker to lose himself in God and merge his own individuality in that of the Eternal One,” and who also gave “a mighty stimulus to asceticism,” was “a favourite historical character with Andrew Murray, who called his home at Wellington after the famous abbey which Bernard founded.”[2]  Throughout his life Murray was also greatly influenced by Madame Guyon.  While not endorsing every heresy of the Catholic mystic,[3] Murray stated:  “I approve of [the] books [of] . . .  Madame Guyon . . . and recommend them,” so that it was a great compliment for one in his family to recognize a fellow minister as “an exemplification of the doctrines of Quietism in action[.] . . . All those expressions of being dead to self and lost in God which one finds in Madame Guyon seem to be exemplified in his experience and life.”[4]  Murray rated “Madame Guyon” and the Catholic monk “Rysbroeck” as “among his chief friends,” while also admiring the Roman Catholics Catherine of Siena and Santa Teresa, with their false gospel, idolatrous worship—whether of images, allegedly transubstantiated bread, or Mary—and demonic visions, mysticism, and continuationism.[5]  It is perhaps not surprising that Murray’s “books of devotion . . . met with the highest commendation at the hands of the most High Church Anglican Bishops[.]”[6]
Murray was amenable to the Keswick continuationist theology because of “his inadequate theological training . . . [he was] a minister by the time he was twenty”[7] (cf. 1 Timothy 3:6), and the limited training he did receive was within a hotbed of rationalism and theological liberalism, under professors with strong antipathy to evangelical piety and among unconverted denominational fellow-students with “scandalous morals.”  Even the “orthodox and respectable” ones “profaned . . . the name of God,” and many were “intoxicated” on various occasions.[8]  “Conversion was an antiquated word.”[9]  It is perhaps not surprising that Murray’s view of conversion and advice to the unconverted contain serious confusion.  Denying total depravity for the doctrine that the lost can truly love Jesus Christ, Murray wrote to the unconverted:  I write to you as those of whom I hope that it is in truth their earnest desire to find the Saviour, and of whom I really trust that they have truly declared before the Lord:  Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee.”[10]  Those unconverted persons who somehow truly love Christ are not to consciously and instantly repent, believe the gospel, and be justified by repentant faith alone, but are to confess that they accept Christian doctrine, worship Christ, and so insensibly and gradually become believers.[11]  It is most unfortunate that Murray’s theologically liberal seminary education left him with such a confused view of evangelical conversion.
  Indeed, Murray confessed that his seminary education was essentially useless,[12] although his interaction with religious apostasy likely contributed to Murray’s ecumenicalism, his “broad . . . charity” and “generous welcome” to men such as the Keswick leader, international Keswick spokesman, and annihilationist George Grubb, and the Higher Life and ecumenical leader John R. Mott, who became “one of the principal architects of the World Council of Churches,” was that body’s “honorary president,” and who received “the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the ecumenical movement.”[13]  Murray was “among the first to bid them welcome, and to lend the weight of his influence and authority to their undertaking[s] . . . there can be no doubt that the sympathy [and] constant interest . . . of Mr. Murray formed . . . a large element in any success which may have attended their mission.”[14]
            Thankfully, despite his corrupt seminary education, Murray did not become a modernist.  He retained much of what was both good and bad from the conservative Dutch Reformed paedobaptist tradition in which he had been raised.  For example, his teaching about what the children of believers possess by virtue of their parentage evidences clear dependence upon the Reformed paedobaptist covenantalism:
The word holy is the promise of a divine life-power.  Let us beware of emptying the word holy of its divine truth and power.  If God calls our children holy, it is because they are born from a believing parent who is holy in Christ; therefore, they are holy, too.  The child of true believers inherits from his parents, not only the sinful nature, but habits and tendencies which the child of the unbeliever does not share.  These are the true seeds of holiness, the working of the Holy Spirit from the mother’s womb.  Even where it cannot be seen, there is a secret heritage of the seed of holiness implanted in the child of the believer.  There is secured to him the Holy Spirit in whom the holiness of God has reached its full manifestation. . . . In promising the Holy Spirit to His disciples, our Lord said He would be a river of living water flowing from them to others.  The believer has power to influence those with whom he comes in contact.  The child born of him inherits a blessing in the very life he receives from the parent who is sanctified by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  In the mother’s womb the child can receive the Holy Spirit.  Oh, let us be sure of it, when God gives our child the name holy, that is the beginning of the work of His own Holy Spirit.  Let nothing less than this be what our heart reads in God’s words:  your children are holy.[15]
Murray’s affirmations might find support in the Reformed paedobaptist tradition, but they certainly are not found in the Bible.  The book of Ephesians clearly states that Christian families with children present in the congregation (Ephesians 6:1).  Nevertheless, all who had been regenerated had first been spiritually dead, and were unholy children of wrath and of the devil without any inherent goodness in them, until they came to a point when, after some time living, having a walk, and fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, they were consciously converted at the moment of saving faith (Ephesians 2:1-10).  The church of Ephesus, including the converted children of Christian parents in the congregation, would not have recognized Murray’s statements as Christian doctrine had Murray’s teaching, or the covenantal paedobaptism it is based upon, existed at the time.  Thus, Murray retained, both for better and for worse, much of the Reformed paedobaptist tradition in which he had been raised.
            Despite his lack of a genuinely Christian seminary education, Murray went on to influence many other important Keswick continuationist leaders, such as Jessie Penn-Lewis and Watchman Nee.  He corresponded with Mrs. Penn-Lewis, contributed to her Overcomer magazine, and commended her writings.  He even wrote an introduction to one of her works, which he was glad to have translated into Dutch, and he arranged to have it distributed to all the ministers and elders of his denomination in South Africa for free.[16]  “For twenty years he was president of the Holiness movement in South Africa,”[17] the country where he ministered.  Among other theological errors,[18] Murray taught the classic Keswick form of Quietism, affirming that the Christian “soul becomes utterly passive, looking and resting on what Christ is to do,”[19] yielding to be “a passive instrument possessed by God,”[20] for “Scripture . . . speaks of our being still and doing nothing . . . [the Christian] yields himself a truly passive instrument in the hand of God . . . [to] perfect passivity.”[21]  The believer is to be passive, rather than to actively use his mind or will, since these are functions of his allegedly unregenerate soul, rather than his regenerate spirit, and “[t]he greatest danger the religion of the Church or the individual has to dread is the inordinate activity of the soul, with its power of mind and will.”[22]  The “intellect . . . is . . . impotent and even dangerous” without a quietistic extra-Biblical and extra-mental revelation from God, a “wait[ing] for His teaching” within, “deeper than the soul, with all its life of feeling, and thought, and will.”[23]  Murray also altered the previous practice of his church to permit women to lead the congregation, including the men, in prayer.[24]  He further averred:  “Perfection . . . is a Bible truth . . . and Perfectionism . . . may . . . be . . . truth.”[25]  He “frequently deplored the fact that . . . Christians in general were ‘terribly afraid of perfectionism.’”[26]

See here for this entire study.






[1]           E. g., his false prophecy of the success of the Second Crusade; cf. pg. 315, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, McClintock & Strong.
[2]           Pg. 451, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis. For Bernard, “conversion [was] enter[ing] the monastery,” and “uncoerced humility justifies and . . . merits the grace of God[.] . . . Bernard does not represent a purely forensic form of justification” (pgs. 41, 48, 58, Sweet Communion:  Trajectories of Spirituality from the Middle Ages through the Further Reformation, Arie de Reuver, trans. James De Jong).  “Bernard was not . . . a forerunner of the Reformation.  He was a devout child of the twelfth century, completely involved in the contemporary developments of the Roman papal establishment” (pg. 57, Ibid).
[3]           Murray affirmed:  “I cannot say that I agree in everything with . . . Madame Guyon,” since Mr. Murray was not a medieval Roman Catholic like Guyon.  Murray would nonetheless have done well to warn against Guyon instead of commending her very dangerous writings with a few words of warning.  See pgs. 237-239, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis. 
[4]           Pgs. 237-239, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[5]           Pgs. 480-481, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[6]           Pg. 511, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[7]           Pg. 113, The Pentecostals, Hollenweger.
[8]           Pgs. 60-63, 68-69, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[9]           Pg. 58, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[10]         Pg. 10, Why Do You Not Believe?: Words of Instruction and Encouragement for All Who Are Seeking the Lord,  Andrew Murray.  Chicago, IL:  Fleming H. Revell, 1894.
[11]         Murray wrote:
This at least you know that, although you cannot yet say, He is my Saviour, your whole soul believes that He was sent by God to be a Saviour, and that He has proved Himself to be a Saviour for others. Well, then, go with this confession to Jesus, utter it before Him in prayer, look to Him and adore Him as the Saviour of the world. Speak out what you do believe, and by this means will faith in your heart be confirmed and increased. Say: “Lord Jesus, how unbelieving I am; this, however, I do believe that Thou art the Saviour, full of love and grace, and mighty to redeem.” Forget yourselves and worship Jesus, although you dare not as yet say, that He is yours. In the midst of those exercises your faith will increase, and by and by you will insensibly come to the confidence that He is also yours. (pgs. 36-37, Why Do You Not Believe?  Words of Instruction and Encouragement for All Who Are Seeking the Lord)
[12]         Murray stated:  “[T]he lectures here [in seminary] are such that it is almost impossible to get any good from them.”  A fellow student averred:  “One learnt nothing from [the professors’] lectures” (pgs. 62, 67, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis); the sole exception was the lectures of “Opzoomer,” whose lectures bred “an enthusiasm which was wholly lacking in his older colleagues,” but this enthusiasm was for apostasy from Christianity, as he was “a rationalist . . . an empiricist . . . [and] one of the fathers of . . . Liberalism or Modernism . . . in Holland” (pg. 63, Ibid).  Because the seminary education he had received was useless, Murray wanted to go to Germany to get a real education, but his father told him to return to South Africa and begin his service as a minister instead, and he did so (pgs. 67ff., Ibid).
[13]         Pgs. 451-453, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Larsen.  The Dictionary notes: “Mott’s appeal seemed to be ‘entirely to the moral nature and there is no theology in it’ (Hopkins, Mott, p. 385). His relative indifference to theology and broad ecumenical sympathies were characteristic of the holiness evangelicalism of the late nineteenth century.”
[14]         Pg. 440, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  Of course, Murray also welcomed more orthodox men; he did not confine his welcome to the heterodox.
[15]         Pgs. 267-268, Raising Your Children for Christ, Andrew Murray.  New Kensington, PA:  Whitaker House, 1984.
[16]         Pg. 2, The Overcomer, January 1910.
[17]         Pg. 113, The Pentecostals, Hollenweger.
[18]         For example, in addition to paedobaptism and the confusion on conversion so closely associated with it, Murray believed that alcoholic “[w]ine is a good gift of God, to be received with gratitude and to be used to His glory,” so that he could not agree with those who argued that “the Bible not merely permits but enjoins abstinence from the use of wine,” although he was himself, commendably, a practitioner of total abstinence (cf. pgs. 361-365, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis; for a good presentation of the Biblical requirement, not option, of total abstinence, see The Use of Wine in the Old Testament, Robert Teachout).
[19]         Pg. 30, Abide in Christ:  Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God, Andrew Murray. Philadelphia, PA:  Henry Altemus, 1895.  Out of this utter passivity, Murray goes on to explain, activity flows—in the Keswick theology, quietism is not an end to itself, but leads to a sort of activity.
[20]         Pg. 7, Waiting on God! Daily Messages for a Month, Andrew Murray.  New York, NY:  Fleming H. Revell, 1896.  Murray is quoting a poem by Freda Hanbury.
[21]         Pgs. 136-137, Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God, Murray.  Here again, Murray goes on to explain that by means of “perfect passivity” one becomes the “active instrument” of God.
[22]         Pg. 335, The Spirit of Christ:  Thoughts on the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Believer and the Church, Andrew Murray. New York, NY: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, 1888.
[23]         Pg. 338, The Spirit of Christ:  Thoughts on the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Believer and the Church, Andrew Murray.
[24]         Pgs. 194-199, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[25]         Pg. 311, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  Murray also stated that some forms of perfectionism are “a human perversion of that truth” of “Perfection” and of true “Perfectionism.”
[26]         Pg. 313, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.

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