Friday, June 02, 2017

Andrew Murray, Mystical Quietist and Higher Life / Keswick Writer, part 5 of 7


In 1882—the year Murray’s first book, Abide in Christ,[1] appeared in English[2]—while “visiting England in search of health” and visiting “Keswick,”[3] through the influence of Boardman and Stockmayer[4] Murray added the doctrine of the Higher Life for the body to his doctrine of the Higher Life for the soul, recognizing, as Boardman had before him, the one as the natural concomitant of the other.[5]  The initial impetus to his adoption of the Faith Cure had been reading Boardman’s The Lord thy Healer,[6] and study, not of the Bible, but of “the work of Dorothea Trüdel and Dr. Cullis . . . removed from [his] mind all doubts.”[7]  Personal interaction with Stockmayer and Boardman soon led him to open avowal and bold advocacy of the Faith Cure aspect of the Higher Life.  Writing to his congregation in South Africa about his trip to Europe and his new public advocacy of the Faith Cure, Murray explained his recognition of healing by faith alone as an adjunct to sanctification by faith alone:
Let me now relate to you a few of my experiences in Europe. . . . I  desired particularly to see Pastor Stockmaier[8] . . . a truly spiritual man, of strong faith, and who now stood at the head of an institute for faith healing. . . . At . . . the Mildmay Conference[9] . . . Mr. Stockmaier was also present.  I called on him . . . Mr. Stockmaier [taught me that the] body has been redeemed . . . and, for the believer who can accept it, the Lord is ready to reveal even in the case of the body His mighty power to deliver from the dominion of sin.
      Mr. Stockmaier invited me to attend, in the course of the following week, the meetings of Dr. Boardman, writer of The Higher Christian Life, on the subject of faith healing.  Shortly before my departure from [South Africa] I had perused Dr. Boardman’s other work The Lord thy Healer . . . I now learnt that only a few months before an institute for faith healing had been opened in London under his supervision.  This institute I visited in the following week, when everything became clearer to me and I decided to ask if I could not be received as an inmate.  The reply was that . . . I would be welcome.
      I entered the institute . . . and remained in it for . . . three weeks.  It would be difficult to describe how much instruction and blessing I obtained during those weeks. . . .  But why was it necessary to enter a Home, and to remain there for so long a time?  Is not the prayer of faith the matter of a moment, just like the imposition of hands or the anointing with oil of which James speaks?  Quite true. . . . Yet in most cases time is needful . . . [t]he stay in such a Home . . . helps to . . . strengthen faith.[10] . . . Disease is a chastisement . . . [w]e ask the Lord truly to impart to the body the eternal youth of His heavenly life,[11] and . . . [acknowledge] our readiness to receive the Holy Spirit in order to infuse health into the body which He inhabits, and our readiness to live every day in complete dependence upon the Lord for our bodily welfare.  We learn to understand . . . giving and preserving health by faith . . . a more complete union of the body with Him[.][12] . . .
      One of the first things that struck me as being in conflict with my expectations was that in most cases slow progress is made with the healing process.  I thought, and others have expressed the same opinion, that if healing is an act of God’s almighty power, there can be no reason why it should not be perfected at once.[13]  This point I discussed with Dr. Boardman and others, whose reply was somewhat as follows—
      “First of all, experience has taught that at the present time most cases of healing are subject to this rule; so that, even though we cannot understand why it should be so, we have merely to observe what God actually does.[”][14] . . . I subsequently discussed the subject with Mr. Stockmaier, who stands at the head of a faith healing establishment at Hauptwal in Switzerland.  He told me how at one time he was wholly incapacitated . . . and that even after he had accepted the truth of healing by the exercise of faith, the trouble in no wise disappeared immediately.  For more than two years the [problem] continued . . . [h]e counted it a great privilege that God . . . preserve[d] him . . . [in] the body [by] the daily bestowal upon it of supernatural power . . . [instead of] immediate cure[.] . . .
      At first I could not entirely assent to this view of the matter.  I asked Dr. Boardman if it would not be a much more powerful proof . . . if the cure of disease were instantaneous and complete. . . . Would it not also be for the greater glory of God if I desired of Him this instantaneous restoration?  His answer was, . . . “Your duty is to hold fast to Him as your Healer, in whom you already have the healing of your malady [even if your body still has all the symptoms of sickness.”][15]  . . . In this point of view I was able, ultimately, wholly to acquiesce.
      So we see that in faith healing there is the same contrast as in the spiritual life[.] . . . In the well-known fifty-third of Isaiah sins and sicknesses are placed alongside of each other in a very remarkable way, and are borne together by Him in the suffering of which the chapter speaks. . . . We have severed the one from the other, and have accepted the redemption of the soul from sin as the fruit of Christ’s sufferings, but without regarding the deliverance of the body from disease as in like manner the fruit of His sufferings.[16]  The faith which says, “He has borne my sins to free me from them,” must also learn to say, “He has carried my sicknesses in order to deliver me from them also.”  . . . [F]rom the disease of the body there can be deliverance through the Spirit who dwells in the body as His temple. . . . Only yesterday I heard from a brother who has just arrived from Switzerland of a . . . girl who was . . . weak with consumption[.] . . . She heard from Mr. Stockmaier of the possibility of being cured by faith.  One night she seemed to see very clearly how the Lord had given His body for her body, just as for her soul He had poured out His soul unto death.  It seemed to her that she actually beheld the Lord[17] giving His body for her health and cure.  Next morning . . . she got up out of bed[.] . . .
      [F]aith healing . . . points the road of holiness and full consecration[.] . . . The question has arisen in my mind whether I may not perhaps possess the gift, and have the vocation, to devote myself, for a time at least, to this work.  I notice in those who are engaged in this labour that they must give almost all their time and strength to it.[18] . . . I spent last Sunday week at Männedorf, where Dorothea Trüdel labored with so much blessing. . . . I found the opportunity of discussing [these matters with] . . . Samuel Zeller . . . [h]er successor[.] . . . [H]e expressed the opinion that, if the Church were to flourish as in the earliest ages, and the leaders in the congregation were again to be characterized by true spirituality, the gift of healing would be found very much more frequently[.] . . . May the Lord in His own good time grant this![19]
 “The subject of faith healing continued to engross Mr. Murray’s attention for several years after his return to South Africa”[20] from Boardman’s Bethshan Institute of Healing.[21]  By 1884 he had published a book “in which he developed his teachings concerning healing by faith . . . he described [it] as ‘a personal testimony of my faith[.]’”[22]  He published his book despite the fact that he “acknowledges in his preface that many objections can be leveled at the doctrine of faith healing to which no satisfactory answer can at present be found.”[23]  Nevertheless, Murray argued:
Are not these glad tidings that reach us from different quarters, that the Lord is again making Himself known to His people, as of old, by the name The Lord thy Healer?  The number of witnesses daily increases who can affirm [so] from their own experience[.][24] . . . The Church has grown so unaccustomed to this action of the Spirit in curing the body, she has for so long ascribed the loss of this gift to the counsel of God[25] rather than to her own unfaith . . . that the truth has remained hidden even from the eyes of many pious expositors and theologians. . . . The Grounds for [the] Faith [Cure include] . . . Mark xvi. 18 . . . [that] the Lord Jesus, our Surety, has borne our sicknesses as well as our sins in His body . . . [that] Jesus commanded and empowered His disciples[26] both to preach the Gospel and to heal the sick. . . . [that] this is part of the work for which the Holy Spirit was given and has come down from heaven . . . 1 Cor xii. 4, 9[27] . . . [that] the healing of the body and the hallowing of the soul are very closely connected, and because in union with each other they enable us fully to know and glorify Jesus . . . Exod. xv. 26 . . . [that] the Church must expect great outpourings of the Spirit in these days, and may reckon upon this gift likewise . . . Isa xliv. 3 . . . Pentecost was but a commencement . . . [n]ow that the Lord is beginning to bestow His Spirit, we may certainly expect a new manifestation of His wondrous power.[28]  The rules for faith healing [include] . . . understand that sickness is a chastisement on account of sin . . . be assured . . . that it is the will of God to heal you . . . [since] the new life of the Holy Spirit . . . affect[s] the body not less than the soul . . . the healing power of Jesus will restore health to your body . . . claim healing for yourself . . . as . . . [a] sinner . . . claims by faith the forgiveness of sins . . . the sick one says . . . I have the healing . . . [although I] fee[l] no change and fin[d] no light . . . [and] feel no better[.] . . . Do not be astonished if the disease does not immediately take a turn for the better.  And if after some improvement the disease grows worse, do not imagine that it is all a mistake . . . act as one who realizes that health is beginning to return . . . [t]hese trials are . . . a proof that God is willing to strengthen you to be healed wholly and solely by faith in Jesus . . . testify, as a witness to the faith who knows what he says.[29] . . . 
      This new life is none other than the Holy Spirit in the body. . . . Healing and sanctification are closely united. . . . These are the main outlines of the doctrine of faith healing[.][30]
Murray with “fervency . . . [and] intensity of conviction . . . both preached and practiced the doctrines of healing by faith,”[31] so that many learned from Murray to “take no medicines for any disease.”[32]  He “never receded from the position which he took up towards faith healing in . . . [his] book[,] [which] was circulated in America . . . in French . . . [and] Dutch,” although there were “cases in which all the conditions of healing seemed to be completely fulfilled, where yet the disease refused to yield to prayer, and the death of the sick one ensued.”[33]  Nevertheless, “Murray continued for many years to follow the principles of faith healing,” teaching that “suffering, even in the believer, is due to some special sin,” avoiding doctors for decades, and suffering from various maladies, none of which was healed in the way that Christ healed in the Gospel records.  Murray suffered, for example, from:
[T]hroat trouble . . . severe injuries to his arm and his back [so that] at first he had to be assisted into the pulpit . . . [and which left him] suffering from a weak back . . . [for] years [and] . . . permanen[t] injur[y] [to] his spine . . . later years [in which he became] exceedingly deaf . . . lameness and deafness [for] years . . . decreased . . . strength . . such feeble[ness] . . . increasing bodily infirmity . . . severe illness . . . serious [infirmity such that he] had to be conveyed to a hospital . . . positive ill-health [that left him unable to] fulfil preaching engagements . . . serious influenza and bronchitis [severe enough that] [h]e never really regained strength again[.][34]
 He finally suffered from a “heavy cold with concomitant bronchitis, from which he never recovered[,] [but lingered in sickness for] . . .months,” until he finally died in delirium.[35]  Despite believing in and promulgating widely the Higher Life of the body, he suffered sickness like other men.  However, his doctrine did not, at least, lead to his own personal early death, as Murray lived a long life, although fellow ministers who believed in it saw it fail and died,[36] and even a minister in Murray’s own family died because of the Faith Cure:
Pieter F. Hugo, who was married to a niece of Mr. Murray, and was therefore the object of especial sympathy and prayer . . . developed symptoms of consumption, which compelled him to suspend his pastoral labours and threatened to terminate fatally.  Leaving his congregation in the Eastern Province he proceeded to Paarl, where he could enjoy the rest and comfort of his mother’s home and also be within easy reach of Mr. Murray’s influence. . . . Mr. Murray’s bulletins on the state of the patient’s health show how carefully he was watching the case. . . . Mr. Hugo, who was a truly pious and devoted man, was firm in the faith that he would recover.  Acting in accordance with the principle of considering himself as already healed, he undertook a long journey to Middleburg in the Central Karroo, in order to attend a ministerial conference, at which Mr. Murray was also to be present. . . . Mr. Hugo accomplished the return journey . . . and then began rapidly to weaken.  One evening he complained of a feeling of utter weariness, retired to his room, and shortly afterwards breathed his last.  His death occurred within a month of his visit to Middleburg . . . [h]is decease was a great blow to Mr. Murray, who had cherished the most confident expectation of his nephew’s recovery.[37] 
Thus, a minister and member of Murray’s own family, foolishly pretending that he was already well because of his adoption of the Faith Cure, died young; for he was, in all actuality, still sick.  What an unnecessary and tragic waste, not to mention a violation of the principles involved in the sixth commandment!  Such were the closest relatives among the unnecessary and continual production of youthful corpses, widows, widowers, and orphans among the people of God that resulted from Mr. Murray’s espousal and fervent promulgation of the Higher Life for the body.  Mr. Murray was also unable to heal his wife or prevent her from enduring great and continual suffering from disease for years, much less from dying,[38] although she “was like himself strongly convinced of the truth of faith healing.”[39]  Nor could he prevent his eldest son from being so sickly that he had to abandon his further education, nor from dying at only twenty-three.[40]  Believing that a believer’s suffering is a product of special sin is a very hard message to hold to through such suffering, grief and loss—thankfully, it is not one taught in Scripture.


See here for this entire study.


[1]           The first Dutch edition had been published in 1860.  Murray, speaking about his Abide in Christ, testified at the 1895 Keswick convention:  “I had not then . . . . [when] my book Abide in Christ was written . . . experienced all that I wrote of; I cannot say that I experience it all perfectly even now” (pg. 448, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis).
[2]           Pgs. 442, 463, 521, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  Abide in Christ, which was published after Murray’s stay at Bethshan, sold very rapidly, being recommended by men such as F. B. Meyer (pg. 56, F. B. Meyer:  A Biography, W. Y. Fullerton).
[3]           Pg. 381, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis; pgs. 61-62, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck.
[4]           Pg. 115, The Pentecostals, Hollenweger.
[5]           As the connection was entirely natural, it is not surprising that many others followed Murray and Boardman in preaching both the Higher Life of the body and the soul, so that “the rise of the healing doctrines was largely a radicalization of the perfectionist push of the Holiness teachings. . . . the connection is present in every major manifestation of the Healing movement in the late nineteenth century” (pgs. 130, 136, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, Dayton).  It is noteworthy that Murray also frequented hydropathic establishments, despite the love that advocates of spiritism and other advocates of the equivalents in that day of modern New Age energy medicine had for the hydropathic system (cf. pg. 162, Andrew Murray at Water Cure, in The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis).
[6]           Pg. 338, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[7]           Pg. 339, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[8]           “Stockmaier” and “Stockmayer” are alternative spellings of the same man’s last name.
[9]           The “the Mildmay Conference” was a “precursor of the Keswick Convention” (pg. 658, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, Larsen).
[10]         However, in the Gospels and Acts, those who had the gift of healing did not require faith in those whom they healed.
[11]         Were this prayer actually in accordance with Scripture and actually answered, not merely a gradual healing from some types of non-organic disease, but instantaneous perfect health, and eternal freedom from physical death, would result.
[12]         Note the parallel to the Keswick doctrine of sanctification—the Higher Spiritual Life is maintained only moment by moment, and any failure to continue it brings an instantaneous and total relapse to a state of utter domination by sin, and the Higher Physical Life is also only maintained moment by moment, and any failure to live the Higher Spiritual Life brings instantaneous relapse into sickness.  Neither Higher Life concept is taught in Scripture.
[13]         Indeed, the reason such a thought is so prevalent is that immediate healing is what is found in the truly miraculous healings in the Bible.
[14]         Note that “experience” is the answer to, and justification for, the radical discontinuity of the Faith Cure with the miracles of Scripture.
[15]         The Faith Cure doctrine that people can be healed but remain as sick as they were before is here set forth.  It has led many to an early grave.
[16]         Murray’s parallel only holds if the deliverance from sin God gives in sanctification is that of the instantaneous entrance into the Higher Life by means of the second blessing; this instantaneous deliverance can be paralleled with the Faith Cure which claims to give instantaneous miraculous healing, although in both cases neither the Higher Spiritual nor Physical Life is quite as high as its proponents affirm; but if the historic Baptist doctrine that progressive sanctification is a process of growth in holiness that is completed only in glorification is true, and perfect freedom from sin’s effects on body and soul awaits the eschaton, then the fact that one trusts in Christ for both a glorified and genuinely perfect and sickness-free body and a genuinely perfect and sin-free person at the time of the future resurrection does not involve any kind of unbiblical severance of anything.
[17]         Note how the restoration of other miraculous powers, such as visions, goes hand in hand with the Faith Cure.  The alleged restoration of the gift of healing will bring with it the alleged restoration of the other miraculous gifts.  Likewise, the healings and the visions, tongues, and so on, will bear the same sort of discontinuity with Scripture.
[18]         Neither Christ nor the Apostles had to devote almost all of their time and strength to healing instead of preaching, because they had the real ability to miraculously heal.  Only when allegedly miraculous healings are gradual, and take weeks, months, and years to supposedly work, does one need to devote all one’s time to such “healing.”  The Lord Jesus would have emptied out all Faith Cure establishments by curing all their occupants in a few minutes.
[19]         Murray’s two letters to his Congregation at Wellington, reproduced on pgs. 339-345 of The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  Note how easily Murray’s wish for the restoration of miraculous healing slides into a desire for a restoration of all the miraculous gifts of the “earliest ages [of] the Church.”
[20]         Pg. 345, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[21]         Pg. 352, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[22]         Pg. 345, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[23]         Pg. 345, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[24]         Note the appeal to experience and testimonial and the evident influence of William Boardman’s book on the Faith Cure.
[25]         That is, for Murray, cessationism is a faithless error that must be overthrown and replaced with continuationism.
[26]         That is, according to Murray (if not according to Scripture considered in light of its context), not the Apostles only and those on whom they laid hands, but every disciple of Christ in all ages is commanded and empowered miraculously to heal people.
[27]         Note in 1 Corinthians 12:4-9, that if the gifts found in the passage are a proof-text for the Faith Cure in modern times, they are equally a proof-text for all the other sign gifts, such as tongues.
[28]         Note the assumption that Spirit baptism is a post-conversion event for the dispensation of grace.  If all that was involved in Pentecost in Acts two is for modern times, not the gift of healing only, but all the sign gifts, should be restored, as affirmed in Pentecostalism.  Murray supports his false doctrine by an anti-contextual appeal to a passage in Isaiah 45 that is actually about Millennial blessing on Israel.
[29]         Of course, the notion that one has been “healed” but remains sick and continues to worsen is in radical discontinuity with Biblical miraculous healing, is contrary to all sense, and is very dangerous advice to give sick people.  A person who acts as if he is getting well when he is actually worsening will cling with a death-grip to delusion and view taking medicine as sin, instead of abstaining from so doing as sin.
[30]         Pgs. 345-348, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  Minor changes in capitalization have been introduced and italics eliminated.
[31]         Pg. 352, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[32]         Pg. 475, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  The individual who testified to having learned this lesson from Mr. Murray also testified that Murray taught him “to forsake all commentaries on the Bible and look only to the teaching of the Holy Ghost.”
[33]         Pg. 349, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  DuPlessis speculates, however, that Murray “felt with increasing force the difficulties urged against the doctrine” (see pgs. 349-352, Ibid).  Whatever he may or may not have felt, no repentance for teaching such error or renunciation of it ever followed.
[34]         Pgs. 351-352, 381, 430, 466, 477, 491, 494, 500-501, 506-512, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.  The list is not comprehensive.
[35]         Pgs. 506-512, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[36]         For example:  “An exceedingly earnest and capable young missionary . . . was seized with an internal malady . . . [a] general request was issued for intercession.  Mr. Murray himself, accompanied by his colleague . . . J. R. Albertyn, proceeded to . . . where the sick man lay, in order to lay his hands on him and pray for him.  A few days later the following message was . . . made public:  . . . [‘]We . . . expect a complete recovery.  With marvelous calmness, rest and peace, and in childlike faith Brother Stofberg [the sick missionary] rests assured that the Lord is healing him.  May God’s great name be at this time more and more glorified by His children!’  Yet notwithstanding . . . Mr. Stofberg died within three weeks, and the faith of many who were awaiting news of his restoration was grievously staggered.  Mr. Murray ascribed this failure of faith and prayer to effect the recovery of the sick man to the low state of the Church, which had neither truly apprehended the truth nor exercised the faith that is able to save and to heal” (pg. 350, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis).  That is, this minister died, not because the Higher Life Faith Cure was a delusion, but because not enough people were committed enough to its truth to make it work.
[37]         Pgs. 349-350, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[38]         Pgs. 486-487, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[39]         Pg. 351, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.
[40]         Pg. 487, The Life of Andrew Murray, DuPlessis.

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