This is a review of The Life of John Murrayby Iain H. Murray (2007, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust). The review is written by Rev. David Wegener, a theological educator who, with his wife, Terri, works with the Reformed Baptists in Lusaka, Zambia as a missionary of the Presbyterian Church in America's mission arm, Mission to the World.
John Murray was the finest Presbyterian theologian of the twentieth century. Recently, I had a chance to read his biography written by Iain Murray (no blood relation). I love the way Iain Murray writes history: to instruct, to edify, to rebuke, and to encourage. Here is what I learned.
John Murray was born in the Highlands of Scotland and came from a strong believing family. His father was ordained to the Presbyterian eldership at the young age of 27 and was known for his physical strength, his integrity and his above-and-beyond fairness. Born in 1898, John was the last of eight children, six boys and two girls.
Murray was blessed in the home in which he was raised. His father was the finest example of genuine godliness that John ever encountered. Four Murray boys fought for the allies in WWI and only two returned. John was one of the sons who returned, although he had lost his right eye to shrapnel. He was given a glass eye and it so closely resembled his other eye even those who knew him well forgot it.
During his school years in Scotland, Murray was an excellent student. In 1923, following the war, he received an M.A. from the University of Glasgow. The following summer the Northern Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church took him under care as a candidate for the gospel ministry and he went to America to study at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Princeton was passing through the most unsettled period in its long history. In 1921 B.B. Warfield had died, leading J. Gresham Machen to remark, “It seemed to me that Old Princeton... died when Dr. Warfield was carried out” (p.21).
At that time there were three groups battling for control of the Presbyterian Church...