Here's Why Carl Trueman Recommends John Murray's Book "The Redemption"
AS A NEW BELIEF IN THE MID-EIGHTS, I was always on the lookout for books that would help me grow more in the Christian faith.
Having neither grown up in a Christian home nor attended church meetings, my knowledge of the Bible and its teaching was almost nonexistent. I knew a few things about God, about sin, and a bit about Jesus Christ. For the rest, although a student of the prestigious Cambridge University, my theological knowledge was inferior to that of a ten-year-old kid who took catechism classes.
For this reason, I was on the lookout for good basic books on Christian doctrine. In his generosity, a local pastor gave me a copy of James Packer's book, The Words in Question. This introduced me to the basics of evangelical theology.
Then someone recommended that I get a copy of John Murray's book The Redemption. I had never heard of this author, nor the manager of the local evangelical bookstore! But he hastened to order my copy. When the book arrived, I must admit that I felt a touch of disappointment. To be honest, I had expected to receive a larger volume, rather than this little paperback. However, my disappointment did not survive my reading of Chapter 1 alone.
EUROPRESSE. 254 pages. $ 19.95 // € 14.90
This study of redemption and atonement is a classic piece of biblical theology. John Murray systematically explains the two facets of redemption:
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In this book, John Murray demonstrates how my salvation is connected to the work of God, both in eternity for its planning, and in time for its execution in the person and work of his Son. , as well as in its application to individuals by the work of the Holy Spirit. I had never really seen anything like it before. This is how this little book accomplishes three things of major importance to me. He showed me how eternity and time come together in salvation. It reveals how this salvation is a matter of the Trinity, a work rooted in the very identity of God. It also allows us to see how this gives meaning to the Bible as a whole.
Of course, John Murray is not doing anything exceptional. It is content to build on the rich tradition of churches resulting from the Reformation, a tradition which places each of these points in the foundation of their testimony. As a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at the prestigious Theological Seminary in Westminster, USA, John Murray loved the foundational texts of this stream and the theology they teach. He seeks to explain this distinctive theology, particularly in its relation to salvation.
More specifically, John Murray shows how the order of salvation is articulated in a way that also relates to the history of salvation. A distinction can be made between the two by saying that the order of salvation is about how the individual appropriates salvation. Election, calling by God, justification, sanctification and glorification are its basic elements.The history of salvation, for its part, focuses on the acts of God in history, more specifically as regards their climax in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, which provides the basis for the order of the Lord. hi
Thus, the book begins with a careful analysis of the nature of the atonement. This is the land of salvation history. The incarnation and death of Christ are understood against the background of God’s love in eternity for those whom he has chosen to save from their sin and its eternal consequences. Then the cross itself is understood in terms of the wrath of God against sin, the imputation of that sin to Christ, and the Old Testament system of sacrifices of which it is the fulfillment. John Murray's perspective is deeply particularistic in the sense that the death of Christ does not benefit all men without exception but only those whom God has chosen.
Then, in the second section of the book, John Murray examines the implications of Christ's death for the salvation of the individual believer. It deals with the various elements that make up the order of salvation. What emerges is a smooth movement, from eternity to time, from the work of God in Christ to his work in the believer.
The book has its reviews. Those who oppose what they call a "limited atonement" repudiate his particularistic perspective of redemption. They see it as a restriction on God's love and a dissonance with New Testament passages that they believe support the universality of God's desire for the salvation of all. Other critics, even within the tradition to which John Murray belongs, disagree with his position, or at least some ways of reading John Murray. They see it as a failure to clearly distinguish between justification and sanctification. In this preface, I will leave these debates aside, preferring to let John Murray answer.
The book in your hand is a miniature masterpiece of theology. Each page respectfully treats subjects of great theological importance. Whether you finish reading it by agreeing or not with its author, you will find that this reading will have sharpened and clarified your own thinking and reflection.
Carl R. Trueman Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.