John Murray And The Godly Life -- By: John J. Murray

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 01:1 (Jan 2009)
Article: John Murray And The Godly Life
Author: John J. Murray

John Murray And The Godly Life

John J. Murray

Professor John Murray (1898 –1975) was regarded in his own life-time as one of the leading Reformed theologians in the English-speaking world. Dr J. I. Packer in a foreword to the latest edition of Murray’s Principles of Conduct has said: “Had John Murray been blessed with the luminous literary grace of a C S Lewis, or the punchy rhetoric of a Charles Hodge, his name would have been put up in lights for the past half century as the finest theologian of our time.... Few have yet appreciated him at his true worth.”1

He was born on the 14th of October, 1898 in the parish of Creich, which is in the county of Sutherland in the Highlands of Scotland. He was reared by God-fearing parents who by the time of his birth had changed their allegiance from the Free Church of Scotland to the newly formed Free Presbyterian Church. After his higher education at Dornoch Academy, Murray served as a soldier in World War I, losing the sight of his right eye. He studied at Glasgow University where he came to a decision to prepare for the Christian ministry. His church sent him to study at Princeton Theological Seminary. Within two years of graduating he was invited back by Casper Wistar Hodge, Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton, to be his assistant. This he did for one year before joining the faculty of the newly formed Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. There he taught successive generations of students until his retirement in 1966, when he returned to his native Scotland.

The aim of this study is to examine the godliness that characterized his life. We look first at the influences that shaped the formation of his godly life.

I. The Shaping Of The Godly Life

1. The Spiritual Life In The Parish In Which He Was Brought Up

At the end of the eighteenth century the parish of Creich had been powerfully affected by the gospel. This took place under the ministry of George Rainy. A native of Aberdeenshire, he was inducted as minister of the parish in 1771. According to Donald Sage he had a struggle mastering the Gaelic language: “In other circumstances this drawback would have been fatal to his usefulness as a minister. But Mr. Rainy was the very model of a sincere, practical Christian; he preached the Gospel more by his life than by his lips.”2 It is said that “over 100 men could openly testify to a personal work of grace and give a reason for the hope that was in them.”

The depth of the religious conviction among the people was revealed when a minister...

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