Friday, August 9, 2013

Book Review: Wesley an Men Who Followed

Title: Wesley and Men Who Followed

Author: Iain H. Murray
Publisher: The Banner of Truth Trust
Published: 2003
Typeset: 12/14 pt Galliard
Pages: 263
Genre: Non-Fiction - Biography
Binding: Hardback
Price: $27.00

Wesley and Men Who Followed is a wonderful marriage of delight and disappointment! Iain Murray has given us a grand view into the life and ministry of John Wesley, the founder of what we know as Methodism.

The purpose of the author seems to be the fulfillment of a personal debt to those men and institutes who influenced Murray. Murray writes, "I owe much to men who either were Methodist or had been so in times past."

The theme of Wesley and Men Who Followed is a historical and biographical explanation of a movement that expanded globally and remains after some three hundred years.

Murray's thesis centers on a defense of Wesley and his flawed theology.

Murray used narration to tell the story of Wesley and the Methodist influence around the world. In using narration Murray takes the reader chronologically through Wesley's life and the development of his theology. Murray also told the story of three other men who carried on the work and message of Wesley.

I found Wesley and Men Who Followed to be very interesting and easy to read. One can read this book easily in three or four sittings. I found Murray to be both accurate in much detail and information. Murray is an able researcher. However, I found coupled with Murray's usual objectivity, some subjective license. Murray left out much of Wesley's flawed thinking and theology.

It seems that Murray allowed his "debt" to excuse or defend Wesley's flawed theology more than a clear explanation of Methodism. I hate to make these charges since Murray is one of my favorite writers. I delighted in much Murray's research and information on this highly influencial leader. I was equally disappointed in Murray's treatment of the questionable and/or bad theology of Wesley.

Murray seemed to be making much effort in providing a place in church history Wesley and his movement. Murray glossed over Wesley commitment to Arminianism, Wesley's attack on both predestination and justification and baptismal regeneration.

To Murray's credit is the fact that he attempted to detail and explain Wesley's position on "perfectionism." Murray tried to be objective but sadly failed. This could have been an excellent opportunity to chronicle Wesley's life and to demonstrate the horrendous effect of his theology on the church both then and now.

I disagree with Murray's main arguments that Methodism has a positive place in church history. I feel as if what ever debt Murray felt he owed due to the heavy influences of Methodism on his life and ministry prevented this book from being a major expose of flawed doctrine.

Many of the conclusions drawn by Murray are not derived logically from the evidence of Wesley's own words, thoughts, actions, and practices. Murray's book suggest the possibility that Wesley was a victim of his time and the prevailing theological atmosphere of his day. Murray's book suggests the possibility that there is legitamacy to Wesley's theology.

As far as the qualifications of the author, Iain Murray has been in the Christian ministry since 1955. In 1957 Murray co-founded The Banner of Truth Trust serving as the senior editor until 1996. Murray served as an assistant to Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the Westminster Chapel. Murray pastored Grove Chapel in Camberwell, London and St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Sydney. He is has authored numerous books including a number of biographies.

This book is a hardback. There are minimal illustrations. Murray makes extensive use of footnotes. The typology is 12/14 point Galliard. There are no maps. The book contains and author and general index. There is no bibliography.

In conclusion I was disappointed. Murray who is first class author and outstanding biographer missed the mark this time. Murray seemed to defend a great man with flawed theology.

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