Book Recommendation: The OLD Evangelicalism

Iain Murray has provided, yet another, excellent new book about old truths in The OLD Evangelicalism: Old Truths for a New Awakening. Divided into seven potent chapters, The OLD Evangelicalism provides a much needed theological jolt to the nearly dead carcass of contemporary evangelicalism. This volume’s seven chapters provide excellent summaries of the essential teaching that was the hallmark of the evangelicalism of previous centuries. Each chapter is full of the words of the proclaimers and practitioners of the old evangelicalism weaved together masterly by the historian-theologian Murray. In additon, each chapter has a section of Additional Notes featuring longer quotations from key figures of the old evangelicalism on the topics discussed within the chapter. Each chapter also includes a conclusion which summarizes the practical applications of the content of the chapter for today’s evangelicalism. Though some criticize Murray for his lack of historical objectivity, I believe on of his strengths is his ability to analyze the past with the perception of a theologian and a pastor, then make practical suggestions based upon these discoveries. The result is a readable, practical, theological history.

The titles of the chapters in themselves provide an excellent summary of the content of this book. The chapters are titled as follows:

  1. Preaching and Awakening: Facing the Main Problem in Evangelism
  2. Spurgeon and True Conversion
  3. ‘Christ Our Righteousness’ – God’s Way of Salvation
  4. The Cross – The Pulpit of God’s Love
  5. What Can We Learn from John Wesley
  6. Assurance of Salvation
  7. Christian Unity and Church Unity

Chapter one describes the content of the gospel preaching of the old evangelicalism. This preaching begins with the bad news of God’s holiness and righteous judgment against sin and proceeds to the proclamation of forgiveness by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ.

Chapter two focuses on true conversion using Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s personal testimony as evidence. Murray also compiles an impressive ensemble of the teaching of Spurgeon and others to show the importance of this topic.

Chapter three focuses on the importance of the imputed righteousness of Christ in the gospel of the old evangelicalism.

In chapter four the imporantance of the message of the cross of Christ is explored the title of the chapter is based upon a beautiful quote by St. Augustine which states: “The cross was a pulpit in shich Christ preached his love to the world.”

Chapter five asks the question: “What Can We Learn From John Wesley?” In this chapter, Murray continues to glean insights from the life of this greatly used man of God from the Great Awakening. Following some of the trails previously blazed in his Wesley and Men Who Followed, Murray highlights some of the key lessons that can be learned by all serious Christians.

In chapter six Murray deals with the question of “Assurance of Salvation”. Murray argues for a twofold basis for assurance (as opposed to a threefold basis which includes the subjective inner working of the Holy Spirit) grounded in the promises of the gospel and the inward evidence of God’s grace in our lives (i.e., a transformation of character). While Murray agrees that the subjective witness of the Holy Spirit is given for full assurance for some, he refuses to make this the highest basis of assurance. I think Murray is here trying to balance those who emphasize their feelings as their basis for assurance while ignoring the gospel promises and change in desires that is emphasized in Scripture. This is a needed corrective, but I believe that Murray goes too far in making it.

In the seventh and final chapter Murray distinguishes between Christian unity and church unity. Although ideally these are the same, in reality (because of the fall) a distinction between the two must be recognized. Christian unity refers to the biblical teaching that all believers are members of the body of Christ regardless of their geographical location, religious denomination, or ethnicity. Church unity refers to unity between churches and between denominations. Murray argues the importance of recognizing and maintaining Christian unity, but not by creating an artificial church unity that removes denominational distinctives. Our committment to the truth should both foster Christian unity (which exalts essential gospel doctrine as important) and negate Church unity (which minimizes all doctrine as unimportant).

What a contrast this content rich book is to the popular programatic approaches to the modern churches woes! A return to the passionate proclamation of these great truths will once again shake society as they have in the past. As Spurgeon once said, “Here is the day for the man! Where is the man for the day?”

Another review is available by Mack Tomlinson on the publisher’s website (Banner of Truth). By clicking the link embedded in the picture of the cover above or the text of the title will take you to Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service‘s website. This is an excellent resource for good prices on great books. I could not find the book on Amazon.

2 comments

  1. Pastor Steve,

    I am one that would be all for reviving the old evangelicalism. I grow weary of new evangelicalism and ecumenism. Good post I’ll have to read that book.

    growing in grace,

    brother John

Join the conversation . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s