May 8: Death of Professor John Murray

We Thank God  on Every Remembrance of You

When Professor John Murray retired from Westminster to return to his beloved land of Scotland, he attended for the last time the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1966.  The delegates there gave a memorial to him which captured the man and his ministry perfectly when it simply quoted the Pauline expression, “We thank God on every remembrance of you.”  That said it all to their fellow minister.

Fast forward in your mind nine years to the Free Church of Creich in Scotland and its cemetery where the remains of John Murray were being buried in 1975.  Five hundred people from all over the world had gathered to hear the memorial messages.  A prince of Israel  had indeed fallen on May 8, 1975.

Between these two events, John Murray had served his country in World War I,  where he had fought with the famous Black Watch regiment.  The loss of his eye came from that time of military service.

Education included the M.A. degree from Glasglow University in 1923.  Then his ministerial degree (the older ThB) and Th.M. came from Princeton Theological Seminary in the United States.  Returning to Scotland at New College at Edinburgh University, he returned to Princeton Seminary at a pivotal year, namely, 1929.   That year, Princeton’s Board of Trustees was reorganized and Westminster Theological Seminary was begun.  John Murray joined the faculty of Westminster Seminary.

From that time until his retirement in 1966, hundreds of students sat under this “saintly scholar.”  He really equipped the student saints to go forth and minister the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ on a sound foundation of Biblical truth.  John Murray also capsulized that same Biblical truth in several books he wrote.  It might be interesting to sum up those books, which this contributor used all during his pastoral ministry.

Church officers in our Reformed churches  would do well to have a firm understanding of both Christian Baptism, and Divorce.   Both of course would be profitable to the Christian in the pew as well.   All those with the gift of evangelism, as well as Evangelism teams going out weekly, must have an understanding of the book Redemption Accomplish and Applied.  In fact, all Christians should read this book.  Then Principles of Conduct are a reminder of the Christian life.  If any book of the Bible is a “must” book to consider the themes of sin, salvation, sanctification, sovereign election, and service, the book of Romans fills those themes perfectly.  And Murray’s commentary on The Epistle to the Romans is just what is needed to comprehend the great apostle’s words and thoughts.

After John Murray retired in 1966, after having lived 68 years as a bachelor, he took a wife, Miss Valerie Knowlton on December 7, 1967. To the surprise of some, she was not Scottish, but rather was a New Englander, born and raised in the State of Maine. Two children would be born to the union.

Words to Live By: John Murray had many “children of the faith” in his years in teaching in this Reformed school of the prophets.  Let them remember him in their current ministries as they pass on what they have heard to others also who will be able to teach still others in the history of the church.


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