John Murray On Systematic Theology

When any generation is content to rely upon its own theological heritage and refuses to explore for itself the riches of divine revelation, then declension is already under way and heterodoxy will be the lot of the succeeding generation. The powers of darkness are never idle and in combating error each generation must fight its own battle in exposing and correcting the same. It is light that dispels darkness and in this sphere light consists in the enrichment which each generation contributes to the stores of theological knowledge.

Much of the pleading for adaptation of the gospel to the needs of this generation is suspect. For it is too often a plea for something other than the gospel. Far more important is the reminder that each generation must be adapted to the gospel. It is true, however, that the presentation of the gospel must be pointed to the needs of each generation. So it is with theology. a theology which does not build on the past ignores our debt to history and naively overlooks the fact that the present is conditioned by history. A theology that relies upon the past evades the demands of the present.

The progressive correction and enrichment which theology undergoes is not the  exclusive task of great theologians. It often falls to the lot of students with mediocre talent to discover the oversights and correct the errors of the masters. In orthodox tradition we may never forget that there is yet much land to be possessed, and is both the encouragement and the challenge to students of the wonderful works of God and particularly of his inscripturated (sic) Word to understand that all should address themselves to a deeper understanding of these unsearchable treasures of revelation to the end that God’s glory may be made more fully manifest and his praises declared to all the earth.*

HT: Richard Barcellos

*John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray V. 4 (Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 1982), 8-9

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