Friday, September 12, 2008

John Murray's Exceptions

It's been said,
many times,
many ways...

I have heard, mainly from those in the so-called "Federal Vision," many times that John Murray took a number of exceptions with the Westminster Standards. The story goes that Murray took, some say 5 and others 95, exceptions with Standards. I have looked for these exceptions, but to no avail. Does anyone know where, if at all, this story can be shown true or false?


  1. The best place to check would be the minutes of the Philadelphia Presbytery (OPC) for that time period. If I remember correctly (since I think I asked this question of John Muether), Murray hardly took any exceptions.

  2. Lane,

    Have you heard this same story I am referring to? Where did this story come from?

  3. I just did a yahoo search and found a footnote from an R. Scott Clark paper. Has anyone seen it?

    "John Murray took exception to many places in the Westminster Standards, most notably WCF 7.2 and 25.1–3. For a list of his published exceptions, see James E. Urish, “A Peaceable Plea about Subscription: Toward Avoiding Future Divisions,” in The Practice of Confessional Subscription (ed. David W. Hall; 2nd ed.; Oak Ridge, TN: Covenant Foundation, 2001), 220–21."

  4. When you read Clark's footnote, it makes it seem as though Murray took many exceptions to the Westminster Standards. Sadly, when you look up the reference, Urish makes no mention of any recorded exceptions. Urish lists seven items that are, at best, scruples. In fact, Murray had these scruples and still held to a strict subscription view of the WCF. He had only one recorded exception that I have ever been able to find, that of exclusive psalmody.

    Urish is quoting from Murray's work on the Theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith, (quoted by Urish in Scripture and Confession, a P&R book from 1973, though I believe it is also available in his collected writings). However, there is no "list" in Murray's work. All that Urish has done is to take several paragraphs and add outline-style numbers.

  5. Just to set the record straight, even though it's a little late, Exclusive Psalmody is not an exception to the WCF. EP is the teaching of the WCF 21. Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn was asked about what the divines meant in using the word psalms in WCF 21 during is ordination examination on the floor of the Philadelphia Presbytery. His answer was that there is a long answer and a short answer. Dr. Van Dixhoorn, with his offer of the long answer being declined, gave the short answer, which was "Just Psalms."

    If Mr. Murray took his position of Exclusive Psalmody as an exception to the WCF, you missed his point.

    Mr. Murray was a member of the NYNE Presbytery not Philadelphia, so it is unlikely that Philadelphia Presbytery minutes would yield very much.

  6. Hear all 150 psalms sung with little to no instrumentation.


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