Absolute Surrender ~ A Book Review

In the current trend of Christian publishing there exists several separate movements to reprint some of the works of years ago. We have much to learn and there is much to be gained by learning from the past experiences and writings of our predecessors. Therefore, we can be thankful for many of these efforts, taking advantage of the insights drawn from life experiences of previous Christians. B&H Publishing Group is one of those efforts not only offering reprints with updated language, but they have undertaken the concept with some distinctive features, most recently with Andrew Murray’s Absolute Surrender.
Andrew Murray served in South Africa, where he was born, in the 1800’s. He was especially influential in missions aiding in the founding of the South African General Mission and South East Africa General Missions (which would eventually merge). While a prolific author writing more than 200 books, however he is especially well-known for his writing Humility. Having previously read Humility and being influenced by it, I was excited to read Absolute Surrender. In picking the book up though, I did not realize that Broadman & Holman’s recent edition was more than an updated adaptation but also included some additions. The publication is part of a series of influential books that they have published as part of a series referenced as Read & Reflect With the Classics. Therefore, in addition to the text, which is clear and easy to read in today’s language, they have included three additional sections meant to cause a person to reflect upon the text from a biblical perspective. These follow-up sections, called ‘Bible Study Questions’ (usually consisting of a passage of Scripture to be read and reflected upon), ‘Personal Reflections Questions,’ and ‘Prayer.’ Each is short, but put together in a way to add much value to the writing that has been read.
While calling upon the Christian’s absolute surrender to Christ, the book provides incredible hope for a believer struggling with just that. Murray systematically takes readers not just through some identifying markers and actions to surrender, but also inspires a hope and confidence that comes from that surrender. While identifying the great struggle with the flesh, and causing believers to bear the responsibility for that, readers will find themselves compelled to renounce the throne of their own life in order that Christ may truly reign in it. Therefore his words are convicting enough to create a burden for the believer, but sufficiently rooted in God’s work to provide hope and confidence in the Holy Spirit’s work in a person’s life.
However, admittedly there seems to be a great struggle within the book. Murray consistently touts a believer’s inability and thus the necessity for God’s gracious work. And yet, there are times when he comes across as contradicting those very points. At one point he describes the Holy Spirit’s work in the church and indicates that the Holy Spirit trusts them. There is a charismatic quality to his writing here that comes dangerously close to overemphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit. By those words that the Holy Spirit trusts them (them being the church) he is indicating that they are acting independent of God’s direction but there is trust that they will act according to God’s will. It is hard to reconcile this teaching with his consistent elevation of God’s work through the lives of believers.
B&H Publishing Group is doing something distinct and important for the growth of Christians in their Read & Reflect Series, but I found the writing in this book particularly lacking. Therefore it is not a book I think I would recommend. However, the series, which does not include many volumes at this point, does have some other books that may be more helpful, like Murray’s book Humility. That is perhaps a better place to start.
Click the titles to purchase either Andrew Murray’s works Humility or Absolute Surrender as part of this series.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way but instead is the result of my own reading of the book.