Church and Society in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

Johnston R. McKay

The author attacks the generally-held view that the Presbyterian churches remained passive in the face of evils and injustices in the living and working conditions of the people of our cities in the mid-nineteenth century, arguing that the agendas of church courts were limited to questions of how the church administered itself. He shows how prominent ministers and congregations, such as Norman Macleod in the Barony of Glasgow, took initiatives in establishing schools, classes for adults, savings banks, leisure, seeing these as rightly not the responsibility of the institution but of the combined efforts of individuals in the congregation (whole salvation not soul salvation). Similarly in Edinburgh James Begg of Liberton campaigned for social improvement, while in Paisley Patrick Brewster reminded his fellow Christians of the intimate connection between the sacred and the secular. The author explores these and other concerns in the church at the time of the foundation of the Church Service Society (1865) such as the Westminster Confession, sabbatarianism, biblical interpretation, and the idea that the Kingdom and the Church may not be identical, naming such figures as Principal Tulloch of St Andrews and Robert Flint, minister and moral philosopher.

Volume 51 2016, p2