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The Popular party in the Church of Scotland, 1740-1800

McIntosh, John Rattray (1989) The Popular party in the Church of Scotland, 1740-1800. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The Popular party in the eighteenth century Church of Scotland has received little attention from historians and there has never been a comprehensive analysis of its nature and ideology. This dissertation is an attempt to remedy that defect. It commences by surveying the nineteenth and twentieth century literature which has dealt with the ecclesiastical history of eighteenth century Scotland and identifies the deficiencies in this as they affect the Popular party. It is suggested that an analysis of the theological writings of members is a prerequisite for understanding the nature of the party. Prior to providing this, however, the results of an attempt to identify members of the party are analysed. It is suggested that the most workable method of identification is one based on preparedness to dissent from pro-patronage measures and decisions at the General Assembly. This provides a means of identification of the most committed members of the party. Its geographical spread is then delineated, as are the theological, ecclesiastical and secular interests of its members, and the effects of party dominance on them. The dissertation then analyses Popular theology in the areas of the premises of theology, the nature of sin and salvation, and the practical implications of theology. The picture which emerges is one of considerable theological complexity which calls in question the assumption of doctrinal unity within the party. Popular thought on secular issues is then analysed in the areas of the nature of society, government, poverty and wealth, and culture. The interplay of liberal and conservative political impetuses is examined and the theological bases of the party's secular thought elicited. The patronage dispute is analysed and an interpretation is offered, based on both the published works of the party and proceedings at the General Assembly, which argues that the fundamental religious or spiritual motivation of Popular opposition to the patronage system has not been appreciated, and that therefore the evolution of the Popular response to patronage as revealed at the General Assembly has been misconstrued. The Popular party in the Church of Scotland between 1740 and 1800 emerges as a doctrinally complex party, including within its membership the full range of doctrinal opinion from Moderatism to traditional orthodoxy. The most influential section within the party, however, was an evangelical grouping which combined doctrinal orthodoxy with an Enlightened learning. It is suggested, finally, that preoccupation with the patronage dispute had led historians to misunderstand the Church of Scotland in the latter half of the eighteenth century and to underestimate the complexity and significance of the evolving theological alignment which was the key development in the period

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Supervisor's Name: Campbell, Prof. Roy
Date of Award: 1989
Depositing User: Ms Rosemary Stenson
Unique ID: glathesis:1989-962
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:29
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/962

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