Church authority and non-subscription controversies in early 18th century Presbyterianism

Sealy, Charles Scott (2010) Church authority and non-subscription controversies in early 18th century Presbyterianism. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The practice of confessional subscription, or giving assent to a confession of faith through signing a formula of approbation, was the subject of debate among Presbyterian Churches in the early eighteenth century. While other studies have examined the local controversies, this thesis offers a comprehensive examination of the question of subscription and the connections between the debates among English Dissenters, in the Church of Scotland, the General Synod of Ulster, the Synod of Philadelphia and the Presbytery of Charleston. It identifies the common background and influences, especially in questions of ecclesiastical authority in the Church of England that preceded and greatly influenced the subscription controversy, which itself was essentially a debate over Church power. The discussions within the different Church bodies are reviewed with the connections between the bodies being highlighted. The debates began with the attempt to introduce subscription among English Dissenters leading to the Salters’ Hall Debate of 1719. Although there was not an open challenge to the Westminster Confession of Faith in the Church of Scotland, the tradition of subscribing inherited from emigrants and the involvement of ministers in correspondence with other Churches influenced the developments elsewhere. Next the development of Irish Presbyterianism from both English and Scottish traditions is shown followed by a discussion of the actual controversy in the General Synod of Ulster. In a chapter on the Synod of Philadelphia an interpretation of the American Adopting Act (1729) within the context of the international debate is offered. The closing chapter covers the much overlooked Presbytery of Charleston with insights from sources that have not previously been studied for that Church’s history.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Presbyterian, non-subscription, nonsubscription, subscription, confession of faith, Church of Scotland, Salters' Hall, subscriber, non-subscriber, nonsubscriber, Adopting Act, Pacific Act, church authority, Belfast Society
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Hazlett, Prof. W. Ian P.
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Rev Scott Sealy
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1792
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:46

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