The Life and Thought of John McLeod Campbell

Shanks, Douglas A (1958) The Life and Thought of John McLeod Campbell. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The aim of this work is an attempt to consider in detail the life and thought of John McLeod Campbell and, in particular, his teaching upon the nature of the atonement. As an introduction to our study, we outline certain elements in Campbell's youth and especially in the early years of his ministry at Row which were formative in his later development. His relationship with his father, made more intimate by the premature death of his mother, was a determining factor in his life as was the spirit of independence and zealous resolution which characterised his work at Row. Part One deals with Campbell's life beginning with the proceedings against him in the courts of the Church, In less than three years, Ms youthful vigour and the concerted attempt to break down the barriers of pride and self-delusion among his people had evinced opposition which eventually came to the notice of the Presbytery. The celebrated libel and deposition followed in due course and Campbell was ejected from the Church of Scotland to pursue his search after truth independent of the fellowship and concern of his brethren inside the Church. Yet the loneliness of deposition did not embitter him. Campbell spent his life preaching and ministering wherever he was given opportunity and we find the outcome of his learning and experience in his book, The Nature of the Atonement. Bart Two consists of a detailed study of Campbell's teaching as set forth in his trials of 1830 and 1831. He was accused of holding three particular doctrines which were declared contrary to the teaching of the Bible, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the General Assembly Act of 1720; namely, the doctrines of universal atonement and universal pardon, and the doctrine that assurance is of the essence of faith and necessary to salvation. His own evidence as well as that presented by the churchmen who opposed him is here studied and compared. In Part Three, we consider an analysis of Campbell's developed thought as set down in The Nature of the Atonement, and this later teaching is finally compared with the earlier. In our concluding chapter, we find that four principal features of Campbell's thought emerge for our consideration, (1) The Fatherhood of God demands that the Father's love for all mankind act in accordance with the whole character of God. (2) The doctrine of the incarnation is the source of our thought concerning man's salvation, out of which springs the doctrine of atonement. (3) The Westminster Confession of Faith, although an important and informative document, valuable to our understanding of the faith, ought not to be used as a proof of heresy and orthodoxy in matters pertaining to Christian doctrine, (4) While insisting ultimately that the atonement has an objective aspect, this must be coupled with an individual's subjective acceptance of it as a power working in him. After stating these features in summary, they are further considered and discussed by comparison with the thought of two outstanding theologians of the Church of Scotland, namely, James Denney and Donald Baillie. Finally, looking at the church to-day, we attempt to comment upon Campbell's thought and these four features in particular as they are relevant and important for us. Our aim throughout has been to walk with John McLeod Campbell, to study the formative events in his early life and the gifts which he gave to the world, and to discern in modern theology and in our present situation the many ways in which we are indebted to this devoted servant of God.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Philosophy of Religion, Biographies
Date of Award: 1958
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1958-79234
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2020 11:25
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 11:25

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