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Title: Thomas Erskine of Linlathen : his life and theology, 1788-1837
Author: Needham, Nicholas R.
ISNI:       0000 0000 8456 0216
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1987
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Thomas Erskine of Linlathen (1788 - 1870) was an outstanding Scottish lay theologian who combined the roles of leisurely laird and theological author and correspondent. He was brought up as an Episcopalian, but in adult life his connections were mainly with the Church of Scotland and Scottish Congregationalism. Theologically, Erskine travelled from an initial moderate Calvinism of the "moral government" variety, through Irvingism, to a final, though far from easy-going, Universalism. His first book, Remarks on the Internal Evidence for the Truth of Revealed Religion (1820), argued that Christianity's truth was demonstrated by its correspondence with man's moral and spiritual needs. It was well received by the orthodox world. His Unconditional Freeness of the Gospel (1828), however, provoked a storm of criticism for its advocacy of a doctrine of universal atonement and pardon. In 1828 Erskine met John McLeod Campbell of Row, and enthusiastically supported him during his trial and deposition from the Church of Scotland. Erskine himself became the principal target of orthodox criticism during the "Row controversy" of 1828 - 31. He and Campbell became lifelong friends. Campbell's mature Christology is seminally present in Erskine's Brazen Serpent (1831). Erskine also encountered Edward Irving at this period, and adopted his views on Christ's fallen humanity and the gifts of the Spirit. His support for the Irvingite charismatic movement, however, underwent a crisis in 1833 - 4, and he abandoned it as delusive. The Doctrine of Election (1837) concluded Erskine's breach with Calvinism. Erskine's thought shows increasing preoccupation with conscience as the criterion of truth. He came to regard God as a universal Father Who is educating all men into a filial relationship with Himself through the indwelling of Christ in the human race, and in later years he saw the ultimate salvation of all as the quintessential gospel. Erskine presents us with a fascinating study in the decline of Calvinism in an individual's life and provides a microcosmic glimpse of that process as it was to affect Scotland in general in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theology of Thomas Erskine