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Title: The crown rights of the Redeemer : a Reformed approach to sovereignty for the National Church in the 21st century
Author: MacLean, Marjory A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis argues that the Church of Scotland is hampered in the proper exercise of its inherent power of spiritual jurisdiction by the predominance of a model of sovereignty that owes more to secular political science than to Christian theology. Chapter One analyses sovereignty from a Reformed theological perspective, founding on a prior doxological conception of the sovereignty of God. The result is a model of ‘diakonal’ sovereignty expressed in covenant relation between God and his people. Chapter Two describes the emergence of a conception of the relationship of authority between Church and state in post-Reformation Scotland that relied excessively on a ‘Two Kingdoms’ theory of authority. Chapter Three describes the constitutional crisis produced by the events of the 1840s, and the solution that was enshrined in the Church of Scotland Act of 1921 and the Fourth Article Declaratory appended thereto. This settlement is useful for asserting the Church’s internal freedom to regulate spiritualia; but as a model of a legally sovereign institution, it was always constitutionally imperfect and obsolescent. Chapter Four traces the fate of the settlement in the last eighty years. The Church’s legal privilege has diminished, and its independence been threatened by legislation and case-law; meanwhile the nation state has fragmented to such an extent that it may no longer have the ability to guarantee the Church’s freedoms under the terms of the Act. Chapter Five recounts fourteen conversations held with men of experience and influence in the field of Church-state relations; conversations in which issues of Establishment (now barely relevant in the constitution of the Church), religious human rights (a partial, but inadequate alternative basis of religious liberty) and spiritual freedom itself (a separate matter from spiritual jurisdiction) were discussed in depth. Chapter Six concludes that a new philosophy of legal authority is needed to replace the one supporting the 1921 Act and the Articles. It must be a philosophy of service not domination; and it should not be enslaved to any particular understanding of sovereignty, not even a temptingly traditional, Scottish model. It must serve ecclesia semper reformanda and the Church as communio, not as societas perfecta. This produces a suggested re-writing of the Fourth and Sixth Articles Declaratory, on the separation of jurisdiction and the relationship between the Church and the civil magistrate. Only such a re-writing can restore the relevance of constitutional foundation of the Church of Scotland and defend the spiritual freedom the Church must demand - to obey God above all earthly authority.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available