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Title: The Free Church case, 1900-04, and its origins : a study in the relation of Church and creed
Author: Ross, Kenneth R.
ISNI:       0000 0000 2971 5828
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1987
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In 1900 the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church united to form the United Free Church of Scotland. A small minority of the Free Church declined to enter the united Church and attempted to continue the separate life of their Church. Indeed, the claim was made that it was ultra vires for Free Churchmen to join the United Free Church of Scotland. When this claim was taken to the law courts the final result, four years later, was that the name and property of the Free Church of Scotland were found to belong to the dissident minority. This study examines the law case and its origins in the history of the Free Church. The principal sources employed are the legal proceedings, the official records of the Church and the writings of its more prominent members. The finding of the study is that the ecclesiastical division which manifested itself in the law case of 1900-04 can be traced back to an earlier Union controversy which began in 1863. Indeed, there is evidence that the seeds of the division are to be found at the very foundation of the Church in 1843. Conflicting approaches in social philosophy, theology, worship and piety are described and analysed. The conclusion is that what, at bottom, divided the contesting bodies was their attitude to Creed. The United Free Church championed the view that the Church, acting in obedience to Christ her Head, had absolute power over her Creed and was free to alter, change, add to or modify her constitution and Creed. The continuing Free Church, on the contrary, held that the Church's identity was dependent on her loyalty to her settled Creed and constitution. It is argued that this difference was decisive in the law case and that it lay at the bottom of the controversy from the outset. It is concluded that the end result of the controversy and ensuing law case was the fatal disturbance of a credal balance which characterized the Church of Scotland constitution inherited by the Free Church in 1843: a balance between massive inbuilt doctrinal convervatism and a decided assertion of the Church's superiority to her Creed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available