Polity, discipline and theology: the importance of the covenant in Scottish Presbyterianism, 1560-c.1700

Spurlock, R. S. (2020) Polity, discipline and theology: the importance of the covenant in Scottish Presbyterianism, 1560-c.1700. In: Vernon, E. and Powell, H. (eds.) Church Polity and Politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66. Manchester University Press: Manchester. ISBN 9780719090424

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While many of the chapters in this volume focus on conceptions of church government and the use of the keys, the present chapter will discuss early modern Scottish Presbyterian understandings of ecclesiology and who was understood to be the subject of the keys. A number of recent studies have demonstrated the fluidity of polity in seventeenth-century Britain, which is important, but the root issue underpinning the discourses and disputes were fundamentally ecclesiological. In this respect, ecclesiology is a necessary starting point for understanding polity and discipline in the Scottish Kirk, as well as where and why it differed from fellow Reformed traditions in Britain and its empire. From the Reformation in Scotland the idea of covenant served an essential function, not just for the development of a theological tradition, but for defining the Church of Scotland as based upon a covenant between God and the nation. Although this arguably represented the most ambitious ecclesiological formulation of any Reformed tradition, it resulted in disappointment and led to a shift towards an internalised and personally experienced interpretation of covenant in Scottish Protestantism.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Spurlock, Professor Scott
Authors: Spurlock, R. S.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Publisher:Manchester University Press
Copyright Holders:Copyright © Manchester University Press 2020
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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