This popular history offers a broad sweep of major themes in the story of the post-reformation Church of Scotland, century by eventful century. Accessible, informed and engaging, it is written for church people wishing to learn more of their story and also for general readers interested in the history of a significant Scottish institution.
The headline events and key issues of each century are explored:
. 16th - the aftermath of Reformation; John Knox and Mary Queen of Scots and the laying of foundations for a new presbyterian church;
. 17th - the struggles between presbyterian democratic concepts of leadership and episcopacy, kirk and king, crown and covenant, leading to the 1690's establishment of the Kirk as the national church of Scotland;
. 18th - official recognition of a separate Scottish Episcopal Church; fragmentation and splits within the presbyterian establishment; theological and political controversies underlying these;
. 19th - the rise of foreign missions; development of biblical criticism; the major split of the 1843 Disruption;
. 20th - the great reunion of 1929 followed by the kirk's 'glory days' with membership peaking mid-century 1.3 million and its subsequent decline; new ventures - the church extension movement, women's ordination, acceptance of gay ministers;
. 21st - the renewal of mission, the work of the church today and tomorrow.
'This book should be essential reading for those who want to know something about the DNA of the Church of Scotland. In reading it we may see some repeating patterns of behaviour and in reading it carefully we may avoid repeating some of our worst excesses. Finlay Macdonald has used both his knowledge and his affection for the Church to give us an accessible history of four centuries of our life and, for many years to come this will be a textbook for the ordinary member who wants to better understand what has made us what we are.' -- Very Rev Dr John Chalmers
'The history of Scotland over the past millennium is inextricably linked with that of the Kirk and in this wonderfully accessible book, Finlay Macdonald provides a history of the Kirk until the present. But this is much, much more than just a history book. Macdonald explains the politico-religious and legal debates imbuing Scottish society for centuries and throughout brings to life the theological context - changing over time but continually important. At times one concludes there is not one Scotland but many and while true of many countries, Finlay Macdonald finishes with an intriguing vision of a one Scotland future. A real page turner and one I will return to time and again.' -- Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Aberdeen University.
'You couldn't ask for a better guide to lead you down the highways - and by-ways - of the history of the Church of Scotland than Finlay Macdonald. Grounded in solid historical scholarship and his first hand knowledge of the workings of the Kirk, this is an accessible and concise history highlighting the controversies and debates, century by century, which formed the Church as it is today. Finlay Macdonald writes with insight and a lightness of touch. A fine book for the interested general reader and a good refresher for those who have forgotten about the 'Auld Lichts' and 'New Lichts'.' -- Rev Calum MacLeod, Minister of St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh
'A remarkable achievement. Finlay Macdonald effortlessly guides the reader through five centuries from the Protestant Reformation to the present using simple terms that disguise his perception, precision and knowledge. This accessible story of the life of the Kirk in Scotland answers fundamental questions about what the Church of Scotland has been and is today and how it has shaped Scottish life and identity. Anyone and everyone interested in Scotland would benefit from reading this book.' -- Jane Dawson, John Laing Professor of Reformation History, University of Edinburgh
'A fascinating account of the history of the Church of Scotland from the Reformation to the present. The reader is led through highs and lows, periods of peace and times of conflict illustrating how the Church has arrived at where it is today. Thoughtful connections between past and present make for an enjoyable and informative read. I highly commend this book to Church people and beyond.'-- Very Rev Bill Hewitt, Joint Clerk of the Presbytery of Glasgow.
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