We should trust the Bible, says Timothy Paul Jones, because it is ‘grounded in the words of a man who died and rose again’ (p.111). Jones’s basic presupposition is this: ‘If we live in a world where it is possible…
- Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
- ISBN: 978-1-60178-149-9
- Pages: 314
- Price: 0.00
The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition
– Atonement, Saving Faith and the Gospel Offer in Scotland (1718-1799)
Reformed Heritage Books
302 pages, $19.00
Star rating: 3
In 1733 four ministers left the Church of Scotland, establishing the ‘Secession’ church. They were strong advocates of the theology of ‘The Marrow of Modern Divinity’ (written in 1645 by one Edward Fisher of London – VanDoodewaard has a helpful chapter about the work and its presumed author), which had caused controversy in the Church of Scotland some years earlier. This controversy was not the occasion of the secession but Marrow theology has always been taken to characterise the Secession churches.
The author’s purpose in this volume is to ascertain more exactly the degree of continuity of Marrow theology in the Associate Presbytery and Synod (the Secession churches) from 1733 to1799. In doing so, he aims to show that the current appreciation of Marrow theology is part of ‘a continuity of a vibrant, historic stream of gospel-focused, Christ-centred, Reformed theology’.
By examining the writings and sermons of numerous ministers, along with church records and other documents, VanDoodewaard establishes his case. He discusses their teaching on the atonement, saving faith, assurance and the ‘free offer’ of the gospel and shows in contrast to the opponents of the Marrow how the Marrow brethren insisted that a free, universal offer of the gospel is biblically required and in full harmony with particular redemption. A brief chapter touching on the nineteenth century shows how the ‘free offer’ lost its theological context, as the basic federal framework and the theology of the atonement were undermined. The author concludes that, nonetheless, the Marrow’s evangelical Calvinism was a potent force in Scottish Reformed theology and, through ‘migration, colonialism and missionary endeavour’, exerted a worldwide influence.
This book makes a fascinating read for anyone interested in church history and in the development and decline not so much of doctrine itself but of the church’s grip on doctrine and of doctrine’s influence in the church.