Thursday, May 04, 2006

Declaring the Death of Christ: James Denney. III.

The Scottish Presbyterian Churches in their best days have always laid a great stress on the need for an educated ministry, thus it was seen in the conservative circles in which James Denney's family moved as only natural that the brilliant student should become a minister. Denney himself felt a deep desire to teach the Gospel.
The Free Church of Scotland, to which Denney belonged, was second to none in the standard of its ministerial education. It had three colleges, one large, extremely well-equipped one in Edinburgh (New College), and two smaller, but also excellently-equipped colleges in Glasgow and Aberdeen. Coming from Greenock and graduating from Glasgow University, Denney decided to enter the Glasgow Free Church College. Although New College was more prestigious, there was a sense in which Glasgow was more attractive to James Denney, and it was that Glasgow was seen as being more on the 'cutting edge' of theology. Its staff consisted mostly of younger men, influenced by a changing theological climate. The Principal and Old Testament lecturer, George C.M. Douglas, was a thoroughly conservative man, but he allowed the other professors a great deal of liberty in their teaching.
These young professors were Thomas M. Lindsay, Professor of Church History, James Candlish, Professor of Systematic Theology and son of Robert S. Candlish, and Alexander Balmain Bruce, New Testament and apologetics. Natural science was taught by Henry Drummond. These four men were all 'New Evangelists', attempting to engage with modern liberal scholarship without abandoning evangelicalism.
Denney was particularly attracted to professor Bruce. He admired Bruce's work on the Gospels and declared of Bruce, "He made me see Jesus!"
But Bruce was moving away from evangelicalism, and sadly he carried Denney, whose conservative evangelicalism had been disturbed by a tour in Germany, with him for a while.

Next time, God willing, we shall see how Denney's other great concern, evangelism, was developed in his time at the Free Church College.



Blogger PeterinScotland said...

Thanks for link to our bookselling business (More used books). Can't find where to contact you, though given LTS connection I suspect your name. Would prefer link to .com address instead of one.

Are there only 6 options as to which church you belong in on your first quiz? And some of them are not present day which isn't very helpful as I don't own a time machine. Maybe the Lecturer in Church History in my town could provide one as he is reputed to be into science fiction.


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