Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Glasgow's School of the Prophets: The Free Church College IX

With the departure of most of the original faculty in the years 1872-1879 the message taught at the Free Church College, Glasgow, changed. In the place of the Westminster Confession Calvinism taught by men like Patrick Fairbairn and Dr. Gibson there came a message that was crafted in response to the spirit ofd the age. The change began in 1872 with the appointment of two professors. To replace Islay Burns, Hetherington's successor, James S. Candlish was appointed.
I first came across the name of James S. Candlish in looking for books on the Holy Spirit in the LTS library. I found a little book (always a good thing in reading for essays) entitled The Holy Spirit by J.S. Candlish. Knowing the name of R.S. Candlish, I read the book. Generally it is a good book, but some things are said about the Bible that worried me.
James Candlish illustrates one of the great problems with the early 'liberals' in the Free Church. Candlish was a Calvinist, like his father. In fact he used the Medulla Theologiae by the Puritan William Ames as his textbook. Yet he was also a supporter of Robertson Smith's advanced critical views on the Bible! It is probably due to this disconnection between his theology and his views on the Bible that J.S. Candlish is widely forgotten today.
The other professor was far more influential, and remains in print today. His name was Thomas M. Lindsay, and regulars at Free St. George's will know the name. His Magnum Opus was a two-volume history of the Reformation. Of course he was appointed to the Church History chair. Lindsay was a zealous supporter of Robertson Smith, and his influence would be great. In 1902 he would be appointed principal of the college.
The next, and perhaps the second most influential of these appointments was in 1875, when Alexander Balmain Bruce (of whom we have written before) was appointed professor of New Testament. Bruce emphasised a reductionist apologetic that made serious concessions to unbelief.
And finally, in 1879, Henry Drummond was appointed lecturer in Natural Science.

Next time, God willing, we shall see what that meant.



Blogger Jenson's Blog said...

I asked this question in your earlier post. What is the Free Church College like these days?

1:28 pm  
Blogger Hiraeth said...

Apolgies for any delays, but Highland Host is somewhat isolated, being still in the wilds of Norfolk. I'll contact the dear boy and get back to you,



4:03 pm  
Blogger Highland Host said...

Short answer: The Free Church Colleges in Glasgow and Aberdeen, and New College, Edinburgh, all became United Free Church Colleges in 1900 (the present Free Church College, Edinburgh, was founded in 1900). In 1929 the majority of the United Free Church united with the Church of Scotland. The Colleges were united to the Divinity Faculties of the universities of the cities in which they were. The Aberdeen College became known as Christ's College, while the Free Church College, Glasgow, became known as Trinity College. The buildings were sold off in the 1970s and are now flats. The institution still exists as an entity within the University of Glasgow.

7:24 pm  
Blogger Highland Host said...

Further info may be found at the following URL: http://www.religions.divinity.gla.ac.uk/School/trinitycollege.htm

8:27 pm  
Blogger Jenson's Blog said...

Thanks for that information.

What about the current Free Church College, with Donald MacLeod as its principal?

11:43 pm  
Blogger Highland Host said...

As I said, founded in 1900. I have no up-to-date information on the College at present

11:46 pm  

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