Monday, August 27, 2007

10 Great works of Scottish Church History: V

10. James Lachlan MacLeod: 'The Second Disruption' (East Linton, Tuckwell Press, 2000). Currently out of print.

While number 9 contains a short account of the events described in this book, this is a far more in-depth study of the tensions that eventually tore apart the Free Church of Scotland. It describes the pre-existing divide between the Highlands and the Lowlands, and how that divide grew in the Free Church. MacLeod's sympathies are clearly with the Free Presbyterians, and righly so, as they were the ones seeking to be faithful to the Free Church. MacLeod traces the origin of the division through the intricacies of Scottish society in the 19th century. This is a serious scholarly work, but it is well worth the read. The forces that operated in 19th century Scotland are still in operation today. True, the pressure today is from a 'post-modernism', but its effects are still very much those that modernism brought in the Victorian Free Church. MacLeod shows the important role played by the pseudo-science of race in the Lowlands, and reminds us that there are pseudo-sciences today. We see how the Second Disruption on 1893 was the result of processes that had been working in the Free Church, especially in the Lowlands, since its inception.
MacLeod introduces such key players as Marcus Dods, Henry Drummond and James Begg. There are copious citations from primary sources, exposing the false teachings of men who claimed to be evangelicals and even Reformed.
Does it sound familiar? It should! Modern evangelicalism is what the Free Church was in the 1880s and 1890s!! There are direct parallels between the teaching of Marcus Dods and Henry Drummond and the modern 'Emerging Church' teachers (a fact we have been pointing out since 2004, and on this blog since its inception). Even the diversity of the 'Emerging' movement is reflected in the Victorian movement. Because of this, MacLeod's book is a must-read today. It has been wisely said that there are no new heresies, only warmed-over old ones.
"[Marcus] Dods. defence of [higher] criticism was a classic enunciation of the position of the so-called Believing Critics, and is symbolic of how large the gulf was between them and the conservatives. The point is that they not only funda mentally disagreed on the methods of criticism, but on the purpose of criticism and the basic validity of the critical approach... The conservatives... viewed Biblical criticism within the Free Church as an attack on Christianity; Dods and those like him regarded it as a defence." (Pp.66-7)
History teaches us who were right.



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