Free Church of Scotland

views updated May 11 2018

Free Church of Scotland. This issued from the Disruption of 1843, when those unable to accept the infringements of the Church of Scotland's right of self-government which the Auchterarder case (1838–9) highlighted seceded under Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847). The result can be regarded as a dramatic tribute to voluntaryism (and Scottish middle-class affluence), or a wasteful duplication of resources: 500 ministers, 600 schools, 700 new churches by 1847; missionary work in India and central Africa; ministerial training renowned for its intellectual rigour. Under a powerful Edinburgh leadership, this church, claiming continuity from the Reformation's Church of Scotland, and retaining the Westminster confession and longer and shorter catechisms, steadily moderated its theological conservatism. It affirmed its political liberalism, developed a centralized financial system new to presbyterianism, and united with other presbyterian secessions: the original seceders (1852), the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1876), and the United Presbyterians (1900), thus forming the United Free Church which joined with the Church of Scotland in 1929. Inevitably each union bred its rump. The Free Presbyterians seceded in 1893, alarmed at the Declaratory Act of 1892, which modified the binding force of the Free Church's original formularies, and a remnant (the ‘Wee Frees’) has survived the union of 1900, confirmed in its property by the Free Church case (1904), conservative in theology, strong in the Highlands, and active in missions to India and southern Africa.

Clyde Binfield

Free Church of Scotland

views updated May 14 2018

Free Church of Scotland Grouping of Scottish Presbyterians formed as a result of the secession of nearly one-third of the membership of the established Church of Scotland in the Disruption of 1843. In 1900, all but a small minority of this Free Church joined the United Presbyterian Church to become the United Free Church of Scotland. In 1929, after the acceptance of the Church of Scotland's spiritual independence, the United Free Church of Scotland reunited with it. The tiny Presbyterian minority who had opposed the initial union retained their independence and kept the name United Free Church.