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Unity and Diversity
The Founders of the Free Church
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It has been many years since there has been a popular level book, which has looked at the life and ministry of some of the 'fathers' of the Free Church of Scotland. This book looks at the life and ministry of a number of the key figures in the Disruption era and late 19th Century Free Church. Beginning with Thomas Chalmers, each chapter has a biographical sketch of a key figure with an emphasis on why these men mattered in their time and what they still have to say to us in the 21st century. All of the men portrayed were committed to the advancement of the Gospel in Scotland and further afield. While they shared a commitment to the Confession of Faith and reformed theology, this was expressed in unique ways by each of these men. Hence both unity and diversity is on view in these fascinating pages.
Alexander (Sandy) Finlayson is Library Director and Professor of Theological Bibliography at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Sandy holds degrees from the University of Toronto and Tyndale Theological Seminary in Canada, where he was also Library Director for eleven years. Sandy served as an elder in the Toronto congregation of the Free Church of Scotland for ten years. He is married to Linda, who writes books for children, and they have one son.
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"Reading the lives and works of these men will make us all wiser, healthier, more daring and, in the best sense of the word, broader Christians; and in the poor, fragmented church in Britain today, this is what is most urgently needed."
The Evangelical Magazine, Published by Evangelical Movement of Wales
"The variety between these men, in gifts, interests, influence, attitudes, and even theological emphases, is laid out very clearly through the book. But equally clear, against that very background, is the unity they upheld in the church, at the heart of which was their common insistence on the final authority of the Bible as God's Word. As such, there is something here for readers in every church, whether or not they are 'in ministry' or not - it is very readable, hardly seeming to run to around 300 pages."
At this moment in church history the people of God sorely need to be reminded that following Christ means being willing to part with cherished denominational identities and connections, church buildings, and even houses and secure salaries. This welcome book includes a picture of each of these founding fathers of the Free Church of Scotland and - to a man - they all look as sober as hot, black coffee in a styrofoam cup. As we are in no danger of overdoing their earnestness, spending a few hours with such steely-eyed men can safely serve to remind us of what it means to stake one's life and livelihood on the lordship of Jesus Christ. Sandy Finlayson has written a clear, lively book that concedes when these churchmen were wrong without thereby obscuring their passionate stand for the Gospel.
Timothy Larsen, McManis Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois
"Sandy Finlayson's study of the nineteenth century leaders of the Free Church of Scotland is neither hagiography nor iconoclasm; rather, it is the thoughtful reflection of a committed presbyterian on the men who helped shape the Scottish church through their commitment to orthodoxy, evangelism, and social action. The attractive churchmanship which these church leaders represented is all too rare today; and I hope this work will do something to restore it to its rightful place in the wider Christian landscape."
Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Historical Theology and Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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