Pulpit polemics and 'damnable doctrine' in early modern Scotland

Russell Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The First Book of Discipline (1560) established the confutation of erroneous doctrine as an integral aspect of Scottish ministers’ responsibilities in the pulpit. This article explores this key facet of early modern Scottish preaching. It begins by sketching out the main contours of polemical preaching, examining how Reformed Scots addressed theological ideas with which they disagreed (especially Catholicism). It then briefly outlines Scottish ministers’ engagement with antinomianism in the 1640s. Having laid this twin foundation, James Fergusson’s 1652 sermons against antinomianism are considered in detail. This article aims to shed light on how Scottish ministers used the pulpit to alert their hearers to, and gird them against, the dangers posed by often-subtle deviations from Reformed orthodoxy. It argues that preachers often provided their most forensic critique of doctrine when they were addressing theological errors that were considered to be spiritually dangerous but less familiar to their hearers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReformation & Renaissance Review
Early online date3 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Oct 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sermons
  • preaching
  • reformed
  • anti-Catholicism
  • antinomianism
  • Scotland


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