Scottish Federalism and Covenantalism in Transition: The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine

By Stephen G. Myers

A study of the 18th-century Presbyterian minister Ebenezer Erskine, and how his contribution to theological disputes sheds light on similar controversies today.

ISBN: 9780227175699


How freely can salvation be offered to people? How do Law and Grace find balance? What influence does federal theology have on the overall theological enterprise? How does a confessional church interact with both the civil government and other religious communions? These are the questions roiling the twenty-first-century church; these were the questions threatening to splinter the Scottish church in the early eighteenth century. In those earlier days of mounting theological confrontation within the Scottish church, Ebenezer Erskine – a parish minister renowned for his evangelistic zeal – had a major role to play.

Through this examination of the theology and ministry of Erskine, one therefore gains not only a deeper understanding of a man critically important within Presbyterian history, but also insight into the pressing theological disputes of the day. By analysing Erskine’s contributions to ongoing theological discussion, greater clarity is gained on the development of federal theology; on the root causes of the Marrow controversy; and on the challenges involved as increasing religious diversity penetrated lands once dominated by national churches. In these areas and more, Erskine serves both to illuminate an obscure era and to refine modern understandings of still controversial theological issues.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 280

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Stephen G. Myers (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is pastor of Pressly Memorial Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and Visiting Professor of Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.




1. Early Life and Abjuration Oath Controversy
2. The Marrow Controversy
3. The Secession Crisis
4. Erskine in the 1740s


Appendix I: Text of 1712 Oath of Abjuration
Appendix II: Problematic Sections
Appendix III: Text of 1715 Oath of Abjuration
Appendix IV: Full text of the Act of the Associate Presbytery



Endorsements and Reviews

Stephen Myers’s meticulous study of Ebenezer Erskine is set to become the standard point of reference in the field. Clearly written and thoroughly researched, this is an important contribution to our knowledge of Scottish theology and church life during the transitional period of the early eighteenth century.
David Fergusson, Professor of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

Stephen Myers is a very careful scholar who traces to their roots theological and ecclesiastical themes that were predominant (and controversial) in the eighteenth century. He deals most helpfully on the eighteenth-century doctrine among Scottish Presbyterians (of opposing parties) concerning the perennial issue of justification by faith. … I shall be recommending this volume to my classes in years to come.
Douglas F. Kelly, Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina

… essential reading for those seeking to understand the ideas contributing to the fragmentation of Scottish Presbyterianism in the eighteenth century.
Alasdair Raffe, in Theology, Vol 121, No 2