Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2000-06 > 0962134185
From: "Edward Andrews" <>
Subject: RE: Nonsubscribing Presbyterians
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 20:29:45 +0100
This is an important area for the whole study of S-I.
Many of the splits which make it difficult to follow the records of the S-I
come out of the events surrounding the Westminster Confession.
This is a general short comment about the Westminster Documents. (As well
as the confession there were 2 Catechisms; a larger and a shorter, a
directory of public worship, a form of Church government and a directory of
family worship). It is not to be taken as either an exhaustive or
authoritative statement of the situation.
While the troubles of the reign of Charles I began with the Scots objecting
to his church polity, Charles had problems with Parliament, which lead to
the Civil War. On the basis of my enemy's enemy is my friend the Scots and
the Parliamentary Party entered into an alliance. This was known as the
Solemn League and Covenant. This in part was an agreement to "bring the
Churches of God in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and
uniformity in religion..." To do this it was necessary to draw up a
statement of faith. This was done by the Westminster Assembly, an English
Assembly, at which there may have been some Irish, and where there were
The documents were heavily influenced by English Puritans, and would
probably not have been what the Scots really wanted.
After the Restoration the documents were consigned to the dustbin, but
after the Glorious Revolution, they became the key documents in
Presbyterianism. (The Confession is in the PC (USA) Book of Confessions).
In the 18th Century, Irish Presbyterian Ministers had to study in Scotland
as they could not go to Trinity there was a debate going on in the Church of
Scotland about various matters, the nature of God - Trinity or not, and the
personality of Christ, God, Man, God and Man? There was also a debate on the
nature of election.
These debates went to Ireland, and there were some who were unhappy about
the idea that their right of Theological thought could be constrained by a
There is some debate whether the people who were not happy about the
confession were orthodox, or were either Arians and or Arminianists.
The Seceders who ad partly been on the loosing side when the question was
fought out in the General Assembly when they came to Ireland attacked the
Presbyterians for not being orthodox enough.
Eventually under Henry Cook the Presbyterians ganged up on the
Nonsubscribers and they formed their own Church.
I hope that this helps.
> For my info, (and maybe others) can you explain what the "Westminster
> Confession" actually was?
> As I say, I was brought up as a Presbyterian (but not a very
> strict one) and I
> had never heard of this until I was about 25.
> There was a "Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church" near where we
> moved to in
> Lisburn, and I asked someone what it meant, all they knew was
> that it was to do
> with the Westminster Confession, but they couldn't explain what
> it was either!
> I'm quite happy for this to go "off-list" if you don't feel it
> belongs here or
> if anyone else is offended by it.