Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2000-06 > 0962156954
From: "Edward Andrews" <>
Subject: RE: Nonsubscribing Presbyterians
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 02:49:14 +0100
If people have trouble with Church history, that is their problem. While I
make no bones about it that I am a Church of Scotland minister, I hope that
I am mature enough to teach Ecclesiastical History as an academic subject.
Bluntly I don't think that you can even begin to understand the S-I unless
you at least recognise the differing religious makeup which has developed
over the years.
Especially in Ireland, the religion is a key feature to identifying where
people may have come from. For example if you have "Covenanters" or
"Friends" (Quakers) in your line, you are on a roll, as there are not that
many centres for them to have come from.
You have to be a bit careful about Unitarian. In both America and Great
Britain you have Unitarians, who are by definition part of a specific faith
community. Basically they reject the idea of the Trinity. What they put in
its place usually is left as an open question.
However, some of the Nonsubscribing Presbyterians at least historically
would claim to Trinitarian orthodoxy, merely that they are not prepared to
define too closely what people should believe. When their followers move,
they would probably connect with a Unitarian body, but they might not.
Except for Dublin, where, at least when I was at University there they
traded as Unitarians and I think that their roots were from England) it is
really only used in a derogatory way in Ulster.
However I, despite some of them claiming orthodoxy, believe that many of
their ministers are trained in the Unitarian College in Manchester, so the
best comment would be that their general ideas are not in line with
However, (sorry to have so many howevers) you are not really interested in
the present beliefs. You have to accept that Churches change, and the reason
why E H is so important that it enables us to work out where people would
have fitted in during the 18th Century which is the classic time of S-I
migration (or later). All that you are really wanting to do is to find out
what the successor body to the Church of your father's is, so that you can
try and find out if they have any records.
St. Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland
Visit our Web site http://www.btinternet.com/~stnicholas.buccleuch/index.htm
> I have been following this exchange with interest, as the OS memoirs often
> refer to the different branches of Presbyterianism and presumably church
> records will be held still in their respective churches. Perhaps Edward,
> you could explain also where the Unitarians come in to all this, if indeed
> they do. And are the orthodox Presbyterians the same as Trinitarians ? I
> know that Unitarian churches are still in existence today.
> I am also happy to take a reply off list if anyone is offended,
> although it
> is useful information for anyone trying to find church records.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Edward Andrews <>
> To: <>
> Date: 27 June 2000 20:29
> Subject: RE: Nonsubscribing Presbyterians
> > 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
> >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
> >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
> >Scottish Commissioners.
> > 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
> >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
> >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
> >human document.
> > 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.
> >Edward Andrews
> >> 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.
> >> Colin