Thomas Chalmers is one of the most prominent figures in Scottish Church history. His role in the founding of the Free Church of Scotland is probably what he is best known for. I’m just coming to the end of my seminary degree at Edinburgh Theological Seminary, formerly known as the Free Church College. So, I’ve heard a lot about Chalmers. Plus we share a name so I naturally am intrigued.
Sandy Finlayson has written this short book about the life and ministry of Chalmers. It is an accessible read that packs in a lot of vital information about Scotland during Chalmers’s lifetime. You’ll read about the moderates and the evangelicals within the Church of Scotland, the veto act and the parish system which was starting to crack.
One of the difficulties when looking back on a historical figure is that we can often look back with rose tinted glasses. Chalmers did a lot of good but he wasn’t always the easiest person. Finlayson does a great job of being open and honest about Chalmers and his misgivings.
For example, when Chalmers first became a minister he tried to use his position as a spring board to fame and ‘greater things’. He spent much of time writing lectures and trying to become a renowned university lecturer and author. His aspirations continued until a period of illness that almost killed him. From then on the journey began which took Chalmers to the evangelical side of the Church of Scotland.
As time went on he became more and more prominent in the Church of Scotland and was the leading voice for the evangelicals.
This book goes into some of the details of these events in Chalmers’ life and more. Chalmers did a lot of good for the poor, he cared for the flock that he was in and he took his role seriously.
Throughout this book Finlayson picks up on how Chalmers wasn’t always the kindest person who had a temper that could cause damage.
If you’re interested in the Scottish church scene or if you’re interested in the founding of the Free Church of Scotland and some of the politics in the Church of Scotland at the time, I recommend this to you.
You can buy a copy here. This book is informative and a fun read. Admittedly I’m a bit of a geek, but I think you’ll enjoy it too.