Saturday, November 1, 2014

Established Church of Scotland

At the time of Robert and Henrietta (Brown) Muir's marriage and birth of their older children, there was an established Church of Scotland, which is a branch of reformed Protestantism. When capitalized, "Presbyterian," refers to churches that trace their roots to the Scottish and English churches and political groups formed during the English Civil War in the 1640s.

Presbyterian theology emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. The Presbyterian denominations hold to the theology of John Calvin and his successors.  Local congregations being governed by sessions made up of representatives of the congregation. Presbyterians use a "book of order" to regulate common practice and order.

The Burning Bush emblem above the entrance of the Church of
Scotland offices; photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

When the Scottish Church first broke with Rome in 1560, only psalms from the Bible could be sung a cappella; any other type of singing had to be done outside of church. Musical instruments, starting with the organ, made their appearance during the 1800s; and, eventually, the church adopted the singing of hymns in worship services in 1861.

Our ancestors generally believed there were only two sacraments:
  • Baptism by Aspersion (sprinkling) or Affusion (pouring) as opposed to Immersion
  • Communion, symbolizing Christ's presence in the bread and wine through the Holy Spirit rather than being locally present
In the 1700s controversy still surrounded the recently restored Church of Scotland's independence. There was interference from the civil courts with Church decisions, particularly over patronage, which was the landowner's right to appoint ministers to vacant pulpits. This unrest continued during Robert and Henrietta's family's lives and culminated in the Disruption of 1843. At that time a large portion of the Church broke away to form the Free Church of Scotland. These seceding groups tended to divide and reunite among themselves leading to several different Presbyterian denominations in Scotland.

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