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September 2016 - A REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CATECHISM & Why Presbyterians Shouldn't Vote
by Rev. Thomas Martin
Synopsis: Today, many people associate Reformed Presbyterians with the practice of acapella Psalm singing. This is due to the decline of Psalm singing amongst professing Presbyterians. However, prior to the twentieth century, Reformed Presbyterians were known for a very different distinctive principle and practice. That principle revolves around the Headship of Christ and his Mediatorial reign over the nations.
In this pamphlet, Mr. Thomas Martin, a nineteenth century Scottish Reformed Presbyterian minister, sets out this principle and its various implications by way of a catechism. To this, he has joined a helpful catechetical overview of history of the Church of Scotland and the rise of the Covenanter movement. Although he writes with a decided Reformed Presbyterian point of view, he remains generous in his assessments of Christians who belong to other bodies. His exposition is at once engaging and encyclopedic as he moves through this history and the conflicts of Covenanters as they sought to uphold their principles on the Mediatorial Headship of Christ. Mr. Martin explains how this principle relates to matters of church and state. Of special interest is his emphasis upon the necessity of dissent from the immoral constitution of government that was and remains that of the Church of Scotland together with the political government of Great Britain. If Christ is truly Mediator and his Headship is genuine, then this has serious implications for believers. Mr. Martin does not excuse his readers but challenges all Christians to a serious and circumspect application of this principle. It is the duty of all Christians to become informed and to attach themselves to that ecclesiastical body which studies to uphold all these Scriptural principles and practices. Additionally, his discussion of the Free Church of Scotland contains many concise and accurate criticisms designed to blunt its claims of occupying the place of faithful Covenanters. This catechism is, in many ways, a compendium of historical and theological information of great use to those who would uphold Covenanter distinctives at this time.
To this is added a short tract, by American Covenanter minister Findley M. Foster, explaining “Why “Reformed Presbyterians Cannot Vote.” In a very short space, Mr. Foster details many of the problems inherent in the U.S. Constitution and describes the compromises which Christians must make if they would vote under the present system. As passions rise and the temptation to take political action looms large, Reformed Presbyterians need to avoid the temptation to do evil that good may come.
Author(s) Bio: Thomas Martin was born in the parish of Shotts, May 17, 1805. He was educated at Glasgow University and, later, attended the Theological Hall of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, in Paisley, from 1824 to 1827. He was licensed by the North Eastern Presbytery, at Airdrie, on July 8, 1828. He was elected the minister of Strathmiglo, on March 30, 1829 and was ordained on July 28, 1829. There he continued to minister for the remainder of his life. This congregation drew members form several parishes and often had 200 people in attendance. He was noted as an able and earnest minister whose concern was especially turned to the principles of the Covenanter church. His major publication was this catechism devoted to the principles and position of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. It went through several editions. He was married to Margaret M’Indoe, with whom he had several children, one of whom became minister of Kilbirnie. He died on January 25, 1879 and was buried in Strathmiglo.
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