William Cunningham : his life, thought, and controversies
Honeycutt, Michael Wade
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The central thesis of this work is that Cunningham's life and work must be understood in terms of his struggle to defend and promote the principles of the Reformation in response to numerous challenges from Church and State. Cunningham's responses to these challenges are presented in a biographical study, chronologically examining his life, thought and controversies. This biography presents a theological history of his life, incorporating social and political history only where needed for contextual purposes. An examination of letters, pamphlets, contemporary periodicals and newspapers reveals a far 1nore nuanced portrait of William Cunningham than previously acknowledged and one that recognizes to a greater extent the significant contributions of this nineteenth-century minister, Churchman, Professor, and Principal. His was a life of controversy, as he attempted to recover the theology of the Reformers and to advance the mission of evangelicalism. In chapter one, Cunningham, as a student, transitions within the Church of Scotland from Moderatism to Evangelicalism, and wages his first major controversy, fighting to improve the Edinburgh Divinity library. In chapter two, Cunningham, as a minister in Greenock, confronts the Rowites, then challenging the Westminster Confession of Faith. In chapter three, Cunningham battles Scottish Dissenters, Moderates, and the State over the nature of the Church, during the Ten Years' Conflict. In chapter four, Cunningham fights to establish the Free Church of Scotland, but his efforts to strengthen ties with evangelicals throughout Christendom brings opposition from abolitionists, other denominations, and Free Church ministers. In chapter five, Cunningham opposes Roman Catholicism and efforts within his denomination to build additional theological colleges. In chapter six, Cunningham enjoys a respite from controversy, concentrating on New College and contributing articles defending the Reformers and their theology.