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The Kirk and the Kingdom

A century of tension in Scottish Social Theology 1830-1929

Johnston McKay

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Unearths the practical social theology of the 19th century church in Scotland

Many believe that the church was largely mute on the widespread poverty and deprivation which accompanied the rapid expanse of urban life in Scotland. This study shows that the church was not lacking in commitment to improving such conditions, through the example of theologian Robert Flint and the parish minister Frederick Lockhart Robertson. For example, publication of Flint's 'Christ's Kingdom upon Earth' led the Church of Scotland in Glasgow to investigate slum housing conditions and to the conclusion that religion could not be complacent about the need for social action.

Key Features

  • Shines new light on the history of the Church of Scotland
  • Shows how religion was a reforming movement in an age of deprivation
  • Highlights the importance of social reformist writers within the Church
  • Contents

    1. Signs and Signals - The Stirrings of Social Criticism
    2. From Church to Kingdom - Robert Flint's new model
    3. The Church and Housing - Flint's social theology in practice
    4. The Parting of the Ways - Social Theology in the United Free Church
    5. The Clash of Opposites - The Kingdom of God in Debate
    6. Full Circle - Social Criticism in the Inter-War Years.

    About the Author

    Johnston McKay is a writer, broadcaster, theologian, lecturer and Church of Scotland minister. For nearly ten years, he presented the popular weekly programme Personal Touch on Radio Scotland. In 2007 he was awarded a PhD by the University of Edinburgh for his thesis on 'The Kingdom of God and the Presbyterian Churches' Social Theology and Action c1830-c1914. He has since been made a Visiting Fellow at New College in the University of Edinburgh and been appointed Chalmers Lecturer 2010-2112 in the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews. He has written extensively on Scottish theological history and is author of Glimpses of Hope, God beyond Ground Zero Clerk (St Andrew Press) A Touch Personal and This Small Pool (St Mungo Press). He is an engaging public speaker and was Senior Producer for Religious Broadcasting at BBC Scotland from 1987-98. He is currently Clerk at the Presbytery of Ardrossan.


    It's a facinating study of a practical social theology that has run like a golden thread through the history of the Church and Scotland but it has also proved to be a treasure trove of insights about the history of Paisley.
    - Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Douglas Alexander, Paisley Daily Express