Back to OWR Homepage Back to Christianity Flowchart

Back to
Continental European Protestantism

Church of Scotland

Doctrines The basis of the doctrines of the Church of Scotland are to be found in the Westminster Confession. The Westminster Confession was accepted as the Confession of faith by the English parliament in 1647 and by the Scottish parliament in 1649. The Confession affirms the inspiration of Scripture (but rejects the Apocrypha as "not being of divine inspiration"), the Trinity, double predestination, justification by grace through faith, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper as the only two sacraments.

History The precise origins of Christianity in Scotland are unknown. Missions arrived in Scotland in the 5th century, culminating in the mission of St Columba in the middle of the 6th century and the founding of the great monastery of Iona. Prior to the middle of the 11th century the Church in Scotland was Celtic in character. In the 11th century, however, under the reign of King Malcolm III and Queen Margaret, the church in Scotland came increasingly under the jurisdiction of the Church of Rome so that it became in many respects indistinguishable from other European churches.
Like other countries in northern Europe, Scotland came under the sway of the Reformation. Reformed theology was first brought to Scotland by George Wishart (1513?-1546). However, reformed theology was only properly established through the work of John Knox, who had been influenced by Calvinism while in Switzerland and had returned from Switzerland to Scotland in 1559. The following year the Scottish parliament accepted Protestantism as the official religion of Scotland and abolished the Mass.
During the 17th century the reformed church continued to establish itself in Scotland. The Scottish parliament adopted the Westminster Confession and fully approved the Presbyterian system. In 1688 the Church of Scotland became reestablished as the Established Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
In the 18th and 19th centuries the Church of Scotland experienced a number of schisms, which led to the establishment of traditions such as the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Free Presbyterians and the United Free Presbyterians. Some of these traditions were transplanted into Ireland, the United States and other parts of the world by Scottish emigrants, leading to the emergence of many new presbyterian churches.

Symbols The logo of the Church of Scotland consists of the flag of Scotland with a fire burning over it surrounded by an orange oval shaped border.

Adherents In 1995 the Church of Scotland had a membership of 701,914 (Europa Publications Ltd. II 1997, 3375).

Main Centre
 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN United Kingdom.