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Chief Scottish Man: The Life & Ministry of Thomas Chalmers (Finlayson)

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Evangelical Press

“On Thursday 18 May 1843 the Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers walked out of St. Andrew’s Church in Edinburgh, along with two hundred and two other ministers and elders. These men were leaving the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly for the last time and within a few hours, Chalmers would be appointed as the first moderator of the newly constituted Free Church of Scotland.”

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) stood at the centre of events that would change the face of the church in Scotland. Without his vision, organizational skills, and his ability to mobilize opinion, it is unlikely that the Free Church would have come into existence. Through his preaching the light of the gospel shone forth, and through his schools and work for the poor, lives were changed.

This new and updated biography tells the story of visionary thinker, minister, and preacher Thomas Chalmers and the many years of struggle for the spiritual independence of the Church of Scotland. It traces his journey from his childhood in a small fishing community to his academic prowess and calling into active gospel ministry. Discover the unforgettable storyof the man who Thomas Carlyle called the “chief Scottish man of his time”.

This volume contains most of the material that appeared in the original Bitesize Biographies, but with additional details to flesh out some areas Thomas Chalmers life and an entirely new chapter on his preaching and pastoral leadership.



“Thomas Chalmers was a colossal figure who deserves to be far more widely known and studied today. He was in the first-rank of preachers in his era; his social reform and political thought exercised a tremendous influence on Scotland; and his place as a professor and churchman put him at the center of Scottish Church History during one of its most significant eras. If Chalmers is unfamiliar to you, then this is the place to start. Sandy Finlayson’s biography is clearly written and accessible, while interacting with the best scholarship and primary sources. It shows an appreciation for the personality and accomplishments of its subject, but it never slips into hagiography or holds back on legitimate criticism. This is a book worthy of your time, and Chalmers is a man worthy of your appreciation.” - Rev. Dr. Jonathan L. Master, President, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

“While little known today, Thomas Chalmers was a colossus in the mid-nineteenth century, of such stature that even Karl Marx felt the need to name and shame him in Das Kapital.  A scholar, a philosopher, an economist but, above all a churchman and a Christian, his was a life lived to the full.  Here, Sandy Finlayson continues his project of bringing nineteenth century Free Church divines to life for a new day and a new audience by focusing on the greatest of them all. Clear, concise and accessible.” - Rev. Dr. Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College, Grove City, PA

“This revised and expanded portrait of one of Scotland’s chief men is written with the best qualities of a sympathetic biography, and readers will find it responsible, engaging, and instructive. Finlayson writes a book which every Christian should read, for it introduces us to a man with godly ambition, a reformer’s vision, and a few of the faults sometimes found in great men. The first two we sorely need in the church today. The last we must learn to forgive in others, and see in ourselves, and this life and study of Thomas Chalmers well help us to that end.”  - Rev. Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn, Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA

“Don’t let the compactness of Professor Finlayson’s work on Chalmers deceive you. It is chock full of useful information on the subjects of shepherding strategy, preaching, church history, church and state, mercy ministry, church planting, and pastoral leadership. All of this comes in the context of the life story of a faithful servant of Christ. This volume will inform, encourage, and equip you to grow in your effectiveness as a shepherd of God’s flock.” - Rev. Dr. Timothy Witmer, Emeritus Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA, and author of The Shepherd Leader