Samuel Rutherford's Response to the Antinomian Controversy in England and its Impact on His Doctrine of Sanctification

  • Song-En Poon

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by UHI)


The Antinomian Controversy in England during the seventeenth century encountered two major waves of responses, first in the 1630s, then again in the 1640s. Samuel Rutherford was one of the key figures who wrote against English Antinomianism in the 1640s. In addition to his Scottish background, Rutherfordstands out foradvancing the ongoing dialogue with the Antinomiansintopreviouslyunchartedterritories of sanctification.This is made evident by examininghistreatisesagainsttheworks thathis peers (1640s) and predecessors (1630s)published in response to the Antinomian Controversy.The following features of Rutherford’s doctrine of sanctification governed the analysis: (1) the presence of indwelling sin in all justified persons, (2) the responsibility of all justified persons to obey the Moral Law, and (3) all justified persons are obliged to pursue sanctification. Rutherford, in tandem with his companions, are convinced that the Antinomians reject believers’ obligation to pursue sanctification, because they reject the first two premises which are key to the third. However,through the analysis of the treatises of representative Antinomian figures,it will bedemonstratedthat Rutherford misinterpreted the Antinomians’ view on all three aspects. This maskedthe genuine differences between Rutherford and the Antinomians on the doctrine of sanctification. Nevertheless, it will be shown that there are real and irreconcilable differences between Rutherford and his opponents on this doctrinal matter.
Date of Award4 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
SupervisorRobert Shillaker (Supervisor) & Nick Needham (Supervisor)

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