The Apologetics of Thomas Chalmers
: The influences, methods, and effects of chalmers’ rebuttals to objections to christianity

  • Steven Adamson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


Scholarly investigations of the works of Dr. Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) primarily focus on his pastoral ministry and role in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland, passing over his apologetic and theological endeavours. Consequently, the contents and methodologies of Chalmers’ arguments have not been thoroughly researched. This study critically analyses Chalmers’ Christian defences; asserting that the single most influential factor in his apologetic arguments is the presupposition of humanity’s innate tendency to expect nature’s constancy. Chalmers’ writings, sermons, and journals serve to demonstrate that his arguments for the existence of God, creation, inspiration of Scripture, and miracles are anchored in this metaphysical belief. As written, his works have the goal of refuting the theistic objections offered by David Hume (1711-1776), and within that goal, he modifies the then existing natural theological arguments to conform to his philosophical views. This research reveals that Chalmers’ apologetic arguments, which reflect the prevailing approach of Natural Theology, contain numerous distinctive rebuttals to Hume’s theistic objections and have marks of similarity to the approaches of numerous modern natural theologians, classical apologists and intelligent design advocates.
Additionally, while popular in his day as a Christian author, this research identifies Chalmers’ verbose style of writing, limited technical acumen and the decline of Natural Theology as principal causes for his anonymity amongst academic apologists. Hence, the intended side effect of this research is to shed light on Chalmers’ apologetics; providing keys to deciphering the density of his writings, making them more accessible to modern researchers.
Date of Award9 Jan 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberdeen Maritime Museum
SupervisorNick Needham (Supervisor) & Innes Visagie (Supervisor)

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