The Federal Pneumatology of George Smeaton (1814-89)

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


George Smeaton (1814-89) was the Professor of Exegesis at New College, Edinburgh, for the last 32 years of his life. His three works still in print on the atonement and the Holy Spirit are recognised to represent a statement of the orthodox Scottish Reformed thought of the Free Church at its inception. Smeaton is thus recognised to be one of the last of the ‘old school’ lecturers of New College. His theology, therefore, falls into the traditional Reformed category of federal theology. This thesis studies Smeaton’s pneumatology and demonstrates that, while it is entirely orthodox in line with its Reformed heritage, it advances in four small but significant points to represent a more
thoroughly federal pneumatology. The first feature that Smeaton incorporates into his pneumatology is that the Holy Spirit indwelt Adam at his creation, only to deprive Adam of his fellowship at the fall. This anthropology, in light of the prominence that Smeaton gives to the federal analogy of the two Adams, obviously draws attention to the role of the Spirit in the incarnation. It
is, therefore, no surprise to find the role of the Spirit central in Smeaton’s Christology. The second feature is that it is the Spirit who is the executive of the communication between the two natures of the incarnate Christ, thus, thirdly, allowing him to experience the life of the true Spirit-filled person. Finally, the closeness between the Spirit’s work and Christ’s mission prompts Smeaton to call it a conjoined mission. This thesis explores the historical and exegetical foundations of these features of Smeaton, concluding that he does not introduce any radically innovative ideas to federal theology, but brings existing yet underplayed ideas to the fore. In the final chapter the
consequences of Smeaton’s federal pneumatology are highlighted.
Date of Award29 May 2003
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The Open University
SupervisorNick Needham (Supervisor) & Andrew McGowan (Supervisor)

Cite this