Restorationist Counter-Enlightenment: Thomas M'Crie on the Concept of Civil Liberty

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Durgun F.

JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS HISTORY, vol.38, no.4, pp.476-498, 2014 (Journal Indexed in AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 38 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/1467-9809.12053
  • Page Numbers: pp.476-498


Enlightenment notions for Counter-Enlightenment purposes have not to date been used to provide a comprehensive context for Scottish religious history-writing in the age of Counter-Revolution and Restoration. The Evangelical historian and divine Thomas M'Crie's studies on Scottish Reformation history, Life of John Knox and Life of Andrew Melville, published in 1811 and 1819 respectively, exhibit an abundance of historiographical material for research. M'Crie was among the most renowned writers of his own time, but his historical works have been briefly passed over in recent secondary sources. The main purpose of this study is to rescue M'Crie's historical works on the Scottish Reformation past from near oblivion. This article argues that M'Crie produced an apology for the Scottish Reformation, adopting an aggressive style that attacked Scottish Enlightenment historians and thinkers such as William Robertson and David Hume, especially in the matter of their treatment of John Knox and Andrew Melville. M'Crie tried to restore his chosen past in order to influence the religious and political affairs of Scotland. In M'Crie's Counter-Enlightenment historiography, the concept of civil liberty and Presbyterianism become interchangeable in a Restorationist religio-political discourse. That is why M'Crie's enthusiasm for the Scottish Reformation constitutes the most representative example of the Presbyterian interpretation, which held its own against Enlightenment influence.