Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula
The great Reformer Samuel Rutherford displayed a remarkable theological vision for Scotland that many could not handle or control. Principal Richard M. Hannula in his new bitesize biography of Rutherford outlines the major events and fiery personality of Rutherford that commends readers to see him as a gospel believing man seeking to defend the purity of the church.
After being appointed as Professor of Humanities in 1623, Rutherford was right in the midst of a squabble with King James who sought to alight the Church of Scotland with more Anglican practices (Five Articles of Perth), for these practices were deemed unbiblical by the more Presbyterian group in the church. He fought tirelessly against King James and his bishops who forced non-biblical tradition upon them. At one point, Bishop Sydserff summoned Rutherford to his side and demanded that he conform to episcopacy and renounce his Presbyterian forms of worship and governance (53). The commission that Rutherford faced at Edinburgh was not happy with attack on Arminianism and his failure to adhere to the worship ceremonies of the episcopacy. His was thus exiled to Aberdeen with no hopes of returning to the church that he loved.
Yet, his loss was only temporary, after two years of petitioning Scottish leaders and Presbyterian who defied episcopacy and the king’s control of the church, there was at last victory through the National Covenant, a document signed by over 1,000 Scottish ministers. This document was to ensure that the king would not take over the church and outlined what these Scottish faithful believed and what were errors (72-74). The gauntlet had been thrown down as Rutherford traveled from exile to Edinburgh to see what was happening amongst his people.
For all the amazing things that happened in the life of Samuel Rutherford, Hannula points to the beauty of his love for the people in his ministry. He writes, “Through tireless visitation, Rutherford grew intimately acquainted with his people, learning their strengths and failings and the challenges of their daily lives. He discovered how to best minister to them in the pulpit and in private conversation. Soon a deep bond of love formed between the pastor and his congregation (31).” This bond of love would lead him back to Anwoth after his exile in Aberdeen. He was a man who called people to believe in Christ, to lay down their lives for him.
This was an amazing short biography of Scottish Reformer Samuel Rutherford.
Thanks to EP Books and Cross Focused Reviews for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.