Walter Scott (clergyman)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Walter Scott

Walter Scott (1796 – April 23, 1861) was one of the four key early leaders in the Restoration Movement, along with Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell and Thomas' son Alexander Campbell.[1]: 673  He was a successful evangelist and helped to stabilize the Campbell movement as it was separating from the Baptists.[1]: 673 


Walter was born to John and Mary Innes Scott in 1796 in the town of Moffatt, Scotland.[1]: 673  His parents, who were members of the Church of Scotland, hoped that he would become a Presbyterian minister.[1]: 673  He spent six years at the University of Edinburgh, leaving in 1818.[1]: 673  The same year he went to New York City at the invitation of his maternal uncle, where he taught languages at a school on Long Island.[1]: 673  He soon moved to Pittsburgh, where he was baptized by immersion and became an active member of a small congregation led by a fellow Scotsman named George Forrester.[1]: 673  Forrester helped shape Walter's understanding of Christianity, and in particular his belief that immersion was the only appropriate form of baptism.[1]: 673 

The congregation in Pittsburgh influenced by the movement led by James and Robert Haldane.[1]: 673  The Haldanes, who hoped to restore New Testament Christianity, rejected the authority of creeds, observed the Lord's Supper weekly, practiced foot washing and by 1809 practiced believer's baptism by immersion rather than infant baptism.[1]: 674  Forrester also introduced Scott to the writings of John Glas and Robert Sandeman.[1]: 674  When Forrester died in 1820, Scott replaced him as minister and as director of a small school.[1]: 674 

Scott married Sarah Whitsette in 1823, and the family moved to Ohio in 1826[1]: 675  He began working with the Campbells in August of that year.[1]: 675  He was hired to work as an evangelist in 1827.[1]: 675  Within three years he brought over 3,000 converts into the movement.[1]: 675  At that time the Campbells were associated with the Mahoning Baptist Association; as the number of converts grew, conflicts with other Baptists also grew.[1]: 675  In 1839 Scott and the Campbells disassociated themselves from the Baptists.[1]: 675 

Scott continued to preach after 1829, but increasingly his focus shifted to writing.[1]: 675  In 1852 the family moved to Covington, Kentucky where he established a school for women.[1]: 675  He died on April 23, 1861.[1]: 676 


Scott's written work, most of which dates from after 1830, influenced the Restoration Movement throughout the 19th century.[1]: 676  Scott founded two periodicals: The Evangelist in 1832, and The Protestant Unionist in 1844.[1]: 675  As a journalist, he wrote about a wide range of topics, including church music, issues important to the Restoration Movement and also more general domestic and foreign news.[1]: 676 

His work has been described as "profoundly theological."[1]: 676  Influenced by Francis Bacon and John Locke, Scott believed theology should be reasonable, able to be explained in reasonable terms and able to withstand reasonable criticism.[1]: 676  His first book, A Discourse on the Holy Spirit, was published in 1831.[1]: 676 [2] Scott understood the Holy Spirit to work through the Biblical inspiration and the church; fundamentally, he saw the Spirit working externally through scripture and teaching to convert sinners, rather than through an internal experience or operation.[1]: 677  Scott believed that before repentance and baptism the Spirit works externally by bringing to individuals the evidence of scripture and preaching concerning the acts of God, and that the individual then evaluates that evidence and rationally decides to respond in faith.[1]: 677  His most important written work was The Gospel Restored, which was published in 1836.[1]: 676  In it he outlined a six-phased covenantal understanding of salvation, with three phases taken by the individual and three by God.[1]: 676  The three phases taken by the individual were faith, repentance and baptism; the three phases provided by God were remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life.[1]: 676 

Other works include:

  • To Themelion: The Union of Christians (1852)[1]: 678 
  • Nekrosis, or the Death of Christ (1853)[1]: 678 
  • The Messiahship, or the Great Demonstration (1859)[1]: 679 

Five-Finger Exercise[edit]

While working as an evangelist for the Mahoning Baptist Association between 1827 and 1830, Scott developed a simple mnemonic illustration for the gospel plan of salvation that has been used in the Restoration Movement ever since.[1]: 675 [3]: 338  Based on Acts 2:38, Scott believed that salvation requires faith, repentance and baptism.[1]: 675  As an evangelist, he would first come into a community and find a group of children.[3]: 338  He would ask them to hold up a hand, and then point to each finger and say "faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins, gift of the Holy Spirit."[3]: 338  Once the children had learned the mnemonic, he would ask them to tell their parents that he would be preaching that same gospel that evening.[3]: 338 


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Scott, Walter
  2. ^ A Discourse on the Holy Spirit. 2nd ed. Bethany, VA: Alexander Campbell, 1831. Bound with The Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 2 (1831).
  3. ^ a b c d Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Five Finger Exercise

External links[edit]