Between approximately 1717 and 1722 the Church of Scotland was agitated by a controversy between evangelicals, known as "Marrow Men," and moderates, or "neonomians," over the relationship between law and gospel in salvation. Prominent evangelical ministers such as Thomas Boston and Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine had reprinted The Marrow of Modern Divinity (ascribed by some to Edward Fisher of London in 1645), which maintained an immediate, free offer of salvation by looking to Christ in faith.
This raised the opposition of the controlling party of the church, who as neonomians held that the gospel is a "new law" (neonomos), replacing the OT law with the legal conditions of faith and repentance needing to be met before salvation can be offered. They maintained the necessity of forsaking sin before Christ can be received, whereas the Marrow Men replied that only union to Christ can give us power to be holy. Hence the neonomians considered the call to immediate trust in Christ and to full assurance to be dangerously antinomian.
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D F Kelly
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
D Beaton, The Marrow of Modern Divinity and the Marrow Controversy; W M Hetherington, History of the Church of Scotland; J MacLeod, Scottish Theology.
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