Resources On The Marrow Controversy

The Marrow of Modern Divinity was regarded by the orthodox Reformed, in the 17th century, as a good summary of the orthodox view of law and gospel, justification, sanctification, and the third (normative) use of the law in the life of the Christian. It should have been accepted as orthodox since Edward Fisher was summarizing and quoting  orthodox Reformed writers such Beza, Ursinus, et al. As Donald John Maclean explains in this lecture, the Marrow was not well received, however, by the General Assembly of the Scottish Church in the 18th century. When Thomas Boston recovered it and started promoting it, controversy ensued. Today, most orthodox Reformed folk receive the Marrow and the Marrow Men as representing the standard, mainstream Protestant, evangelical, Reformed view but there remain those who either say outright or imply either that the Marrow was received as antinomian or ought to be regarded as such. I have addressed this allegation at length in the Heidelcast series linked below.

Select Bibliography

The best modern edition of The Marrow is: Fisher, Edward, The Marrow of Modern Divinity. Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2009. This volume includes Thomas Boston’s notes. has published an e-book, The Marrow of Modern Divinity: Modernized and Annotated.

  1. Boston, Thomas. Queries to the Friendly-Adviser, to Which Is Prefix’d a Letter to a Friend, Concerning the Affair of the Marrow, & C. Edinburgh, 1722.
  2. Boston, Thomas. The Complete Works of the Late Rev. Thomas Boston, Ettrick: Including His Memoirs, Written by Himself. Stoke-on-Kent, Eng.: Tentmaker Publications, 2002.
  3. Boston, Thomas. Commentary on the Shorter Catechism. Classic collectorsed. Edmonton, AB Canada: Still Waters Revival Books, 1993.
  4. Boston, Thomas. Human Nature in Its Fourfold State. Banner of Truth Trust, 1964.
  5. Boston, Thomas. Memoirs of Thomas Boston. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1988.
  6. Durham, James, and Christopher Coldwell. Collected Sermons. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017.
  7. Erskine, Ralph, and Donald Fraser. The Life and Practical Works of the Reverend Ralph Erskine. From the Glasgow ed., 1777ed. Calvinistic Family Library, 5. Xenia Ohio: Board of the Calvinistic Book Concern, 1844.
  8. Erskine, Ebenezer. The Beauties. Edited by Samuel M’Millan. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2001.
  9. Fisher, James, Ebenezer Erskine, and Ralph Erskine. The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained: By Way of Question and Answer. 23rd ed. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1863.
  10. Ferguson, Sinclair. The Whole Christ : Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters. Ligonier Ministries, 2017.
  11. Lachman, David C. “The Marrow Controversy, 1718–1723 : An Historical and Theological Analysis.”  PhD Diss. University of St Andrews, 1979.
  12. Lachman, David C. “The Marrow Controversy 1718–1723: An Historical and Theological Analysis.” Dissertation, Rutherford House Books, 1988.
  13. Lachman, David C. The Marrow Controversy, 1718–1723: An Historical and Theological Analysis. Rutherford Studies. Series One, Historical Theology, 1. Lewiston NY: E. Mellen, 1999.
  14. Donald John Maclean,  All Things Are Ready: Understanding the Gospel In Its Fullness and Freeness (Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus, 2021).
  15. Myers, Stephen G. Scottish Federalism and Covenantalism in Transition: The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2015.
  16. Ryken, Philip Graham. Thomas Boston As Preacher of the Fourfold State. Rutherford Studies in Historical Theology. Carlisle England: Published for Rutherford House by Paternoster Press, 1999.
  17. VanDoodewaard, William. The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition: Marrow Theology in the Associate Presbytery and Associate Synod Secession Churches of Scotland (1733–1799). Reformed Historical-Theological Studies. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011.
  18. Westminster Assembly (1643-1652), Ebenezer Erskine, James Fisher, and Ralph Erskine. The Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained, by Way of Question and Answer. 3rd ed. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock, 2001.

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