In the spring of 1866, a tumultuous time for the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, several prominent ministers and theologians of the day came together to deliver a series of lectures in Glasgow—defending portions of the faith such as divine revelation, confession, and the Sabbath, which were under attack from a “new theology.” These lectures, by Patrick Fairbairn, Robert Buchanan, Henry Calderwood, William Symington, Alexander R. MacEwen, and Marcus Dods, were meant to vindicate the established beliefs and confirm the foundations of faith for their fellow countrymen.
Patrick Fairbairn (1805–1874) was educated at the University of Edinburgh before becoming professor of Theology at Free Church Theological College. He later became professor of church history and exegesis at the Free Church College in Glasgow.
Robert Buchanan (1802–1875) was educated at the University of Glasgow before becoming minister of Garunnock. Buchanan went on to pastor several churches in Scotland, including the Tron Church in Glasgow and the church in Salton, Haddingtonshire.
Henry Calderwood (1830–1897) was a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, where he was educated. He was ordained through the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and pastored at the Greyfriars church in Glasgow. His first and most famous work, The Philosophy of the Infinite, was a response to the emerging philosophy that man cannot possibly know the infinite divine; consequently, Calderwood’s thought was a complete antithesis to Hegelian doctrine. The Parables of Our Lord was among his best-known religious works.
William Symington was a professor of systematic theology in the Free Church, Glasgow. His works include Messiah the Prince, On the Atonement and Intercession of Jesus Christ, and The Character and Claims of the Scottish Martyrs.
Alexander R. MacEwen (1830–1897) was a moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland. He studied at several institutions throughout the UK and Europe and received degrees from both the University of Glasgow and Balliol College, Oxford. A minister and writer, MacEwen and was the author of The History of the Church of Scotland, vols. I and II and The Eastern Church in Greece.
Marcus Dods (1834–1909) was born in Belford, Northumberland. Dods went on to study divinity and theology at Edinburgh Academy and Edinburgh University, where he graduated in 1854. He was a highly respected scholar, who published over a dozen books of theology, including The Parables of Our Lord, recognized for their expansive critical research.