Marrow Controversy

The Marrow of Modern Divinity has been one of the most influential books in the history of the Church in Scotland. It was written by E. F. usually attributed to Edward Fisher and is a book about the relationship between the law and the gospel.


The Marrow was first published in England in the 1640s but was largely forgotten until it was republished about 70 years later by James Hog on the recommendation of Thomas Boston. Boston, a country preacher, found a copy of the book in his parish and delighted in the teaching of the gospel which the Marrow proclaimed. However the volume was banned by the Church of Scotland General Assembly in 1720. The Assembly condemned the view that the assurance was of the essence of faith. It accused the Marrow of antinomianism and of teaching universal redemption. The Marrow above all taught a full, free and universal offer of the gospel – that there is good news for everyone without exception.

Twelve Marrowmen including Thomas Boston and Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine opposed its ban at the assembly of 1721, claiming that teachings which the Assembly had condemned were both scriptural and confessional. Moreover they said the book was being misrepresented and that its sayings were being taken out of context. Nevertheless the Marrow was again condemned and its supporters were publicly rebuked by the Assembly in 1722.

A new edition of the Marrow was published in 1726 along with Thomas Boston's voluminous notes and has been reprinted frequently, the latest edition being published in 2010.