John McLeod Campbell 1800 – 1872 was a nineteenth century Scottish minister who has also been called Scotland’s most creative Reformed theologian
John McLeod Campbell was a supporter of homeopathy, and he contributed to the Chapman Memorial Fund in honour of Matthew James Chapman.
John Mcleod Campbell was a friend of Thomas Erskine of Linlathen,
Through sustained reflection on Scripture and the pastoral questions of his congregation in Row (now known as Rhu) and in Glasgow, Campbell became one of Scotland’s finest constructive and revisionary dogmatic theologians of the nineteenth century.
The Reverend Professor James B Torrance, now deceased, formerly of the University of Aberdeen, ranks him along with other great theological luminaries on the doctrine of the atonement, placing Campbell alongside the early church father Athanasius of Alexandria, and Anselm of Canterbury.
In the nineteenth century, perhaps no one else was as notable (or constructive) as an exponent and thinker regarding the doctrine of the atonement. Campbell took his cue from his close reading of the early church fathers, the historic Reformed confessions and catechisms, John Calvin, Martin Luther‘s commentary on Galatians, Jonathan Edwards‘s works, and intense study of Scripture – arriving at his own conclusions after much thought, writing, preaching and reflection.
Jonathan Edwards interesting question regarding the atonement which originally became one of the impetus’ for Campbell’s work, was this: “Could God be satisfied by Christ’s earnest and honest repentance on behalf of humanity, or was his death necessary for satisfaction, forgiveness, and atonement to occur?”
Asked in another way, did Christ have to die to effect atonement, or was there another way for atonement to take place?
In addition to this question, there were other questions regarding the nature and character of God, the extent of the atonement, and the effect of the atonement in the life of Christians.
Though theologically astute, Campbell also was pastorally sensitive to the attitude of his parishioners in living as Christians. He discovered that their Christianity was essentially joyless and depressing.
Campbell realized that their understanding of Christianity was poor at best, and that such an unfamiliarity with the main content of Christianity helped cause their morose and weary views of what living as Christians was to be like.