John Ballantyne was born in Kinghorn, Fife on 8 May 1778 and died in Stonehaven, Kincardineshire on 5 November 1830. He entered Edinburgh University in 1794, supporting his studies with tutorial work. His philosophy teachers were James Finlayson and Dugald Stewart. Having joined the Secession Church he began theological studies under the Associate Presbytery in 1799, while subsisting as a schoolteacher. He was ordained to a newly opened church at Stonehaven in March 1805 and remained there on a modest stipend for the whole of his career. His first publication, A Comparison of Established and Dissenting Churches (1824), defended the dissenting (or, in the Scottish context, ‘voluntaryist’) principle that ministers of religion should be supported at the voluntary expense of their congregations rather than by the community at large. This challenged the financial basis of the established churches in both Scotland and England. His argument was in part moral, in part a political one about the basis of taxation: ‘Dissenters are stripped of their property – or, what amounts to the same thing, their share of the national property’ for exercising their conscience, while those with no conscience were free to shelter under the state religion (A Comparison, p. 20).
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.