“I applied for jobs from Kirkwall to Cowdenbeath, but one summer’s day in 1969 two letters dropped on the doormat. One from the Stornoway Gazette and one from the Daily Record: one rejection, one interview offer. And not the way round you would think. Aye, the good people of Lewis have no idea how lucky they got.”
“Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
Last month, a small group of us enjoyed a visit to the Gambia, a small country on the West Coast of Africa. Gambia is well known as a beautiful and welcoming country, with temperatures in the mid to high 30’s at this time of year. It is a predominantly Muslim population, therefore Christ is known only as prophet, rather than as the Saviour of sinners.
Having felt the searing heat of Gambia, not known in our Hebridean climate, it was a shock to the system to come back home to the recent snowfall and freezing conditions. We may not experience as much snow as other countries, but snow is something that is never experienced in Gambia.
Someone brought my attention to a link to a worthwhile teaching series (available here) on the Shorter Catechism by Rev. Robert McCurley. Most of the videos are around 15 minutes long, so not too time consuming.
The following is the Moderator’s Address at the Free Church of Scotland General Assembly in 1995. The Moderator was Rev Murdo Alex Macleod (Stornoway Free Church) and the address was entitled ‘the Primacy of Preaching.’
Rev. Macleod believed that there was a crisis of true preaching in the Free Church. Many of the issues dealt with in his address have greatly escalated in the 22 years that have elapsed. The need for a critical eye to be cast upon the pulpits of our land, whatever our denomination, is surely needed even more so in our day. We ought to pray for a restoration of true preaching in the pulpits of Scotland today.
The paper is as follows, and has been reproduced here with kind permission of the Macleod family…
The Primacy of Preaching
Addressing the meeting of the Synod of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands in 1927, that eminent Free Church man, Sir James Simpson, concluded his address by stating that the Free Church of Scotland, acknowledged to be the Church of the Reformation and of the Disruption even by the State, was fulfilling its trust with no little measure of success. “Its work,” he said, “limited in extent, is comprehensive in character. It speaks with no uncertain voice, and in a tone to be heard, on questions of religion and morals, public and private. Its ministry is evangelical and its members generally live consistent Christian lives.”
“…The Lord will give grace and glory…” (Psalm 84:11)
In ancient days, when larger ships were unable to get close enough to shore to dock due to stormy conditions, the ship’s anchor would be placed in a small boat called a forerunner. The forerunner carried the anchor through the breakers and dropped it at the harbour securing the larger ship. When weather conditions would permit, the larger ship would slowly be drawn to shore through the anchor chain, and the ship would eventually arrive safely at the harbour.
Aspects of the Religious History of Lewis has long been out of print, with copies occasionally found on the second-hand market. It was written by Rev Murdo Macaulay, Free Church Minister in Back, after his retirement in 1975. The book gives an account of the history of the Christian faith on the Isle of Lewis from earliest times up to 1843, an Island that has experienced much by the way of Gospel blessings over many years.
“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:1-2)
The Clisham is the highest mountain in the Outer Hebrides at 799 metres (2,621 ft). If you climb it in favourable conditions, the views from the summit are spectacular.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Hebrews 10:23)
The Presbyterian Church in Scotland has long associated itself with a Confession of Faith as its subordinate standard, so much so that Scottish Presbyterianism and Confessionalism have gone hand in hand. The Scots Confession of 1560 (co-authored by John Knox) had been the accepted confession of faith of the Scottish Church up until the time of the famous Westminster Assembly, from which the Westminster Confession of Faith we know today was published in 1646.
That said, it is entirely legitimate to ask the question, “Should we have a confession of faith?” The fact that, historically speaking, we have always had a confession of faith isn’t sufficient in and of itself to answer that question.