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Event – Scottish confusion

August 2017

On 5 July, a memorial service was held for Dr Gordon Wilson, former leader of the Scottish National Party and co-founder of SOLAS. The service, carried out in St Peter’s Free Church, Dundee, was conducted by Reformed minister David Robertson.

The church itself is known for being the preaching place of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, who in November 1836 was inducted into the leadership there. It is now part of the Free Church of Scotland.

Derek Prime, former pastor of Charlotte Chapel Baptist Church, Edinburgh, has testified to the evangelical nature of St Peter’s, saying, ‘The re-establishment of an evangelical witness at St Peter’s, Dundee, in these recent years has been a tremendous encouragement and a spiritual blessing to many in Dundee and far beyond’.

Given the Evangelical and Reformed character of the church, it can only be surprising to many that, during the memorial service, prayer was offered by Roman Catholic Bishop Vincent Logan for the soul of the dead man, counter to Reformation theology and the doctrinal standards of the Free Church of Scotland.

On his blog, The Wee Flea, Mr Robertson spoke of many political figures attending the funeral of Mr Gordon, who was a powerful figure in Scottish politics. He also admitted he was ‘sad’ to hear the Catholic bishop pray along such lines. Mr Robertson said: ‘Bishop Vincent Logan is a lovely man who has served Christ for many years, but in his prayer he reflected something that was really quite sad’.

Reformation anniversary

‘He prayed that Gordon being called from this world would be brought safely home to God’s kingdom and that he would be cleansed and given a place at the heavenly banquet. In this he was reflecting the Catholic doctrine of purgatory and that believers don’t go directly to heaven’.

‘But the biblical view is “today you will be with me in paradise”. He was praying for something that Gordon already has. When he came to believe in Jesus he was given eternal life’.

Mr Robertson also commented: ‘There were three main elements in the service that reflected Gordon’s life. His family, his political role and his faith in Christ. All three were spoken of. But I think the reading of the Word, the prayers, the heartfelt praise and the preaching of the Word all combined to point to the root and cause of it all: Christ’.

While some of Mr Robertson’s statements are reassuring, many Christians who love the gospel of justification by faith alone will be troubled that freedom was given to a Catholic bishop to express his erroneous views in a Reformed church, especially in this 500th year since the Reformation.

Mr Robertson’s description of a Roman Catholic bishop as a person who has ‘served Christ for many years’ chimes in with his broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland, on 16 September 2010, when he welcomed Pope Benedict to Scotland as ‘a fellow Christian’. Such rash statements surely only serve to confuse Christians and undermine the biblical gospel.