Rev. James Philip
Editor’s note: In May’s ET we published the obituary of James Philip. We have since received this further tribute from Rev. John W. Keddie, of Struan, Isle of Skye.
One of the foremost Scottish preachers of the twentieth century, Rev. James Philip, has passed to his eternal reward. It was through his ministry at Holyrood Abbey Church of Scotland in Edinburgh during the 1960s that I encountered evangelical preaching.
I first attended Holyrood towards the end of 1965 with my older brother. We had been brought up under the dead nominalism that was so common in the kirk. Liberalism had taken its toll in debunking the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures. It was different in Holyrood.
Here was a preacher who took the Bible seriously. His consecutive expositions of Bible books brought home the meaning of the books themselves and the truths to be found in them. James Philip had great gifts as an expositor and preacher of the Word.
I remember looking forward to hearing his preaching, which opened up the greatness of God, the sovereign claims of Christ and the utter relevance of the Word for human life and eternity.
Mr Philip was not tall, nor did he have an impressive physical presence. However, he did have gravitas, so that everything he did seemed to carry with it solemn authority.
The Lord was beginning to deal with me when I went first to Holyrood, but really it was in the course of an impressive series on Daniel (later published as the book By the rivers of Babylon) that I came to firm faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mr Philip’s preaching was distinctly evangelical, though not often explicitly what might be called evangelistic. His framework was reformed and compelling, and no preaching has since left its mark on me in the way his did.
Notwithstanding deep appreciation for his ministry in the mid-sixties, I became uncomfortable with the ‘broad, liberal church-ism’ of the national church. So I went into the Free Church of Scotland in 1968, but this did not diminish my thankfulness to the Lord for the years I had sat under the ministry of this man of God.