Paths of Wisdom – Dr Jo Jackson

In the recent past, disturbing reports of abuse perpetrated by leaders of churches and Christian organisations have come to light.

These abuses have taken place primarily against individuals who have been profoundly wounded in ways that are hard to comprehend. These reports also reveal deeply destructive church cultures that require careful and honest reflection and action.

Some of us will be impacted by these revelations in a direct way – either because we have experienced this abusive leadership ourselves or know those who are victims. For others this will bring back painful memories of abuse in other contexts. Still more of us will have been participants in, or at least witnesses to, the type of church cultures that have been described: that of fear, warped power dynamics, authoritarian leadership, prioritising the ‘ministry’ or organisation over individuals, valuing gifts over character, and intentional or unintentional gross denial of sin.

Being confronted with these things challenges us intellectually and will likely leave us with more questions than answers: How is this possible? How could it go on for so long? Who can be trusted? How should I respond? These revelations also challenge us emotionally, provoking a destabilising array of shock, horror, anger, fear, disillusionment, hopelessness, along with a deep sense of sadness and loss.

How we process and work through these questions and emotions is hugely important if we are going to be able to provide loving care and protection for the vulnerable, and seek to uphold the justice and integrity that Christ desires for His church. This will no doubt involve listening carefully to the voices of those who have been harmed, facing our own fears and sins, repenting of the desire for personal preservation and comfort, and choosing to speak the truth in love even when it is costly and painful. But the starting point must be on our knees before our Lord, crying out to Him for wisdom, help and healing.

Crying out to God

This crying out to God, or lament, is perhaps the primary way the Bible encourages us to respond to such troubling situations and accompanying questions, thoughts and feelings. Among other important steps, lament (both individually and collectively) will certainly be foundational to a good and right response to abuse in the body of Christ.

The Psalms provide us with a rich array of laments that we can draw upon, even when our own words fail us. Through these laments, the Lord invites us to pour out our heartache and confusion to Him – the One who is in control, who is faithful, kind, good, holy, just, who sees and who knows. As we lament, our Heavenly Father not only hears and acts, but transforms us and His church too.

Whether you are familiar with lament or not, Psalm 5 is a good place to start lamenting over abuse in the church. I hope the following will help you and your church family in crying out to God in this season of judgement and refinement of His church, as we hold onto the sure and certain promises of the Lord.

Psalm 5 as a lament for abuse

As you prepare to lament, make time and space that is unhurried and uninterrupted, where you are safe to call out to the Lord honestly and openly.

Take time to slowly read and say aloud vv.1-2, pausing between each verse:

Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.

We are intentionally and primarily turning to the Lord, rather than any other sources of wisdom, guidance and comfort. We are asking our Almighty Lord to listen, consider and hear our lament, for He is our King and our God.

With assurance of God’s inclined ear and expectation of His answer, we boldly lay out our requests before Him. As you move to verse 3, take time to be specific with your requests – the things you desperately need help with, your burdens for the abused, and your longings for the church. Say them out loud or perhaps write them down, engaging both your heart and your mind and note the prompt to wait expectantly:

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly. 

As you speak verse 4, 5 and 6, we are moved to tremble at God’s holiness and hatred of wickedness, arrogance and deceit:

For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong; 
you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
you, Lord, detest.

Consider and name before the Lord ways in which we have seen these sins displayed – by abusers, by those who have denied, ignored or downplayed such sin, by arrogance within our church cultures, and the reflection of these sins in our own hearts. Humble ourselves before this King who is never light on sin, and who detests those who unrepentantly abuse, wilfully or ignorantly. Ask Him to help us to hate what He hates and to fill us with godly fear of His right and terrible judgement. Shout out, or weep if you need to, as you name the wickedness you see.

Meditating on the Lord’s deep-seated and powerful hatred of abuse and wickedness leads us to come before Him with no merit of our own, but casting ourselves on His mercy. Consider kneeling before the Lord, bowing down with our bodies and hearts in utter reverence and humility, remembering that it is only – but assuredly – Jesus’ blood that covers our sins and opens up the way of forgiveness and redemption. With childlike dependence and confidence, we remember that while God’s judgements are measured, His love is immeasurable for those who come to Him. Spend some time meditating on this and after speaking this, verse 7, consider singing to the Lord about His love and mercy shown towards you in Jesus:

But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
toward your holy temple. 

As we move into the second half of the Psalm, use the words in verse 8 to recommit ourselves and our churches to the Lord’s leading, over and above our own wisdom or anyone else’s leading. Our desire is for His righteousness and our duty is wholly to the Lord, rather than to institutions or individuals. Ask Him to give us clarity of sight and unswerving obedience to His ways.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies –
make your way straight before me.

In the circumstance we find ourselves in, it can be hard to tell the truth from lies. But the Lord will certainly and decisively declare His true and right judgment on the guilty. As we rehearse verses 9-10, let’s ask the Lord for discernment as to who can and cannot be trusted. And let us urge the Lord to take action against his false shepherds, for it is ultimately against Him that they rebel:

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongues they tell lies.
Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you. 

Our lamenting will often involve groaning and weeping. This is good and right. But even as we do so, we do not lose sight of the gladness, joy and rejoicing that awaits us. Even now, as we take refuge in the Lord, we can be confident of his protection and blessing and experience joy amidst sorrow. We find our rest, not in our circumstances, but in the Lord Himself. He will not fail us or His church for whom He died. Repeat verse 11 and 12 out loud, perhaps two or three times, letting your mouth proclaim, your mind take pleasure in, and your heart experience the peace and protection that comes from these glorious truths and precious promises:

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favour as with a shield.

We stand together as we lament and repent, and also find ways to rejoice even in the light of abuse, confident that the Lord, our Lord, will hear and answer our laments.

Amen and amen.

More about Biblical Counselling UK is available at or you can contact them at or c/o Christ Church, Christchurch Street, Cambridge CB1 1HT

Sing with Awesome Cutler

Family Devotionals
By Awesome Cutlery
10 Publishing. 24 pages. £3.99
ISBN 978 1 913 278 670

Our family love Awesome Cutlery! We discovered this Christian musical duo early last year and have really enjoyed singing along to their songs on YouTube. We were delighted to hear they’ve produced a family devotional and started using it in November 2020.

There are 24 devotionals, each linked to a song from their album All Together Now. Its best to have the CD handy, or you can also listen to it on YouTube which worked really well for us.

Each devotional has a different set of elements like prayers, fun activities, questions, a challenge and even a three-legged walk! Prayers are simple and easy to understand which is what you want for young children. There are also funny comments and explanations from Captain Awesome and Cutlery Boy that kids will find hilarious!

The Bible verses for each day are connected to the song. The questions are easy for children to understand and help them connect Biblical truths from the song and readings. We found this to be a really helpful way to engage our children in learning more about God and His amazing love for us. Singing Biblical truths is a great way to let the word of God take root in your heart.

Family life at the best of times is busy! These short, fun devotionals have been a great resource for us as we’ve spent time thinking about God’s word and singing His praises.

If you’re new to family devotionals, this is a good introduction to studying God’s word together in a fun and engaging way with children. In our experience, these devotionals would work best with under-10’s.

If you’re looking for a resource to help your family read the Bible together then I would warmly recommend this to you.

When God says ‘go!’ and you say ‘no!’

Has there ever been a time when God has called you to ‘GO!’ and you’ve replied ‘NO!’? If you’re anything like me, then the honest answer will be: yes.

But not because you were wanting to be disobedient, but rather because you were feeling disabled by inadequacy. In those moments the soundtrack playing inside your head is like Robbie Williams’ hit track ‘I love my life’ played backwards. You don’t hear the words: ‘I am wonderful, I am magical, I am free’; instead you rehearse the lyrics: ‘I am weak, I am sinful, I am unable’.

It’s easy to buy into the lie that God calls and uses other people – the Christian celebrities (like John Lennox, Tim Keller, Amy Orr Ewing, or Rebecca McLaughlin) whose books adorn our shelves and podcasts are recorded on our phones. We don’t feel worthy or adequate to be God’s spokespersons. So we remain silent and under the radar.

However, when we feel that way, the Bible gives us two liberating verses: ‘We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us’ (2 Cor. 4:7). This is an excuse to get a customised hat or t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: ‘I am a crack pot’. We can rejoice in our felt weaknesses, because God demonstrates His power not in our strengths but in our weaknesses. At a time when Paul felt at his lowest he wrote these words: ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me’ (2 Cor. 12:9).

Let me tell you another story about how God uses people who are weak and feel inadequate. Out in the Bedouin desert, amid the burning sands and under the blazing sun, we meet a man who God calls to be His spokesperson. Yet Moses feels totally inadequate to the task. It has been said that Moses spent 40 years in Egypt thinking he was somebody; Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness learning he was nobody; and now Moses is going to spend the next 40 years of the life discovering what God can do with nobodies. And that should be an encouragement to all of us who feel like inadequate nobodies in evangelism.

In the following conversation, God provides five antidotes to the disabling poison of inadequacy.

Antidote 1 (Ex. 3:1-11)

Firstly, Moses objected: ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ (v.11). And God responds: ‘But I will be with you’ (v.12). Notice that God didn’t answer Moses’ question ‘Who am I?”. He simply promises: ‘I will be with you’! God does not need Moses to be anybody special. God will be to Moses all that he needs for the mission ahead!

The same is true for us in our evangelism. From one point of view, our sense of inadequacy is an indication of the reality that a human being is a breath clinging to the dust. We are nothing in ourselves. However, everything changes when we realise that the Living God is with us and we are filled with His Holy Spirit who breathes new life and power into us.

Antidote 2 (Ex. 3:12-22):

Secondly, Moses said to God: ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What shall I say to them?’ This is a natural question for them to ask, because the Israelites have spent almost 400 years in Egypt, a culture filled with many different deities. Which of them does Moses represent?

Sometimes we can be afraid of attempting or initiating a gospel conversation because we’re afraid we will be asked questions that we don’t know how to answer on the spot. It’s interesting how God responds to Moses – He teaches him. For the first time God reveals His covenant name YHWH: ‘I AM WHO I AM’. Then God educates Moses how he is to answer that question: ‘Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘YHWH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to … a land flowing with milk and honey”.’

The Lord has blessed us by raising up many helpful apologists who can help us learn how to respond to the questions asked in our culture today (see ‘The Knowledge Gap’ article to find out more).

Antidote 3 (Ex. 4:1-9):

Thirdly, Moses objected: ‘But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice’. His concern is that history will repeat itself. Remember how 40 years previously Moses had attempted in his own strength to liberate the Israelites from slavery. However, the Israelites responded to him with contempt. Moses has spent 40 years in the desert healing from the wounds of rejection and is afraid of getting hurt again.

Likewise, Christians can be afraid of how people will respond to us and fear being rejected by them (we have thought about this in ‘The Fear Gap’). However, how people respond is not something you can control. That’s God’s problem, not ours.

God corrects the problem by giving Moses three miraculous signs – which lift everyone’s eyes off Moses to see how great and mighty is his God! God usually chooses to work through unimpressive things – like an ordinary wooden staff, or like an ordinary shepherd called Moses. But when they are taken up in God’s mighty hands, they became extraordinarily useful for accomplishing His invincible purposes. And so you can be encouraged that God is able to take ordinary you, your testimony, your conversations, your good works, your invitations to gospel events, and work powerfully through you in the lives of your friends.

Antidote 4 (Ex. 4:10-12)

Fourthly, Moses pleaded with the LORD: ‘I’m not very good with words. I never have been and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.’ It’s been 40 long years out in the desert shepherding sheep, and his powers of speech have atrophied due to saying ‘baaaaa’ all day long. Moses doesn’t believe he has the skills and abilities to do what God has asked him to do. I’ve heard a lot of people lament: ‘I want to serve God, but I’m just not gifted enough’.

However God responds: ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.’

God already knows what we can and cannot do – because He made us. He formed us in our mother’s womb with the personality, talents, strengths and weaknesses that each of us possess. When God calls us to play our part in His great work, then we can be sure He has a place that fits us (see ‘The Fear Gap’). And He may also surprise us by enabling us to do things we never imagined we were capable of in ourselves.

Antidote 5 (Ex. 4:13-17):

Lastly, Moses exclaimed: ‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else!’ By this point Moses has run out of excuses, and just wants to run away. Then we read: ‘Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses…’

If you or I were writing the story, that would be the last we ever hear from Moses. But amazingly and graciously, God responds: ‘Is there not Aaron, your brother, … ? I know that he can speak well. … You shall speak to him … and he shall speak for you to the people’. As the story goes on we find that Aaron was more a hindrance than a help. But here’s the crucial thing to see here – Aaron didn’t replace or displace Moses in the plan. You cannot substitute someone else to take your place in God’s mission – you can’t just employ someone else to do it for you – it is no accident that God has placed you in your flat, in your course, with your friends, in your family, in your team. There’s an old hymn that says: ‘There’s a work for Jesus no one else can do but you’. The only person adequate to that unique task is you and Christ in you!

David Nixon is a minister at Carrubbers Christian Centre in Edinburgh.

This article is part of the ‘Mind the Gap’ series, a collection of short essays about overcoming everyday barriers to sharing the gospel. These are being published by Solas at with more to follow over the coming months. Its title within the series is ‘The Adequacy Gap’.

Start and end of life threatened in upcoming Westminster votes

As I look ahead, if I was to pick two significant future challenges, they would be start-of-life law change and end-of-life law change. It is not implausible that there could, within months, be major votes at Westminster on legalising both assisted suicide and also the ‘decriminalisation of abortion’.

In March, the Home Secretary introduced a Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in the House of Commons. It is a Government Bill and so will be given plenty of time for debate and will be considered a priority. It’s also what is called a ‘Christmas Tree Bill’.

Wide scope

What that means is that is it a very broad Bill, with a wide scope. For example, if passed, it will lead to tougher sentences for child sex offenders. It will give the police more powers to tackle protests that prevent businesses from carrying out their work. The age of retirement for judges will be raised to 75, and there is a whole host of other measures, too.

A Bill like this, with its wide range of ‘reforms’, is as a result more open to being amended on a range of other issues. Given the nature of this Bill, it is our assessment that there’s a much stronger possibility that it could be used to change the law on abortion. We’ve already witnessed attempts to put amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill to make abortion in England and Wales more widely available. Back then, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that amendment as outside the scope of the Domestic Abuse Bill and so it was withdrawn. It is much less likely that a similar amendment would be out of scope of this new Bill.

Legal safeguards

At the moment, there are certain legal safeguards in criminal law. It is, for example, legally necessary to get two doctors to sign off an abortion. It’s legally required that it meets certain specific grounds. Now of course, sadly, the interpretation of this law is very, very broad and, tragically, it’s been used to perform 9 million abortions since records began. But if you removed the final legal safeguards that do still exist, you open the door to abortion on demand, for any or no reason. If we’ve had 9 million abortions under the already very liberal laws since 1967, imagine how much worse the situation will be if it becomes all the more available.

The challenge on assisted suicide could come via an amendment to the very same Bill. This raises the highly disturbing idea that you could see votes on legalising assisted suicide and making abortion more available around the same time.

Then there is the rumour of an upcoming Queen’s Speech. This would set out the UK Government’s post-Covid-19 legislative agenda. A new NHS Bill is expected which will introduce various reforms. Once again, such a Bill will be fairly broad in scope and as such, it could see an assisted-suicide amendment tagged on.

Pray for God’s wisdom

This is the ‘mucky business’ of politics. It’s a world of deals, strategies, feints and counter-feints. But knowing about challenges ahead of time means we can be praying and preparing. Perhaps the most important way of helping is to pray for God’s wisdom, grace and favour as ‘onside’ MPs seek to persuade colleagues to reject dangerous changes in the law when it comes to assisted suicide and abortion.

It helps, when facing challenges like this, to remember God is sovereign. King Jesus is on the throne and His agenda will ultimately win the day. In fact, the biggest game-changer is the Lord Himself and so, despite these two significant and serious challenges, we can still face the future with faith, hope and expectation that, whatever the outcome, God can still bring good, even from evil.

James Mildred

James Mildred is the Communications Manager for CARE (Christian Action Research and Education)

Escaping Spiritual Abuse

There is no reason to doubt the good motives of the book: to help identify spiritual abuse, ‘to seek better response [to it] and prevention [of it]’ (p.39, cf. p.17) and to help us think ‘about what healthy leadership and healthy Christian culture look like’ (p.3).

In large part (but not all) the book is successful, but it has weaknesses.

On the positive side, the book is academically well supported by other writings on abuse and by evidence from those who have reported being abused – many quotes from respondents are included.

Victims can feel well listened to and also that this book is a key stepping-stone in the right direction. It is clearly informative and will help many to empathise and respond better to abuse that has happened – and to create cultures that limit potential for abuse in future.

A very helpful checklist of questions is included that can be used by all in the congregation. These provide an early-warning system to identify cultures that could facilitate abuse, but also lead churches in a better direction.

There is also much-appreciated humility in the book. There is recognition that what the authors are seeking to do could be used as a weapon against the church (p.4, p.7) though an example is given of one such concerned person who ‘now having listened to us … was completely on board’ (p.37).

Biblical rigour needed

Nonetheless, it won’t (yet) have everyone ‘completely on board’. For that to happen, the book needs Biblical rigour. Despite many good points and observations being made (such as descriptions of coercive control and elitism within a church or within wider tribes), there is a real danger that the book could fail to gain the support of wider sections of the Biblical church and so weaken the remedy that the authors (and victims and others) so keenly want to see developed.

The book can, at times, feel like reading a sociology essay or management improvement manual. However, the main weaknesses are its lack of Biblical rigour and its current definition of spiritual abuse. The consequent implications, I believe, are dangerous – though not irreparable – as they seem, on occasion, to collide with Biblical examples to the contrary. For example, the impression given that any behaviour resulting in isolation or exclusion is universally bad (contra 1 Cor. 5:2) or that all expectation to conform must also necessarily be bad (contra Rom. 8:29).

It is important that these things be corrected and that Biblical discipline, when properly applied, should not be called spiritual abuse. The current definition, however, does not guard against this attack on the Bible and, indeed, may actually serve to make Biblical discipline even rarer, which, given the current widespread lack of discipline in the church, is not an insignificant concern. It is not just coercion and control that bring spiritual abuse but, also, a lack of Biblical discipline (including, for example, not dealing with false teachers). Where Biblical discipline is not exercised, this abdication of responsibility is also a form of abuse – though less recognised – in that it does not protect the wider flock (or other members in a youth group, for example) and causes great harm – and potentially eternal harm.

Thankfully, the authors model what they seek to teach in humility, and they recognise that their definition of spiritual abuse is a work in progress and are open to suggestions for improvement.

The authors recognise that there will not be agreement on all points of doctrine (p.45). However, they are less clear that there needs to be a Biblical response of discipline when essential doctrines/behaviour are not held to.

Any future edition of this book would benefit from including scenarios that deal with these matters – whether they relate to a local church or to a whole denomination – though it would be a brave book that did so. We wait and see…

Steven Hanna

Steven Hanna is minister of Christ Church, Exeter, in the Free Church of England

On Q. And You. And…

Our lives take place increasingly against a background of conspiracy theories.

From the vaccines altering your DNA, to the accusations that the US election was ‘stolen’, to QAnon, we seem surrounded by frightening scenarios of all kinds. It is not that conspiracies never ever happen. It is more our willingness to believe them so readily which makes me wonder.

Why is the contemporary world so awash with these things? And why should Christians think twice before buying into them? Here are some general thoughts to bear in mind.

First, we should realise that the Postmodern mindset, which informs modern society, sets us up for conspiracy theories. Unlike a Christian worldview, it doubts that there is such a thing as truth, and sees all communication as manipulation of the weak by the strong. If we accept this, then everything is actually a conspiracy.

Second, because a lot of people like to believe something, that doesn’t mean it’s true. As Christians especially we should understand that. Think of the success of  The Da Vinci Code. The human psyche loves the sensational rather than everyday facts and evidence. Third, as our world becomes more

apocalyptic in its feel, it is easy for Christians to forget the truth of common grace. The Bible does not see every non-Christian as a threat, or worse, some scheming demon. They are fallen sinners, yes, but relatively speaking many are good, sensible people, and all are made in God’s image. Let’s keep things in perspective.

Personality types?

Maybe some personalities are more prone to conspiracy theories. Here the book Educated  by Tara Westover is instructive. In it she tells her story of being brought up in Idaho by her Mormon family who live ‘off grid’ – no birth certificate, avoidance of government, public schooling, hospitals and medication, which are all, according to her very dominant father, a conspiracy of the ‘illuminati’. Meanwhile, their own home is a violent and abusive place, something of a bunker prepared for ‘end-time’ – firstly linked with the supposed millennium Y2K catastrophe which never materialised. The only ray of hope comes as Tara is discovered to have a gift for singing and her father obviously enjoys the congratulations and reflected glory. Later, as she begins to break away and attends Brigham Young University, she hears a lecturer describing bipolar syndrome and immediately feels she is listening to a description of her dad – depression, paranoia, euphoria, delusions of grandeur, persecution complex. Are those of us with a bent towards such things more prone to conspiracy theories?

The recent Netflix docudrama  The Social Dilemma  is a ‘must-see’. Put together with the help of those who have worked in powerful positions within Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it raises big questions about the ability of the internet to promote conspiracy theories, and indeed to destabilise society.

The internet

We should realise that the AI search engines behind the screen are not there with the object of you finding truth. They cannot even recognise truth. The algorithms are optimised to ‘success’ for advertisers – which simply means keeping your attention. They will, therefore, tell the conspiracy theorist basically what he wants to hear – and they are very good at calculating that. Hence, for example, given the same question, they are likely to point Republicans to certain websites and Democrats to others – with the result that both sides see each other as ‘stupid’. Your internet search for ‘the facts’ is frequently not what you think it is. Is this a conspiracy?

John Benton

John Benton is Director of Pastoral Support at The Pastor’s Academy,

Treasures from the lives of Scottish Christians for today

This is an excellent, scholarly, book, recounting of the story of the church in Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries through the personalities involved.

The beginning of the 16th century was the time of the Reformation ignited by Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg castle. Through reading the Bible, Luther rediscovered the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. He realised that simply by believing in Jesus Christ he was made right with God and was fit for heaven. This was an abhorrent doctrine to the corrupted medieval Roman Catholic church which was committed to salvation by works. According to this teaching you had to live a good enough life to enter heaven or pay your way instead.

Early in the 16th century, the Reformation doctrines reached the shores of Scotland, and Donald Macleod recounts how Patrick Hamilton (1504-1528) and George Wishart (1513–1546) were the first Scots to preach them and die as a result. Next came John Knox (c.1514–1572) who became famous for his fiery preaching and uncompromising adherence to the gospel. Knox was a major contributor to the  Scots Confession  (1560) and  First Book of Discipline  (1560) which were mileposts in Scotland becoming a Protestant country.

In the following chapter Macleod introduces Andrew Melville (1545–1622), an academic recognised by his European peers, who was responsible for the production of the  Second Book of Discipline (1578) which laid the foundations for Scottish presbyterianism. The next theologian Macleod presents to us is Robert Bruce (1555–1631), not to be confused with Robert Bruce, King of Scotland (1274–1329). Bruce was an apprentice of Andrew Melville and he became the Minister at St Giles, Edinburgh. He was a favourite of King James VI, but later in his ministry he was exiled by the same king.

Founder of Reformed Church

Macleod then tells us about Alexander Henderson (c.1583 –1646) who was one of the drafters of the National Covenant (1638) and, as such, was one of the founders of the Reformed church in Scotland. The National Covenant rejected King Charles I attempts to impose the English Book of Common Prayer on the Scottish church. Henderson battled for a free Scottish church and Parliament.

The next two theologians Macleod tells us about continued in the same line: Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661), author of  Lex, Rex and David Dickson (1583–1663). These gospel-hearted men thought long and hard about the relationship between church and state. Rutherford was an attendee at the Westminster Assembly (1643–1653) which produced the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), a summary of Reformed christian doctrine. The final theologian Macleod describes is Robert Leighton (1611–1684) who became Archbishop of Glasgow, and Principal of the University of Edinburgh from 1653 to 1662. He wrote a famous commentary on 1 Peter.

I really enjoyed reading this book and finding out about these men of God who did battle for the gospel in their life and times. In our day and age it is unfashionable to be a Christian and even more unfashionable to be interested in the history of the Scottish Reformation! However, for the searcher after truth, there are treasures to be dug up in the lives of these Scottish Christians. This book contains many of them and I highly recommend it.