Revival in the Highlands

Reflections on a visit to Easter Ross and Inverness-shire

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Kiltarlity Free Church 

 I was brought up and educated in that most underrated area of the Scottish Highlands, Easter Ross. My first charge was in the village of Brora, Sutherland Shire, where our son and first daughter were born. My wife is from the island of Lewis. I have a great love and affection for the Highlands and have greatly benefited from being associated with its people, studying its history and living in its culture.

The Last Stronghold of the Pure Gospel? 

For some time it has been obvious to me, and to others, that the image of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland as the last bastion of Christianity in the United Kingdom is at best an illusion. Although there are still many fine churches and Christians, the fact is that the church has declined phenomenally over the past four decades. It is in a seemingly terminal decline and needs a real awakening.

The Darnell Prophecy

When I was in Brora I became aware of an infamous ‘prophecy’ by Jean Darnell, which stated that the fires of revival would spread from Orkney through the north-east to the rest of the United Kingdom. Often I was visited by the latest itinerant charismatic apostle/prophet/preacher through whom God was going to do great things, and through whom the prophecy was going to be fulfilled. Needless to say it never happened. Instead what we have ended up with is an increasing number of churches or Christian organisations with a declining number of Christians. When I was in Brora there were two churches and now there are five. Of course not all of this is down to the endless proliferation of independent charismatic churches, or the Starbucks like chain churches (although they usually can’t be bothered with the rural areas because they have bought into the ‘God has called us to reach the influencers in the city centres first’ mentality). The continual splitting of Presbyterian churches and the constant downgrading and degrading of the Church of Scotland are also to blame.

 The Answer?

So what is the answer? Should we return to the somewhat idealistic notion of the godly Highlands with the narrow sect like, legalistic mentality of the Free Presbyterians and the Free Church Continuing (and the remnant of that view within the Free Church)? Believe that the only game in town is the parish church, even as we watch it decline in to endless linkages that are little more than a social network for religious types who run clubs for children and old people? Or wait for the next great revival whether it be of the new charismatic type, or the old brethren style Gospel Hall revivalism? I would like to suggest an alternative.

This past weekend I was at an induction and a communion in two different Free churches. Both of them were instructive, stimulating and encouraging.

Rosskeen Free Church – on Friday night I was at the induction of Calum Macmillan (Honda) to the charge of Rosskeen.   I don’t like inductions because I often find them boring, unrealistic and disconnected.   To be honest this one did not promise to be much better. But it was! The attendance was good, but not spectacular. A couple of hundred people gathered. In the old days (about 25 years ago!) there would have been twice the number. The service was short, the singing hearty and the preaching by Roddy Barvas, passionate and clear. The speeches afterwards were warm and humorous. I don’t know what Daniel Patterson had had before the induction, but whatever it was, his congregation need to keep him away from it! He spoke about Honda’s library having been burned in a fire and all two books having been lost – which was a real shame because he hadn’t finished colouring in one! His jokes were even worse than that! “Some people are like slinkies – they are useless and make you smile when they fall downstairs”. But bad jokes notwithstanding, it was an encouraging time. The reception afterwards in the Capstone cafe of the church was a real pointer to the future for that congregation.

Church Killers? 

Like all congregations it has its problems. Not least the presence of a legalism and church unreality that threatened to kill the whole church. People want their traditions, and their family customs, more than they want the prosperity of the gospel. Minor issues become major points of principle. Personalities, and clashes thereof, dominate and wear out. More than a hint of that was given in the account of proceedings read out by the Presbytery. So none of us were left with a rosy-eyed view that this was the best congregation in the North with the best Minister! But I did find the whole thing hopeful.

Your Young Men will Dream Dreams

Calum Honda is typical of a new generation of young men in the Free Church, who are enormously gifted, passionate and determined to glorify Christ in the preaching of his word. The potential is wonderful, but perhaps they will permit a word of caution from someone who has now entered his fourth decade of ministry?! They need to ensure, that in correcting the excesses of some of the old legalism, they do not swing too far the other way, and end up with a broad evangelicalism which misses out on the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and our utter dependence on the Holy Spirit to see any fruit at all. Pride and over reliance on self and the resultant despair are the continual besetting sins of us all, but especially those of us who just know that we are the next Spurgeon/Kennedy/Keller!

Kiltarlity Free Church – on Sunday I preached at the communion service at this rural Inverness-shire Church. It was, for me, a lovely experience. The outside of the church is as traditional as you could expect; the inside, as contemporary as you would want. The minister, Joe Barnard, an American who has managed to challenge the stereotype that Americans cannot really minister in the Highlands, has done a wonderful job. (For evidence of some of that click this earlier blog – Here )  I was really impressed both with his family, and his spiritual family. A real mix of locals, incomers, Free Church, Free Presbyterian, Church of Scotland, Anglican and various other assorted Christian and non-Christian backgrounds, new converts, old Christians, and seekers. There were a variety of ages and social backgrounds as well. I thought the praise led by John Wilson, was some of the best that I have heard.  I loved the fact that there was a young American pastor being guided and supported by an older Free Church elder (James Fraser, chairman of our Board of Trustees) with the praise being led by a young local man trained in London! (It is also essential to remember that the church is not just about the minister or elders – or key personalities – that view has been a curse in the Highlands!  It is the whole body…I was really impressed with the sound man (Paul – I think) and others in the fellowship who are clearly on board members of the body).

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Evangelising the Highlands

We held an open event at 4 pm in the afternoon, which was attended by people from all over the area. We were looking at how we can evangelise the Highlands. It was wonderful to see the interest. I found it to be a stimulating and encouraging day. For me it was special to meet someone who had been at school with me, and who is now a Christian. I find each time I go back to the Highlands I meet up with people who, when I knew them in the past, had very little interest in Christianity, but are now believers. The sowing of seed decades ago has resulted in new life today.

Kiltarlity also has its problems, but I would challenge any believer to go there, and not be encouraged by what is happening. It is also a church that I would be more than happy to take any nonbeliever to, as I would the Capstone Centre in Rosskeen.

Pointers to Renewal

I think that both Kiltarlity and Rosskeen give pointers to the renewal and reformation of the church in the Highlands. I don’t mean because they are Free Church, although belonging to a denomination, which takes the word of God seriously, and which is seeking to bring it into contemporary Scotland can only be helpful. I mean because they are seeking to be biblical churches in the midst of a compromised church and confused culture.

Biblical Churches of any Denomination

I was encouraged by meeting Pete Rennie, pastor of a new Baptist church plant in Inverness. He is clearly on the same wavelength. And there are others in different denominations.   I think what all three churches show is that churches need real, biblical, godly leadership; that they need to be open, without rejecting the best of the past and that they need to be focused on Christ, Word-based and community centered, with the community of the church reaching out into the local community.

14225393_10154506236740948_5797801158870493842_n The View from the Kiltarlity Free Church Manse…

May the Beauty of the Lord….

Both congregations are in beautiful settings, but both need the beauty of the Lord to shine upon them (real revival), otherwise they will just be spiritual wastelands in a beautiful physical setting.   Unless there is a real and radical shift in the mentality of most of our congregations they will wither and die.   But when that shift occurs, it opens up great possibilities. I don’t believe that either of the two churches I visited are the finished product, any more than St Peters is.   But what I saw this weekend indicated that they have made a beginning. It is the sound of a breeze in the balsam trees! Maybe revival, the extraordinary work of the Spirit of God, will come through the ordinary means of grace – prayer, the Word, the sacraments and the church of Christ!  Change and renewal in all around I see…O thou who changest not, abide with me!

 

 


9 thoughts on “Revival in the Highlands

  1. Dear brother.

    I am so glad to see how the Lord is blessing Kiltarlity. I was present at a number of the tent meetings held by the Faith Mission in the village over recent weeks. It was encouraging to hear a simple Gospel simply presented.

    I would just like to suggest a note of caution. I don’t think there was any need in your praise of what you see as positive to mention by name at least 3 or 4 other Christian groups by name in a negative light.

    The first time I met you was at a uccf event at Central Baptist in Dundee. You gave a fantastic overview of ways in which we as students could be effective persuaders in the Gospel. However, afterwards in the question session you said something negative about the brethren which I felt jarred with your winsome presentation. Since then in various blog posts including the latest one you have mentioned the brethren with negative connotations. I understand that you may have had a negative experience of the Gospel Hall in Dingwall when you were young, but I would ask you to not use us as an example of what you think is wrong with evangelicalism in Scotland.

    I know personally of many people in brethren assemblies all over Scotland who read your posts with prayerful interest.

    Just as you seek (and succeed with His help) to be an effective persuader in the public square – I believe it would be of benefit to you as a persuader within Scottish evangelicalism if you were to be more brotherly in your tone to other believers.

    Yours warmly in Christ,

    Iain Jamieson

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    1. Thanks Iain,

      Your comments are appreciated, although I think you are being a little bit oversensitive. I actually critiqued every single Christian group in the short article – including the Free Church! You seem a little bit sensitive about the Brethren – and seem to be reading things into my comments that are not there. My experience of the Gospel Hall in Dingwall, for example, was largely positive. I also know many fine people within the brethren, including many of my own relatives who are still there. However there seems to be an inability to face up to the reality of the situations that we face. This is especially true of the Brethren movement, which has declined spectacularly over the past couple of decades. Ex-Brethren seems to be the largest denomination in Scotland nowadays! many brethren assemblies have declined or closed,( including the one in Dingwall which we used to go to), and others have turned into independent churches. Is it unbrotherly to ask why this is so? Should we pretend that it is otherwise?

      I’m sorry that you’re reading into my tone, something that is not there. That one simple remark about brethren style revivalist meetings was not intended to be a disparaging remark about the whole brethren movement, nor to dismiss all those who attend Brethren meetings. I have a great respect for many brethren, including one of the livelier churches in Dundee, Hillbank on the Hilltown! If Christians are going to be so sensitive, it is going to be impossible for anyone to have any kind of prophetic ministry which challenges both the church and the world!

  2. March 23, 2016

    Gnostic chiliastic evolution: Satan’s alternative plan of salvation

    By Linda Kimball

    “…so far as human wisdom and resources are concerned, the salvation of sinners is as impossible as raising the dead. Every conceivable method of expiation and purification has been tried without success.” Charles Hodge

    In the hearts of all humans, bar none, is the possibility of evil, thus sin, said GK Chesterton, is as obvious as potatoes. This being the case it is completely irrational for the unrepentant to think they can purify themselves and others when it is their evil conscience and will turned toward wickedness – aspects of their souls – that need cleansing. And it is because man is evil and depraved, that the 20th century’s purification movements – Marxist Communism and Nazi Socialism – purified the human gene pool by murdering in excess of 160,000,000 men, women and children of which in Russia, approximately half were Christians. According to Srdja Trifkovic, persecution and martyrdom of Christians under 20th century totalitarianism, and mainly of Russian Orthodox Christians under Communist Bolshevism,

    “….is by far the greatest crime in all of recorded history….Attempts at “killing the soul” started only months after the Revolution of 1917.” Persecution and martyrdom was, “several times greater than the Holocaust in terms of innocent lives brutally destroyed. It has killed more Christians in a few decades than all other causes put together in all ages, with Islam a distant second as the cause of their death and suffering. And yet it still remains a largely unknown, often minimized, or scandalously glossed over crime.” (New Martyrs of the East and Coming Trials in the West, Srdja Trifkovic, OrthodoxyToday.com)

    In his analysis of Marxist Communism, early conservative intellectual Frank Meyer describes it as the state form taken by a materialist pagan,

    “…faith determined to rule the world” Communism is the “final synthesis of all heretical tendencies that have pervaded Western civilization for many centuries.” (The Conservative Intellectual Movement, pp. 251-252)

    Communism is a godless, philosophically pagan form of heretical Jewish elements and heretical Protestant liberalism’s upside-down, anti-creation account grounded in a chiliastic-evolutionary, apocalyptic proclamation of a coming new order based in belief in the inevitability of evolutionary progress from molecule to sea-weed, reptile, ape, hominid, and finally god-man and in the perfectibility of this fallen world. (1)

    Chiliasm in Greek means ‘thousand years’ and is primarily a godless version of the millennial belief expressed in some Christian denominations that there will be a paradise on earth where Christ will reign for a thousand years prior to the final judgment and future eternal state.

    The contemporary chiliastic-evolutionary movement is Technocracy. The world is being actively transformed by an amoral power elite and their minions according to a very narrow economical/political/social philosophy called Technocracy, and it is impacting every segment of society in every corner of the world:

    “Technocracy is being sponsored and orchestrated by a global elite led by David Rockefeller’s and Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Trilateral Commission…Originally started in the early 1930’s, Technocracy is antithetical to every American institution that made us into the greatest nation on earth. It eschews property rights, obsoletes capitalism, hates politicians and traditional structures, and promises a lofty utopian dream made possible only if engineers, scientists, and technicians are allowed to run society. When Aldous Huxley penned Brave New World in 1932, he accurately foresaw this wrenching transformation of society and predicted that the end of it would be a scientific dictatorship unlike anything the world has ever seen.” (Preface, Technocracy Rising, Patrick Wood)

    Huxley concluded that Technocracy produces scientific dictatorship designed to scientifically engineer, manipulate, dominate and control the world’s wealth and resources and micro-manage every human being in every detail of his life. Moreover, said Huxley, the scientific and evolutionary system itself would become a god that was worshipped and questioning any aspect of it, such as the validity of evolution as empirical science, or any decision or outcome would be tantamount to blasphemy.

    Like its’ 20th century counterparts, Technocracy is the evolutionary chiliastic expression of a coming Golden Age that is the culminating hubris of Promethean god-men who having ‘murdered’ the Christian God mean to purify and remake man and creation.

    In “Science, Politics and Gnosticism,” highly respected political philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901-85) identifies many modern Gnostic movements. They range from Comte’s positivism, to progressivism, Hegelianism, Masonry, Marxist Communism, Nazi Socialism, Schleiermacher’s doctrine of faith, Protestant liberalism, and Luciferian Theosophy.

    In an upside-down exegesis typical of Gnosticism, Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, leading Masonic thinker, and important formulator of chiliastic evolution wrote in her book, “The Secret Doctrine” volume II,

    “…it is but natural…to view Satan, the Serpent of Genesis, as the real creator and benefactor, the Father of Spiritual mankind…” (Theosophy University Press, 1888, p. 243, 513)

    Chiliastic-evolutionary systems are modern forms of ancient and very “elitist” pre-Christian and Christian-era Gnosticism which assigns the Holy Triune God to hell and instead worships Lucifer. Furthermore, it teaches that salvation is attained through the ‘elitist’ knowledge of Gnostic teachers such as gurus, god-men, certain scientists and Oprah Winfrey, a contemporary spiritual guide possessed of the knowledge of the Gnostic cosmogony.

    With Satan as the spiritual father of an army of unrepentant Gnostic pagans, it is no wonder that modern Gnostic systems have so far produced every dictatorial, genocidal utopian movement of the 20th century and underpin contemporary spiritually pagan, chiliastic New Age and Technocratic globalist’s hopes and visions. In his article, “Leftism a Radical Faith,” Bruce Riggs notes that much of the political history of the extended 20th century is that of massive extinctions of citizenries by their dictatorial governments:

    “Take the engineered mass starvations, torture chambers, firing squads, and gulags of Lenin and Stalin; Nazi gas chambers; Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge killing fields; the genocides of Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,”; and the tyrannical North Korean Sung dynasty, and one will find that over one hundred million people have been slaughtered.” (2)

    The authors of the Black Book of Communism point to the godless anti-creation Darwinian “biological and zoological” strain of thinking as the engine of evil that proved itself a most effective means of denying the humanity of millions of victims:

    “This strain of thinking is why so many of the crimes of Communism were crimes against humanity, and how Marxist-Leninist ideology managed to justify these crimes to its followers.” (The Black Book of Communism, Stephanie Courtois, p. 751)

    The devilish Gnostic rebel Vladimir Lenin concurs. Anti-creation Darwinism put an end to the belief that human, animals, and vegetable kinds bear no relation to one another and,

    “that they were created by God, and hence immutable.” (Fatal Fruit, Tom DeRosa, p. 9)

    Twentieth century Gnostic pagan god-states systematically dehumanized and murdered millions of people in order to create an imagined earthly Eden purified of evil, and this is clearly insane. Yet this evil religion whose spiritual father is Satan continues today as a God-hating, globally elitist, evolutionary progressive, politico-centric faith entirely disdainful of orthodox Christian and faithful Jewish beliefs and contemptuous of those who subscribe to them.

    In short, devilish Gnostic chiliastic evolution is a Satanic spiritually pagan religion with the look of a religious inquisition that represents the 20th century heretical version of orthodox Christianity. Unless we grasp this crucial point the nature of this devilishly evil religion will elude us. (3)

    Rise of Satan’s Chiliastic Technocratic Utopia

    In “False Dawn: The United Religions Initiative, Globalism, and the Quest for a One-World Religion,” Lee Penn wans that the United Religions Initiative (URI) and the Gaia initiative represents the spiritually pagan religious facet of the coming Technocratic New World Order. The URI is a United Nations organization that to a significant extent is animated by Satanic Gnostic chiliastic evolution. In preparation for the coming new order, a ‘new’ pagan spiritually is under construction of which the Earth Charter is set to become its Holy Writ.

    Crafted by a conclave of ‘Wise Persons’ headed by former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev, the Charter’s benign sounding verbiage,

    “and symbolic nature camouflages its dangerous purpose. The Charter is intended to become a universally adopted creed that will psychologically prepare the world’s children to accept the necessity of world government to save the environment. It is also an outrageous attempt to indoctrinate your children in the UN’s New Age paganism.” (The New World Religion, William F. Jasper, New American, 2002)

    The URI has attracted a diverse group of activists and powerful supporters such as the Dalai Lama, progressive churchmen from the People’s Republic of China, pro-gay Episcopalians, radical Muslims, feminist goddesses and witches, rich capitalist foundations, the Club of Rome, the Temple of Understanding, and the Lucis Trust, formerly called Lucifer Publishing. (pp. 5, 7, 23-26)

    Prominent supporters include occultist Robert Muller (former UN assistant secretary general and father of Common Core), Neale Donald Walsh, George Soros, Mikhail Gorbachev, Maurice Strong, Ted Turner, and Barbara Marx Hubbard. (ibid)

    Penn notes that evolution is absolutely ventral to the ambitions of Technocratic global elites. Thus after more than eighty years of nearly unopposed evolutionary evangelization in schools, seminaries, pulpits, media, academia and elsewhere global elite god-men like Jeremy Rifkin are finally free to declare that evolution is a living “Mind” enlarging its domain as it evolves up and through the “chain of species.” Moreover, now that the evolution god “Mind” reigns supreme, global elitists no longer feel like guests in someone else’s home and therefore obliged to make their behavior conform with a set of pre-existing cosmic rules:

    “It is our creation now. We make the rules (and) establish the parameters of reality. We create the world (and) no longer have to justify our behavior…We are responsible to nothing outside ourselves for we are the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever.” (Algeny, Rifkin, 1983, p. 188)

    Here we see that in the completely delusional, entirely depraved (Jer. 51: 17-18), and ultimately demonically orchestrated global elite dream-scape it is not the personal Triune God who has created and sustains the world. No, it is each Gnostic man-god who creates and sustains his own world and meaning in every moment out of his own divine consciousness. In other words, since according to the devil the substance of the Holy Creator God is distributed throughout all of the cosmos, including the mind of man, then by occult magic rituals such as transcendental meditation and brain-altering drugs, man can tap into the god-force within, thereby becoming a little god who controls the cosmos because he controls “Mind.” The physical world then, is an illusion because reality is inside the divine mind of the god-man.

    Given the likelihood that an ancient evil intelligence has crawled inside Rifkin and other Technocratic god-men the fact that New Age spirituality relies heavily on spirit revelations channeled through mediums such as Blavatsky, Bailey, Benjamin Crème, Robert Muller, Neale Donald Walsh and Barbara Marx Hubbard, to name but a few, should come as no surprise. Penn observes that all together they form a comprehensive anti-Gospel setting forth a Gnostic progressive vision of apocalyptic spiritualized totalitarianism that includes:

    1. Praise for Lucifer as the light-bearer and giver of wisdom

    2. Highly evolved humans are gods.

    3. Advocacy for extreme population control

    4. Concentrated hate directed at faithful Judaism, orthodox evangelical Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism5. Forecasting a pending, and for them, desirable selection of mankind in which the progressives enter the New Age millennium and reactionaries face extinction. For “New Age Apostles of ‘progressive’ Social Darwinism, these casualties are a necessary price to pay for human evolution.” (Penn, p. 7)

    Speaking through Barbara Marx Hubbard, her spirit guide ‘Christ’ prophesied in 1995 that the Rider of the Pale Horse will use the ‘sword’ as one of his means to “kill those who choose to remain self-centered.” (ibid, Penn, p. 322)

    The meaning of ‘self-centered’ is briefly defined in the Global Biodiversity Assessment; a document mandated by the U.N. sponsored Convention on Biological Diversity. This document explicitly refers to Christianity as a faith that, rather than making God and humans one with nature, has instead set God and humans “apart from nature,” a process in which nature has “lost its sacred qualities.” The document states:

    “Conversion to Christianity has….meant an abandonment of an affinity with the natural world.” (Al Gore, The United Nations and the Cult of Gaia, Cliff Kincaid, americasurvival.org, 1999)

    In other words, because orthodox Christianity teaches that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the Triune God and His creation that is only breached by Jesus Christ then idolaters like Jeremy Rifkin do not and cannot share the substance of the Triune God as pantheism teaches. According to Christianity man is radically different from the Lord and atonement, purification and mediation is achieved only through Jesus Christ, Who rose from the dead. This means that neither Rifkin nor any other Technocratic global elitist is god but rather an evil idolater speeding along the broad, smooth highway to hell.

    All modern Gnostic pagan movements share the same chiliastic goal: a coming “new pantheist order” and “new pagan god-man” completely purified of all evil and existing in oneness with the evolutionary god force. This means extermination of all faithful Christians and Jews and other dissenters who refuse to become one with the god of forces.

    Purification also extends to Biblical moral standards, sexual ethics, traditional marriage and traditions derived therefrom since they have been by-passed by the ongoing process of evolution. These will be changed just as all distinctions between nonlife forms, life forms and gender will be blurred in the idea of evolution from molecule to ape to man and woman to transgender to androgynous god-man. In the same way, all distinctions between good and evil, nations and religions will be merged in the chiliastic vision of worldly purification.

    In conclusion, Gnostic chiliastic evolution is the anti-gospel of Satan, thus the antithesis of the glorious Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ. So powerful is the stranglehold of Satan’s anti-gospel on millions of darkened Western minds that it has imaginatively inverted the order of creation and reversed the direction of Biblical theism, meaning that the millions of people whose minds are in bondage to Satan and his legions can no longer think right-side up. With creation ex nihilo virtually replaced by the evolution god it is now believed that men have not fallen from perfection but are instead gradually evolving upward from their ape beginnings toward greater and greater spiritual perfection.

    For all Westerners who are perhaps uncomfortable with, offended by, or outright hostile toward the personal Holy Triune God and His plan of salvation Satan’s anti-gospel provides them a chiliastic plan of purification and a substitute deity – evolution – the animated god force of the cosmos which men believe they can control and direct. Through scientifically controlled and directed evolution they imagine they are destined to realize unimaginable spiritual advances.

    1. Genesis, Creation, and Early Man, Fr. Seraphim Rose

    2. Leftism a Radical Faith, Bruce Riggs, American Thinker, 2014

    3. ibid, Klaus Fischer

    © Linda Kimball

    The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.

    (See RenewAmerica’s publishing standards.)

    Linda Kimball

    Linda Kimball is the author of numerous published articles and essays on culture, politics, and worldview. Her writings are published both nationally and internationally. Linda is a team member of Grassfire, New Media Alliance, and MoveOff.

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  3. I heard that prophecy, live, from Jean Darnall, too. Around the same time there were prophesies of greater unity between Scotland and England, emanating from Scotland and moving down the east side of the land.

    Your comment is highly perceptive:

    “It is also essential to remember that the church is not just about the minister or elders – or key personalities – that view has been a curse in the Highlands!”

    Not only in the Highlands, but throughout the church, no matter their governmental organisation, through processes of domination, manipulation and control and church “politics”; communication on a need to know basis. So much could be said on this.

    The church in the west lives in properous ease, in general, is absorbent, through the osmosis of culture, is dead in parts. In my despair, only a Sovereign move of God will breath life into the dry bones, revive the dead and remove the dead wood.

    It is stunning to know that Christ and His body is the temple of God. His dwelling place. This brings back vague half memories of a M’Cheyne sermon on the scripture where the priests couldn’t minister due to the presence of God, His presence which distinguishes His people from all the other people, as Moses pleaded. The presence that brought revival following a prayer of Count Zinzendorf and revival in N America and it’s assessment by Jonathan Edwards in “Religious Affections.” And in Scotland and in Wales, all a challenge to church leadership, and management.

    I think it was Gordon Fee who coined the phrase the the church seemed to be divided by “scholars on ice” or “fools on fire” when what is needed is “scholars on fire.”

    Throughout my life I’ve not come across as many Phd’s, in any field, as in the church and I wonder why. To gain scholastic credibility, authority, a weighty voice, or to know and love the LORD? On the other hand, position, place and prominence in some charismatic churches comes from perceived level of gifts of the Spirit.

    But all of this brings to mind an adage I’ve personalised, “If I found a perfect church I wouldn’t join it, otherwise I’d spoil it”.

    And I’ll end with a quotation from Matthew Henry ‘s commentary on Act s 2:42

    “joint fellowship with God is the best fellowship we can have with one another.” Amen. It is truly marvellous, the palpable presence of God with us. Unmanageable at the time.

  4. David,

    I think I have been around a wee bit longer than your good self: 60 years of conscious church attendance (in order Congregational, FIEC Baptist, UF, Brethren, non/inter denominational in Middle east, House Church, Anglican, International Baptist and Episcopalian) all of which has taught me that a common life in Christ and unity in Him is more important than doctrinal purity within any of these strands. Each has its strengths and weaknesses but when a congregation or fellowship gets to expressing its common life in Christ with warmth and mutual support spiritually and physically (I almost used practically but spiritual support is intensely practical).

    I remember the Jean Darnell prophecy, to which our approach should be the same as any other prophecy: test it, look for it coming to reality and avoid (out of respect for current law) stoning the prophet if it doesn’t. We should never act blindly in response to a “prophecy” (as you put it) but neither should we write them off as nonsense. If we can entertain angels unawares surely we can be blessed by a word of encouragement (subject to the testing process) from one who believes, rightly or wrongly that they are bringing it as of the Lord.

    Keep up the good work

    Alan

    1. Thanks Alan, great to hear from you.

      I appreciate your experience and your wisdom. I’m not too sure that I would make the same distinction that you seem to do between common life in Christ and doctrinal purity- I think the two go together. The Jean Darnell prophecy has been tested and found wanting! Basically, it has not come true – despite her protestations a couple of decades ago that it had been fulfilled. I think if such a prophecy turns out to be false, rather than being a word of encouragement, it becomes a source of discouragement. Praying that the Lord continues to bless you as you continue to serve him!

      1. Thanks David, for the positive feedback. When I mentioned doctrinal purity I wasn’t thinking of outright heresy. It was things like baptism, church government or even understanding of the Eucharist. These and many other of the things that often divide are not or should not be, a basis for fellowship between us. In the middle east we had a catholic apply to lead the day care centre at our church. She was surprised to find that, contrary to what she had been taught, it was possible to be a Christian without being a Catholic. Brought up in Glasgow with strong North of Ireland heritage I had to learn the other way. We had bible studies on a Friday morning with as many denominations represented as there were attendees. With perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 Christians in a country of 2 million Muslims you have to concentrate on what unites rather than what divides. We had children’s meetings under the banner of Child Evangelism Fellowship in the catholic church hall (at the Bishop’s invitation since that was the biggest) opening remarks by one of the priests, praise by a catholic couple from the Philippines (who came to our church) and the preaching by an American Pentecostal!

  5. Revival; History and Theology of Revival.

    Today, this is from the Gospel Coalition’s site. It’s well timed, is it not?

    Comments are from Ray Ortland on the enduring relevance today of Richard Lovelace’ book, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, starting below from “Highlight: ……

    This is the link which contains Keller’s and Powlison’s comments on the book as well, the full blog..

    https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/evangelical-history/2016/09/13/a-classic-book-on-an-evangelical-history-and-theology-of-renewal/

    Highly pertinent on the topic of history and theology of revival:

    Highlight:
    “The leaders and shapers of the Reformation, the Puritan and Pietist movements, and the first two awakenings, included trained theologians who combined spiritual urgency with profound learning, men who had mastered the culture of their time and were in command of the instruments needed to destroy its idols and subdue its innovations” (page 49).

    Chapter 2: Biblical Models of Cyclical and Continuous Renewal

    Lovelace notes the cyclical history of Israel rising and declining in the Old Testament, compared with the continuous renewal of the church in the book of Acts. But why, as New Covenant people today, do we seem to resemble the unstable patterns of the Old Covenant people of God? Is there a theologically responsible, non-mechanistic way to structure our pursuit of gospel spirituality today so as to press more fruitfully into our union with Christ? This brief chapter sets up Lovelace’s following proposals.

    Chapter 3: Preconditions of Continuous Renewal

    There are two essentials in a church environment for renewal to get traction: (1) clarity about who God really is, and (2) clarity about who we really are.
    Highlights:
    “What men wake up to in the light of a revival is their own condition and the nature of the true God” (page 82). “Many American congregations were in effect paying their ministers to protect them from the real God” (page 84). “The apprehension of God’s presence is the ultimate core of genuine Christian experience” (page 85).
    “. . . even [man’s] virtues are organized as weapons against the rule of God” (page 86).
    “Luther was right: the root behind all other manifestations of sin is compulsive unbelief” (page 90).
    “Modern man is not immune to the impact of traditional Christian terminology; he is simply inert in the presence of answers to questions he has not yet been induced to ask” (page 92).

    Chapter 4: Primary Elements of Continuous Renewal: Depth Penetration of the Gospel

    Our union with Christ brings to us powers for renewal through (1) justification, (2) sanctification, (3) the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and (4) authority in spiritual conflict. Lovelace is brilliant, in my opinion, in his fresh articulation of the reviving powers we can experience as the gospel is pressed into us deeply and regularly.
    Highlights:
    “In order for a pure and lasting work of spiritual renewal to take place within the church, multitudes within it must be led to build their lives on this foundation [i.e., acceptance in Christ alone, apart from our performance]” (pages 101-102).
    “The Protestant disease of cheap grace can produce some of the most selfish and contentious leaders and lay people on earth, more difficult to bear in a state of grace than they would be in a state of nature” (pages 103-104).
    “Luther too recognized its validity [i.e., Roman Catholic awareness of Satan] and conceived of his work as an assault against the entrenched powers of hell within the church.” “It takes time, and the penetration of truth, to make a mature saint” (page 143).

    Chapter 5: Secondary Elements in Renewal: Outworking of the Gospel in the Church’s Life

    The great and primary powers of the gospel prove themselves in a church’s experience through (1) orientation toward mission, (2) dependent prayer, (3) believers in community, (4) theological integration and (5) disenculturation. By “disenculturation,” Lovelace means the objectivity that can disentangle the essential realities of Christianity from the particular cultural forms it takes in one’s own church. With this more mature outlook, we are freer to spread the gospel in its purity and power – uncomplicated, simple, rust-free.
    Highlights:
    “Converts are won more by the observable blessedness of a whole way of life than by the arguments of individuals” (page 148).
    “Our fallen nature is actually allergic to God and never wants to get too close to him. Thus our fallen nature constantly pulls us away from prayer” (page 155).
    “As pain tells us of the need for healing, worry tells us of the need for prayer” (page 160).
    “In our quest for the fullness of the Spirit, we have sometimes forgotten that a Spirit-filled intelligence is one of the powerful weapons for pulling down satanic strongholds” (page 183).
    “When men’s hearts are not full of God, they become full of the world around like a sponge full of clear water that has been squeezed empty and thrown into a mud puddle” (page 184).
    Richard Lovelace’s Dynamics of Spiritual Life offers clear convictions and compelling priorities to shape our churches for revival in our time. I know of no other work with such potential impact.

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