Recently, Reformation Charlotte visited the beautiful country of Scotland along with many others who joined with JeremiahCry Ministries to take the gospel to this once flourishing land. Scotland was once home to one of the most important Protestant reformers in Church history, John Knox.
While this land is replete with historical reminders of the great era of Reformed Christian revivalism, the society has strayed far from its foundation rooted in the Christian faith. The city’s current truncated motto, “Let Glasgow Flourish,” originally read “Lord, let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of thy Word.” The saying is attributed to the city’s patron Roman Catholic saint, St. Mungo, who died in 614. Of course, this was before the Roman Catholic Church was completely apostate, and there were many faithful servants of God who still preached Christ. Sadly, Mungo is now venerated (worshiped) in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church.
John Knox and the Scottish Reformation
John Knox (1513-1572) is the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and was a leader in the Scottish Reformation. Knox returned to Scotland in 1560 from exile in England and traveling to Geneva where he developed his theology as a contemporary of John Calvin to bolster the Scottish Reformation. He is well known for his open-air preaching in the streets of Edinburgh and other cities throughout the country of Scotland and was key in the parliamentary action that outlawed many practices of Roman Catholicism in Scotland, including the Mass while establishing the doctrines, confessions, and bylaws of the newly reformed Presbyterian Church. Knox staunchly opposed Queen Mary’s insistence on participating in the Mass in Scotland, stating to her that he was a subject of the same commonwealth and had a duty to warn of dangers within the same realm. Needless to say, Mary, while sympathetic to some of his protests, disapproved of Knox’s actions and declared him an outlaw. Knox died as a faithful minister in Edinburgh in 1572.
Though Knox himself was not killed, during his lifetime, many Protestants died for their faith–Patrick Hamilton being the first martyr in Scotland during the Reformation. Hamilton was burned at the stake in St. Andrews, ordered by Roman Catholic Archbishop Beaton who charged Hamilton with heresy and the promotion of Protestant doctrine through his writing and preaching. Hamilton’s martyrdom inspired many more to risk their lives for the cause of Christ and the advancement of the biblical gospel of salvation.
Today, in Scotland, the historical biblical faith has nearly disappeared in every area of society. While monuments and churches tower over the cities of this beautiful land as reminders of its history, much of its practice are merely bygones. The streets of Glasgow are replete with hostility towards Christianity. Homosexuality is rampant, freedom of speech is harshly impeded, and secularism has taken over every square inch of the streets. Old church buildings have been turned into bars and nightclubs and schools oppose Christianity and promote, instead, religious Darwinism and secular humanism. In a sense, God has departed this once faithful land.
There is, however, a remnant. During our stay in Scotland, I was able to meet many faithful servants of God–servants who were highly encouraged by our presence in their cities. These few faithful men and women have essentially been silenced by the secular worldview of this land. A land once well-known for its many open-air preachers now views this practice as an anomaly. The practice had largely slipped into the oblivion of history until about a decade ago when Jeff Rose began taking the gospel to the streets in Glasgow. The people were taken aback by this and really did not know what to do, or even what they were seeing. But this wasn’t without good cause–the preaching of God’s word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). Since then, there have been many mission trips to Scotland by JeremiahCry Ministries, and the fruits of these labors are being seen.
While the laws of the land are hostile to open-air preaching (for example, laws have been interpreted by the authorities that speaking against homosexuality or otherwise “offending” people, are crimes and freedom of speech can be impeded) and can be difficult for evangelists to navigate, God’s work is not being thwarted, and His servant’s labors are making an impact. Many of the Scottish locals have been highly encouraged by our presence in their land inspiring them to go out and do the same. The secular worldview is being challenged by the truth–the biblical worldview–and many are responding in faith. Professing atheists are outright admitting that their worldview falls short. We even saw some come to faith right on the spot. Further, even many of the Scottish who would disagree with the messages being preached in their streets are seeing what their society has come to when the secularists would succeed in shutting us down, and many would rise up against the local authorities in our defense, surprised that their freedoms had been so gutted to the core.
In other words, many Scottish people are waking up to the reality of the godlessness that has plagued their land for so long, and, if it is God’s will, this land could most certainly see a revival in the future. All hope is not lost and God is sovereign over all. Please continue to pray for missionaries in this country, and that the local remnant in this land would be encouraged and emboldened to continue the work.
Below are some pictures from our missionary trip to Scotland, July 2-10, 2018, with JeremiahCry Ministries. Please prayerfully consider supporting our growing ministry by donating or making a purchase from our store.