On 16th September 2010 one white haired old man of 83 years, from Germany , brought Edinburgh and Glasgow to a standstill. It was an appalling spectacle to witness the extravagant acclaim and adulation afforded to this godless man, in the historic capital city that was once the heartland of those contending against Roman error. With Scotland celebrating the 450th anniversary of the glorious Reformation his arrival at this time was not a coincidence. If 1560 was 'the greatest year in Scotland ’s history' then 2010 is bound to be one of the darkest this nation has seen. The deeply disturbing presence of Pope Benedict XVI, before a welcoming Protestant Queen in a Protestant country, where multitudes gave their lives in defence of truth and spiritual liberty, bears witness to how far we have fallen as a nation.
Wholly oblivious to Rome ’s claim of papal infallibility, the Pope bewitched everyone who came in contact with him during his visit, from the highest to the lowest. Instead of honouring the Covenanters and martyrs who secured the Reformation, at great cost, Scotland and its leaders paid blasphemous tribute to the vilest man in Christendom “the man of sin and son of perdition.” His own claims, and his swelling self-acclaimed titles…which include Vicar of Jesus Christ, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church , Servant of the Servants of God, Most Holy Father…testify to this. Not only does he ignore the law of Biblical truth he was also allowed to blatantly trample the law of the land under his feet, and get away with it. As he traveled in his armoured, bulletproof glass, popemobile he did so without wearing a seatbelt. Surrounded by heavy security, it’s not as though he did so unnoticed. Any one else, of course, would have been immediately fined.
It was not all bad news. There was also good news, which was shared with countless multitudes from all walks of life, including the many priests, monks and nuns who were present. The importance of God’s presence, power and spirit was the focus at all the prayer meetings in Edinburgh , Glasgow and Inverness , the previous evening, specifically for the witness. It was a real joy to give out some 17,000 items of gospel materials, along with 27 Bibles, to the many thousands who lined the streets of Edinburgh , in the morning, and who congregated at Bellahouston Park , in Glasgow , for the open air mass later that day. The witnessing outreach was supported by a group of zealous Christians, from a variety of evangelical churches. There was a sea of people in both places and it was therefore a wonderful opportunity to reach out to many Roman Catholics, and Protestants alike, with the gospel of God’s saving grace. There were countless conversations with perishing souls, and many interesting contacts made. Amongst the sea of placards, were those which clearly displayed that they were being carried by the faithful: “God save Scotland from popery” and “Exalt Christ not the pope.”
It was a great joy to have an ‘interested’ Roman Catholic man at the prayer meeting in Magdalen Chapel on Wednesday evening. He appeared again on Thursday with the evangelical Christians on Princes Street in Edinburgh , giving out literature. He is fully persuaded that his Catholic convictions are all completely wrong and contrary to the truth of God’s word. He was a wonderful witness in giving out materials and speaking to Roman Catholics about the Biblical truth of God’s Word. One person managed to persuade four priests, representing the Knights of Malta, to accept the booklet “From Tradition to Truth” written by the former Dominican Priest, Mr. Richard Bennett, which they slipped into their long robe pockets. When it was explained to them that the booklet was written by a converted RC priest it seemed to arouse their curiosity.
Contact was also made with Scotland ’s First Minister, Mr. Alex Salmond, and he gladly accepted a number of gospel tracts, which he placed into his pocket. The plea was made with him “Please remember, Mr Salmond, that you have a precious never-dying soul, which is destined for eternity. Do not place you trust in religion, whatever its badges, but rather the religion of the Bible, which is true Christianity. It is not Roman Catholic or Protestant beliefs that will save you but faith in Christ alone for salvation. He alone is the way, the truth and the life – there is no other way to heaven.”
He heard and he listened, before saying “thanks, I will read” as he left. Many other engaging conversations, and deep discussions, were entered into with devout and nominal RC’s. This afforded the opportunity to share the gospel with them and present them with a book “Preparing Catholics for Eternity” also written by a former RC Priest.
In general people were receptive to the literature given out. Many tracts, particularly the titles “What every Catholic Should Know” and “An Urgent Plea to Roman Catholics” were circulated in large quantities. The police were more sticky and difficult in Glasgow and wanted to pen some of the brethren inside the cordoned area by the main entrance. After resistance, and persuasion, they were eventually allowed freedom of movement and continued to witness to the masses without further interruption. The only major “negative” incident was outside one shop, where a person threatened to murder everyone handing out Christian literature and who opposed the Pope’s visit. He was calmly dealt with before quieting down. Reports about the protest and witness, along with an interview, were given to some 20 national daily/weekly newspapers but, sadly, “Good News” never made the headlines.
The Pope as has now left Scotland ’s soil but God’s powerful Word and redeeming grace remains. This Word is also affecting the readers, as the powers of light and darkness war on. God’s powerful word of truth never leaves a sinner as it found them, whatever their religious badge or convictions. This is evident in the telephone calls I received from those who were given the literature. One seriously minded enquirer asked, “What does the righteousness of Christ mean? What does it mean to be an unrighteous person?” After giving the Gospel in response, he said “You have answered my question satisfactorily.” Another lady expressed outrage about the materials that had been handed out. She was literally foaming at the mouth with vehement anger and threatening remarks. Another man was deeply offended. He said “In your pamphlets, you condemn everything that the Roman Catholic Church stands for and you also condemn the Holy Father.” In pointing him to Scriptural truths, and asking him to weigh everything in the light of what the Bible says, he surrendered and said “I will examine the evidence and phone you back in 10 days time.”
The Word that changes hearts, transforms lives and saves souls, has been given to many and now we trust the Lord’s promise in Scripture, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Compared to the countless thousands who followed the “man of sin” in Edinburgh and Glasgow, those who were witnessing for the truth of the gospel were very, very few. The inscription, however, on the Reformation Monument in Geneva reminds us that it is not the “many” God looks at: "One man with God is always in the majority." The Church throughout Scotland indeed needs the spirit of one praying man who changed a nation’s destiny and of whom Mary Queen of Scots is reputed to have said about him: "I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe." In the midst of all that was done in witnessing for truth, we rejoice also that even the very smallest light shines brightly in the dark. In both cities it can be said “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light and those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.
© Donald J Morrison - Coordinator
United Christian Witness (Edinburgh & Glasgow)
Reproduced with permission
29 September 2010