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Holyrood's recognition of Christian theologians is welcome

Michael Veitch

John Knox

Since returning to work after the winter break, MSPs from across the political spectrum have commenced the new year by supporting two separate parliamentary motions acknowledging the national influence of two pivotal figures in Scottish church history.

In early January, Murdo Fraser MSP (Conservative, Mid Scotland & Fife) lodged a motion marking the 450th anniversary of the death of John Knox, undoubtedly the key figure used of God to return church and nation to the word of God in the sixteenth century.

As the motion states: “John Knox is regarded as the founding father of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland; further understands that he co-authored The Scots Confession of 1560, considered to be a concise statement of Christian doctrine, which was ratified in the Scottish Parliament in that same year, and acknowledges what it believes is the ongoing national and global influence of Knox in promoting the cause and message of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ to this day.”

This was followed by another motion in the name of Paul McLennan (SNP, East Lothian) noting the local connection with the famed pastor and theologian, John Brown of Haddington, who was born three hundred years ago this year. As the motion explains, Brown is principally associated with Haddington in East Lothian, where he laboured as a minister for several decades until his death in 1787 and where his house still stands.

It further notes that Brown’s most famous work, The Self-interpreting Bible (‘Brown’s Bible’), was widely owned and read by households across Scotland and influenced the philosopher David Hume, who is reputed to have said Brown preached ‘as though Christ were at his elbow'.

The motion also welcomes the fact that the Scottish Parliament possesses a copy of ‘Brown’s Bible’ in the Donald Dewar library, and acknowledges what it sees as the wide influence of John Brown of Haddington upon theological discourse, and the cause of the Christian religion in Scotland and beyond, over the last three centuries.

As another challenging year in Scottish politics commences, with a number of major policy areas on the horizon, it is deeply heartening to see MSPs from across the political parties explicitly acknowledging and celebrating the Christian heritage and influence in our land.

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