The Free Church Moderator this week carved a niche in church history and paved the way for further inter-denominational cooperation, when he addressed members of Inverness Church of Scotland Presbytery at their monthly meeting.
Appealing to Christians to demonstrate their faith by action and good works, the Rev Dr John Ross also called for a return to basic Christian principles.
He told his audience: “It’s my prayerful hope that together we will explore ways of serving the community of Inverness with a compassion borne of Christian conviction, and thus pave the way for reuniting the fragmented Church in Scotland.”
Presbytery Moderator Willie Weatherspoon and clerk the Rev Alastair Younger said they had no knowledge of any previous visit of a Free Church moderator to the presbytery.
Mr Weatherspoon described Dr Ross’s visit as “a very special evening”.
Dr Ross, who has been minister of Greyfriars Stratherrick Free Church, Inverness, for the past eight years, quoted former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd’s description of Britain’s role in the world, when he said the UK was “punching above its weight”, with regard to its international influence.
“If Scotland’s Christians, though a mere 10% of the population, are to have an appreciable impact on the life of our nation, they too will have to learn to punch above their weight,” stated Dr Ross.
He declared the reason why the modern church had lost its voice in the public realm was that it no longer knew what it believed, and therefore its utterances lacked conviction.
“A confident proclamation of the Good News has given way to a tentative soliloquizing and open-ended sharing of insights and perspectives…in general we preach the Gospel as if we were deliverymen and we see too little that Christ did not call us to be messenger boys but ambassadors.
“Our failure to appreciate the honour of our calling, coupled with a fear of being stigmatised as arrogant, has made us timid…if ever there was an age crying out for a confident return to the ringing affirmations of the historic confessions of the Reformed Church, it is, I suggest, our generation.”
Calling for the churches to confess their faith in Christ before an unbelieving world, he added: “I believe the Scottish Church will be able to punch above its weight when it adds to a confessional commitment, a recovery of its credibility as a compassionate church.”
Christ, he recalled, “was moved with pity for human spiritual, emotional and physical distress”.
“In Him, supremely, are the essential attributes for mission – keen observation that sees human need, and holistic compassion that does something about it.”
Later Dr Ross commented: “I think this was a significant event and a very pleasant opportunity to be among fellow Christians.”
• Full story at the Free Church of Scotland.