travelling together

Alan's blog

Honey from the Lion

Does the Bible have anything to say about the Scottish independence debate? Well, it won’t tell you how to vote but, as Doug Gay demonstrates, it has a huge amount to say about nationalism, nationhood, identity and the future shape of politics in Scotland.

I have to confess to being a novice when it comes to the world of political theology. Yes, I recognise the names of Brueggemann, Yoder and Haurewas but that was my limit before reading this Scottish nationalist’s journey of exploring his political understandings in the light of a Reformed, Anabaptist and, at times, Catholic reading of Scripture. 

Father Forgive: Canon Andrew White

Pre-accredited ministers were encouraged to read this book at their latest conference exploring aspects of “shalom.” So I thought I’d better give it a read.

Andrew White, often referred to as the Vicar of Baghdad, unpacks in this book a lifetime of ministry devoted to peacemaking.

Using the Coventry Litany of reconciliation as his starting point, he explores the impact of covetousness, greed, envy, indifference, lust and pride on personal, national and international conflict. This is a section of the book that I will undoubtedly return to again and again. It is full of insight into human nature and for me, raised questions that I found helpful in reflecting on the motivations of both sides of the independence debate in Scotland.

Great Expectations

It’s probably the best question I have been asked this year. It has resulted in a great
deal of self-examination and the process is not over. It is a question of faith and practice. It impacts prayer, vision and the day to day life of every disciple. It hardly
seems a biblical question, maybe one attuned more to business; but the more I consider it, the more biblical it becomes: “What do you expect to happen when you preach, pray, worship, witness..?”
     My fear is that the truthful answer, for me and for many disciples of Christ in Scotland, is “not a lot!”
     I was watching a DVD over the weekend, retelling the lifestory of Billy Graham. He
preached his sermon, then gave his appeal with the words, “God has spoken to thousands
of you... come forward now.” His sense of expectation was clear. He believed that many

The Future of Scotland

On 18 September 2014, you will be asked to vote in a referendum on the question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ There will be many factors that will influence your decision as to whether you vote 'yes' or 'no' in answer to this question.
     The White Paper, “Scotland’s Future”, looks to express the Scottish Government’s view on this issue; and seeks to answer many questions on the topic of independence. The Church is mentioned only a few times in the Paper, mostly with reference to our significant place in Society and the historic place of the Church of Scotland.
     Question 590 asks, “What will be the position of churches and religion in an independent Scotland?”. The answer given is, “We propose no change to the legal status of any religion or of Scotland’s churches.”

The God of Second Chances

At our recent Assembly, David Kerrigan brought this Scripture to our attention:

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, “Here am I, here am I.”
Isaiah 65v1 NIVUK

     It captured my imagination and fired my faith in God’s ability to reach our nation. It reminded me that our Heavenly Father is the God of second chances, the God of forgiveness, the God who offers new hope; he comes to us, graciously demonstrating his love. He is the one who is calling each and every one of us to himself and although many of the people of our nation are not thinking of looking for him, he has not given up on calling out to us.
     This is our true hope for the nation: not that our nation is turning to Christ but that Christ has not stopped turning to our nation.

Forging the Future

There are many biblical pictures that describe the process of discipleship. They vary from the gentle gathering of chicks under a wing, to being broken, melted and then moulded in the strong hands of the potter. There are pictures of refining in the hot heat of the fire, as well as sparks fanned into full flame.

     When we look at the disciple-making processes spoken of in the Scriptures and the circumstances used to shape and form character, we are struck by the challenge, risk and often pain and discomfort that leads to the shaping of a person to be used by God in their own time and place. Paul, in Romans 5, reminds us of this when he writes, “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Letter to Christians in Lebanon and Syria

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Syria and Lebanon,

The Baptist Assembly in Scotland, meeting in Dundee from 25th-27th October, has commissioned me to write to you in order to express our support of you and prayerful concern for all God’s people living in Lebanon and Syria at this time. I would invite you to circulate this letter to other Christians in your land as we seek to be an encouragement to you in the face of current challenges.

Big Hearted


Big Hearted” by Simon Goddard and Chris Duffet

Our Union


It was encouraging and exciting to listen to the Baptist Union of Scotland Council grapple with the issue of what it means to belong to one another. To participate in a 24 hour process of listening, reflecting, challenging and resolving that this is “our” Union, was a great privilege. Many people shared what they believed it meant for them to belong and what they would want others joining our union to participate in years to come as well as listening to scriptural patterns revealed by the New Testament Churches.

Whose feet are in your basin?


One of the earliest Baptist groups found in Scotland from 1765 were known as the Scotch Baptists. Unlike our churches today they regularly practised the Christian tradition of foot washing following Jesus example in John 13 and taking literally v15 “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”