It’s been sad for me to watch the almost unanimous adulation given to the Pope from almost every quarter during his recent visit to the United Kingdom. Even previously Gospel-centered churches have joined the “worship” with hardly a glance back at history.

I was therefore heartened by John Ross’s response to this ecumenical love-in on Reformation 21: Auld Reekie reeks no more (hope that piques your interest!).

Like me, John Ross is a Scot living and working abroad (in his case he serves at Dumisani Theological Institute in South Africa). Like me, he too was saddened by what he saw over the last week from a distance. The radio interview he is referring to in his post was on Radio Scotland’s “Call Kaye” with John Beattie on Thursday 16 September, just after 9am. The caller was the Rev David Robertson (D.R.), minister of St Peter’s Free Church of Scotland, Dundee (previously the pulpit of Robert Murray McCheyne). Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

D.R. ‘I would disagree with the Pope about many things. I would disagree about it being a state visit. I would disagree on  condoms and so on but I would like to welcome him to Scotland …I think the Pope himself is an intelligent, thoughtful man. I think he is right about secularism…. I think most of all the Pope is right about Christ. Owen Dudley Edwards earlier  this morning commented about the Free Church and the Pope’s book on Jesus and I think it is one of the best books on Jesus that I have ever read,  so I would like to welcome him as a religious leader. I would like to welcome him as a fellow Christian. Personally I would love to meet him and to hear him. I feel perfectly free to disagree with many things that he stands for and says but overall  I think it is a good thing that he is here.’

STUDIO PUNDIT  ’Isn’t that amazing John (Beattie)?  That is a Free Church of Scotland minister.  This could not have happened thirty or forty years ago. The Free Church would have come down on him like a ton of bricks. Thank you (David ) for what you said, because this is the voice of reason.’

D. R. ……’The Catholic Church for me as a Protestant,  I have to say this shamefacedly,  are the ones who have stood up the most to  the kind of militant secularism …..I feel perfectly entitled to disagree with the Pope about many things, and there are still plenty people in the Free Church who might even  be horrified at what I am saying,  but I have to look at each thing as we go along.   I have read much of the Pope’s stuff.. .It is very often misrepresented  in the press by people who have never read it, who go for cheap headlines …I think  he is a thoughtful, intelligent man and I think people should show him respect and should listen to what he has to say.. ‘