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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: The National Mission

Looking Back

Friday March 25 2022

Looking Back: The National Mission

In early 1919 the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church announced a National Mission, to be held in churches throughout Scotland on April 13, following a six-week preparation period. This article in March 1919 explains what it is about.



A Great National Mission has been approved and recommended by the General Assembly. It may not be without profit to answer some questions that have been in the minds of loyal members of the Church.

Why?-The plea for some definite declaration of the position of Scotland as regards our holy religion rests upon a solid basis.

1. No man or woman would maintain that things were right before the war. There was strife between the classes of society; there was even strife between the sexes. Money and pleasure were given an inordinate place in people’s thoughts. The country was drifting into a crude materialism.
2. There are not many in Scotland who would frankly say that they would be content to have things back as they were before the war. People may have vague enough ideas as to the reforms they want to see in society, but they are convinced that “something ought to be done.”
3. Even the least religious-minded are willing to admit that, if our Lord Jesus Christ had been followed by nations and individuals, the war could not have happened.
4. The same observers would not deny that, if Christianity were given a chance, a notable revolution would ensue, and a sweeter world rise on the ruins of the old.

When there is such a measure of unanimity, the question must inevitably be asked, Why should not Scotland make such an experiment in practical Christianity? Why not, in short, re-dedicate the land to Christ?

When?-The purpose of holding a National Mission has been frustrated time after time. People see now that the delay has not been a misfortune. A similar effort in England was premature; it was followed by much blessing, but it was held too soon. Yet it is equally possible to be too late. Already people are emerging from the shadow of the war. There are signs already that its horrors and fears are becoming memories so unpleasant that men want to escape from them. Those who know their kind best would regret if the effort to seize and perpetuate the lessons of the war were over-long delayed. The answer to the question, When should a National Mission be held? must be, It should be held NOW.

Where?-The Mission must be national. Every parish must be reached by it. The minister or kirk-session, the Christian man or woman, who stands aloof from it will incur a grievous responsibility. The Mission is begun by the two great organs of Scottish religious life, the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church. It is the first time in which these Churches have had an opportunity to demonstrate before the people their essential unity. Any scheme of incorporating union that may some day be successfully carried through is of less value than the complete co-operation of these Churches in this great spiritual effort. The field is the whole of Scotland – its remotest strath, its bleakest island, its most palatial country house, its foulest slum. Everywhere over the land, this special call of Christ to His people must be proclaimed.

How?- There is a just impatience against organised spirituality or “worked-up” emotion. If Christ’s call cannot be heard unless brass bands blare it out, many unpretentious people would be willing to do without a Mission. The voice of the Spirit of God sounding over the vasty void of ruined civilisation needs no reinforcement of windy rhetoric, no sensationalism or blatant noise. On the other hand there may be an impatience of organised effort that is merely foolist. The National Mission asks for business methods. It will gain respect as it is to be seen to be free from haphazard. We are dealing directly with Christ Jesus and His right to reign over all hearts and all lands in every concern of life. That one essential truth must be the heart of the Mission's message. If the question be asked, How is the Mission to reach the people? the answer is, By proclaiming as the one effectual truth the Person and the Power of Christ.

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