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"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matthew 24.35

Looking back, the typical trajectory of a popular writer is that their fame reaches a zenith and then declines into obscurity. Not so with John Buchan. True, he did go out of fashion for a while but never completely. And, in recent years, his appreciation - and to a significant extent - his popularity have revived. Why?

The view of commentator R D Kernohan is that the secret of his enduring relevance is "his Christian testimony in word and life, along with a demonstration of how the power of intellect and reason can be deployed in a life of faith and, with the benefit of grace, even in a culture permeated by non-Christian influences, whether ancient classical or modern agnostic." To which one might add "or post-modern pluralism."

It is also the case that Buchan possessed something of a "Midas touch", illuminating wherever he got involved with some other aspect of his wealth of ability and experience. So, for example, his skills as a thriller writer enriched his historical biographies with passion and empathy and his overseas experience in South Africa, Europe and Canada rounded out his political judgment, enabling him to speak with authority on matters such as sovereignty and nationalism.

But always and forever there was his evangelical Christian faith that underpinned and guided what he did and how he developed. He might have said the same thing about the Church, both in Scotland and worldwide. For, while he believed in its divine inspiration, he was also conscious of its human failings and so he also advocated the Presbyterian mantra "reformata semper reformanda" (reformed and always reforming). And does that not reflect the co-operation of justification and sanctification in the lives of those who belong to that "movement", which is too often misrepresented as an "institution"?



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