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Iona’s Famous Preacher

posted by Scot McKnight

Iona.jpg The (re)founder of the Iona Community was George Macleod, and I recently read a splendid biography of him (George MacLeod: Founder of the Iona Community – A Biography
). 

So inspired was I by his story, a story of someone who battled and battled and got things done but never got as much done as he’d have liked, a story of someone who worked to combine a genuine spiritual salvation with a social redemption, and someone who was known in his day as a great preacher … so inspired was I that I dug around in used bookstores to find some of his books. One of which is Speaking the Truth – in Love. The Modern Preacher’s Task.
, a collection of Cambridge lectures on preaching.

The essence of the first lecture was what he has learned from the history of preaching The Word, and that The Word, to be preached well, must be both “reflected and refracted.” This is what might be called his incarnational principle of preaching: “perfect faithfulness to the eternal Word yet utmost sympathy for His own dear friends were welded in a unity” (27).
For Macleod good preaching is the combination of the eternal Word with the temporal condition of one’s audience: the Eternal meeting the Temporal. He illustrates this by appealing to the atonement, and how each theory was shaped by and a response to the conditions of that day.


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James Petticrew

posted February 17, 2010 at 5:34 am


Macleod was the towering figure of Scottish Christianity in the 20th century. His ministry in Govan one of the toughest working class areas of Glasgow is still an example of incarnational ministry. He took unemployed hard who were as hard as nails ship builders and middle class folk together to Iona to rebuild Iona Abbey. Govan was known as “Red Clydeside” because of the power of the communists in this era who were agitating for Russian style revolution and almost succeeded when tanks and troops were sent to Glasgow.
I am sure that Macleod’s ministry of reconciliation and his preaching which made sense to both accountants and riveters played a big part in steering the West of Scotland from violence. He also in the long run changed the Church of Scotland to a more open and tolerant organisation.
I wish this Scottish Presbyterian was as well known as that other Scottish Presbyterian John Knox.
His church Govan Parish Church has one of the oldest Celtic crosses in Scotland inside, well worth a look if you are in Glagow



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Vaughn Treco

posted February 17, 2010 at 9:30 am


“For Macleod good preaching is the combination of the eternal Word with the temporal condition of one’s audience: the Eternal meeting the Temporal. He illustrates this by appealing to the atonement, and how each theory was shaped by and a response to the conditions of that day.” ~ George Macleod
It ought not to surprise us that the homily and its proper home, the Divine Liturgy, should serve one and the same purpose!



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David Mosley

posted February 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm


To be honest, before reading this post, I had never heard of George Macleod. Certainly now, I would like to learn more about him, but the title of this post is what caught my attention. You see, I have done some study in the early period of Iona and its first preacher, Columba. There is a man we don’t talk about nearly enough.



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