Andrew Murray (not that one!) has written a book on Thomas Guthrie. You may remember that Guthrie’s “Ragged Schools” featured in last year’s conference, in David Robertson’s talk on Education and the Poor. Here is what Andrew says about his book:
‘A Mission of Mercy’ came out of a frustration that much of the Christian church seems to see view community engagement and the practical outworking of love with deep suspicion. Many Christians believe that anything beyond preaching and direct evangelism is a watering down of the gospel. This isn’t what Dr Thomas Guthrie (1803 – 1873) believed. He didn’t compromise on truth. He preached a full gospel without apology. But he believed passionately that the Christian church needs to reach out in word and deed. The fact that thousands of little children (‘Arabs of the street’) were wandering around Edinburgh in the 1840’s was a scandal to Guthrie and his Christian theology propelled him into action. The establishment of Ragged Schools were not a distraction but rather an extension of his Christianity. Guthrie become the leader of a great movement of Christian social philanthropy across Scotland and indeed many other parts of the world. His statue in Princes Street stands a memorial to the world that as Christians we too need to be ‘a friend of the poor and the oppressed’. Guthrie was in many ways the last of the great ‘polymaths’ of the 19th Century; he was a preacher, a writer, a social reformer, a campaigner and an innovative pastor. It is hard for many of us in the church today to full comprehend the influence he had on 19th Century Scotland. He, and others like him, created a more compassionate and caring society. We owe much to his legacy and have much to learn from his example.