Rev Iain D Campbell, Free Church minister of Point, Lewis, died on January 28 at the age of 53. It was widely rumoured at the time, and has now been confirmed, that he died as a result of hanging himself. Furthermore, his widow is now reported to have raised allegations of immorality regarding her late husband and other women.
If it were simply a case of alleged immorality, the matter would be best left to the Church courts, but the suicide of someone who professed to be a converted Christian for 40 years, and who was a prominent minister of the gospel on the more conservative side of the present Free Church, is a matter of spiritual concern to the whole Church and nation. Particularly, it is a loud voice to the people of Lewis and elsewhere to give careful consideration to their own spiritual state before the Lord.
There will be some – probably many – who will turn the event to their own destruction. They will persuade themselves that it confirms what they already believed or hoped to be true: that Christians are merely sanctimonious hypocrites, and that Christianity is false. It is evident that the truth of Christianity does not depend on the conduct of any single professing Christian but on the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection; yet such people ignore this fact. This solemn event is, in their case, a further aspect of the Divine displeasure towards our nation, which has resulted in virtually whole generations of our fellow countrymen going down to hell in unbelief.
Others, however, may ask themselves what the Lord is saying to them by this extraordinary providence. Whatever the reason for the suicide was, we do not wish to end our lives in the same way. We are being taught that a long profession of faith, and apparent employment in Christ’s service, are no perfect security against our laying violent hands on ourselves. Those directly involved will have to investigate the circumstances of Mr Campbell’s life and death, but the rest of us have to do with our own souls; and we should be looking to our own faith and asking whether it is genuine; to our sins and asking whether they have been blotted out in the blood of Christ; to our fruitfulness and asking whether we are living to Christ’s glory; to our self-denial and asking whether we are taking up the cross and going after Him; to our spiritual-mindedness and asking whether we have joy in the Holy Ghost; to our mortification and asking whether the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world; to our prayerfulness and asking whether we are praying without ceasing; to our watchfulness and asking whether we are resisting the devil; and to our love and asking whether it is shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost given unto us.
There has been far too little self-examination in Scottish Christianity in the last 50 years. This sad death is a commanding voice to us from heaven. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12).
Rev Douglas W B Somerset
[From Free Presbyterian Magazine, April 2017]