Posted by George Morrison

Donald McLeod                     Word on the Week                         27th May 2023.

The death of Professor Donald McLeod last Sunday added to the pantheon of Christian exponents who have recently been called to higher service!   ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints’ (Psalm 116 verse 15).

He leaves a legacy of sermon recordings and writings which he sets out with sparkling clarity.   It’s not for nothing that he has been called ‘The People’s Theologian’.   God gave him the ability to make difficult things seem simple, without compromising their profundity.   He will be sadly missed.

He was born in the outer Hebrides on the Isle of Lewis in 1940 into a Christian family and educated in the renowned Nicholson Institute in Stornoway.   He did his theological training in the University of Glasgow.   I remember at the time he completed his doctoral thesis at the Free Church College in Edinburgh, that it was questioned whether there would be scholars qualified to assess his paper!

After serving as Minister in the remote village of Kilmallie near Fort William for eight years, then he was called to the large free Church in Glasgow known in 1972 as Partick Highland.   From there he was appointed professor of systematic theology at the Free Church College in 1978, a position he held for some 33 years.   During that period, he trained virtually all the Ministers in the Free Church!

As happens with people of ability there were those who took issue with him in his desire to modernise the Free Church.   They also took him to court over his conduct with women.   At the end of the lengthy trial the court found that “the women had all lied in the witness box to further the ends of Professor Macleod’s enemies in the Free Church of Scotland.”   This happened in 1996.

In 1999 McLeod became Principal of the Free Church College, a position he held till his retirement in 2010.

His writing was not without humour.   Reminiscing about his origins in the West Highland Free Press he claimed “At birth, the Maker dealt me a real duff hand.   I was born a Gael, a Calvinist and a Wee Free, a crippling triple whammy!   He overcame many challenges to produce great books!

‘Christ Crucified’ published in 2014 deals sublimely with the doctrine of atonement.   To conclude with an example from it of Christ’s substitution on the cross where literally ‘He died for me’.  The work is done.  He did it once for all time (Hebrews 7 verse 27).    Salvation!

Donald McLeod has completed his task and made it easier for us who follow.