Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Wanderer: Donald Fraser. XII.

Although not one of the great Presbyterian leaders of his age, in English Presbyterianism Donald Fraser was a big fish in a small pond. His involvement in such bodies as the British and Foreign Bible Society and the Evangelical Alliance led to engagements outside the United Kingdom. In 1874 Fraser went back to Montreal again, to the conference of the Evangelical Alliance there. Again he was able to renew old friendships and see what had happened in his old Church.
In 1877 Fraser returned to another former scene of his labours, the nation of Italy. He was sent as part of a delegation from the Evangelical Alliance to visit the Evangelical Churches and Missions of Italy. As had been the case during his short ministry in Italy, Fraser was particularly drawn to those Italian Churches that were presbyterian and Reformed, the Waldensians and the Chiesa Libera (our illustration shows a rural Waldensian 'Temple'). The deputation from the Evangelical Alliance did its best to examine carefully the condition of Italiasn Protestantism, and Fraser was glad to see the Italian protestant community drawing together in mutual Christian love. Fraser hoped that they would be able to work through their differences and, with the possible exception of the Baptists, join into one denomination.
Sad to say, Donald Fraser did not see that the basis of any denominational union scheme must be truth, otherwise it is a union in name only. Only on the basis of the Bible can there be true Christian unity. But Fraser had already adopted unsound views on the eternality of hell, which is only possible by twisting the Bible. We reiterate what we have said elsewhere, we gain no pleasure from the idea of an eternal hell, but our conscience is held captive by the Word of God, and we can believe no otherwise.

His next overseas visit was to the General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance in 1879, at Basle. Though he was called upon to preach in English, his lack of understanding of German made it difficult for him to really enter into the proceedings of the conference - which were held mostly in that tongue. He was fairly skilled in French (no doubt as a result of his ministry in Montreal), and had a tolerable grasp of Italian, but German had not been part of his studies. At least it kept him away from the corrosive effects of German modernistic 'theology'!! The visit to Basle at least gave him an opportunity to take a continental vacation with his wife before he returned to England.

Of which, God willing, we shall see more next time.



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