|Moderator of the General Assembly|
|Church||Church of Scotland|
|In office||1988 to 1989|
James Aitken Whyte
28 January 1920
|Died||17 June 2005 85)(aged|
James Aitken Whyte (28 January 1920 – 17 June 2005) was a Scottish theologian, presbyterian minister, and academic. He served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1988 to 1989.
James Whyte was the second son of Andrew Whyte, a provision merchant in Leith, and his wife Barbaro Janet Pitillo Aitken.  He was brought up in Edinburgh, attended Melville College and studied philosophy (he was awarded a First class honours MA degree in 1942) and divinity at the University of Edinburgh. 
After his ordination in 1945 he spent three years as a chaplain to the first battalion of the Scots Guards, and then served as a parish minister at Dunollie Road Church in Oban (inducted 1948) and Mayfield North in Edinburgh (1954). In 1958 he was appointed Professor of Practical theology and Christian ethics at St Mary's College, the divinity faculty of the University of St Andrews and was Principal of St Mary's 1978–1982. His academic work focused mainly on the study of pastoral theology, liturgy and ecclesiastical architecture. He served as convenor of the General Assembly's Inter-Church Relations Committee. After his retirement from the University in 1987, he became Associate Minister of Hope Park, St Andrews. He was moderator of the 1988 General Assembly. In 1942 Whyte married his first wife Elisabeth Mill  who died during his moderatorial year of 1988. He was survived by his second wife, primary school teacher Ishbel (née MacAuley) and his daughter and two sons from his first marriage.
James Whyte was an influential figure in the Church and in Scottish life, largely because of his reputation as a pastor. Four events brought him to the centre of public attention.
During his time as Principal of St Mary's it came to light that one of his students had previously served a sentence for murder. There followed a public controversy about whether this man could become a minister of the Church. Whyte argued on the basis of the Christian doctrine of forgiveness and persuaded the General Assembly not to block the ordination. 
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was invited to address the 1988 General Assembly and gave the speech which the press dubbed the Sermon on the Mound, which attempted to suggest a theological basis for her style of capitalism. As Moderator, Whyte responded by presenting her with church reports on housing and poverty. He professed himself astonished at the public controversy which this relatively restrained censure unleashed. In his speech to the General Assembly the following year he recalled (referring to the Conservative baron Sir Nicholas Fairbairn): "one knight-errant looking for a windmill to tilt at even described me as 'Satanic' !"
As Moderator, Whyte was called on to preach at the memorial service for the victims of the Lockerbie disaster on 4 January 1989. This sermon was widely cited in the press and had a great impact:
The full text of this sermon was published in Laughter and Tears pp 92–5.
After the Dunblane Massacre in 1996 the families of the victims requested that Whyte conduct the memorial service on 9 October that year. The text of the sermon he preached on this occasion appears in The Dream and the Grace pp 125–9.
Whyte was renowned for his witty comments on Scottish public life. When the Conservative government privatised the Trustee Savings Bank in 1985 he wrote a three-sentence letter to The Scotsman : "Bankrobbery is the word we use to describe the crime of stealing from a bank. But what word can we use to describe the crime of stealing a bank? Words cannot describe the crimes of government!"
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