Scotland Solas St Peters The Church in Scotland

A New Years Wish List for the Church in Scotland

A New Years Wish List for  the Church in Scotland in 2014


“No greater mischief can happen to a Christian people, than to have God’s word taken from them, or falsified, so that they no longer have it pure and clear.  God grant we and our descendants be not witnesses of such a calamity.”  (Luther – Table Talk).

As I prepare to head for Crieff to hear Don Carson and have fellowship with many different brothers and sisters it seems as though the New Year is as good a time as any to reflect upon the state of the Church in Scotland.  What is God saying to us?  What is happening?  How have things developed over the past months?  What is the ‘trajectory’?

What Happened in 2013?

In a number of articles in 2013 I tried to assess what was happening and look ahead.  I don’t intend to repeat all that was said there – feel free to read them through the links at the end of this article.   The bottom line is that that the ‘trajectory’ that some of us predicted has largely been followed through.  The C of S General Assembly made a fool of itself by proclaiming that it stood for the position that people in same sex relationships could not be ordained as ministers and then in the same breath stating that those who were in same sex relationships could be ordained as ministers.    A few churches left, several ministers have come to the Free Church, and others are in the process of leaving.   There is no sign that 2014 or 2015 will see any kind of reversal of the road the C of S is going.  Another new Presbyterian denomination has been started in Scotland, and the steep decline in C of S membership continues. Another new evangelical grouping within the C of S has been set up, trying to turn back the tide – though whether its purpose is primarily to turn back the tide of apostasy, or turn back the tide of evangelicals leaving, is not as yet clear.  There is an impending crisis in terms of up to one third of ministers retiring and very few young people being called into ministry to replace them (a crisis meeting about this was held earlier in the year in Perth).

Meanwhile as the church in general gaily plays its loony tunes on the decks of the Titanic, the society in which it sails continues to plummet downhill – as the salt stays in the saltshaker and the light is hidden under a bushel. Our New Fundamentalist Atheists have a metanarrative birthed in the tearooms and academic wineries of Oxford and Harvard.  For them life is great, and life is getting better.  Humanity is progressing with just about the only thing holding us back being the virus of religion.  Our secular elites are dominated by either this narrative or just the old fashioned human hubris of ‘course things will get better now we are in charge’.  Where this leads to can be seen in the debacle of Same Sex Marriage that occurred in 2013.  Politicians who ten years ago would never even have thought of SSM suddenly found that all along it had been a life long principle and a fundamental aspect of equality.   Watch for more of the same to come in 2014.

The dumbing down of our political classes and the mild conformist acquiescence of our media went hand in hand with a growing economic inequality and a moral and social confusion.  Instead of the church as a whole seeking to be salt and light, she played along with the rather pathetic view that she was some kind of essential force in the corridors of power.  Claiming to be radical and using all the buzzwords of the zeitgeist, she has been weak, pathetic and incredibly conformist.

But there have been signs of life.  There has been a shaking up and realignment.  To some extent we are waiting to see what the picture will be like when the dust settles, but one thing is for sure – those who are hoping to go back to the ‘glory’ days of the 1950’s, can forget it.   I am certain that the shaking up that is going on in both church and society in Scotland provides us with new opportunities as well as threats.

Where are we going in 2014?

Because I believe that the story of the Church in Scotland in 2014 will largely be the same as that of 2013, we need to take a look at what is happening in the Church of Scotland- although I should point out that the story is moving on much more rapidly than most people think and the importance of that particular story will fade.   I write as a friend and brother of my fellow Christians in the Church of Scotland and as someone whose passion and desire is to see the whole Church grow and extend in Scotland.  Nothing would please me more than to see a revival and renewal of biblical Christianity in what remains of the once national Kirk.

Are we for Real?

I need to return to the question of unreality and to asking the question what are we really about?   In the November edition of Evangelicals Now in 2012, Norry MacIver of Forward Together gave the rational for staying within the Church of Scotland.  It is a well-put case but sadly suffers from the unreality that seems to be endemic within the Church.    At this point I should declare that I support Forward Together and I hope and pray that they will be successful. However looking back on Norrie’s article over a year later, helps us to see why that is not going to happen, at least not without a change of mentality and action.

The State Church that reaches parts others cannot reach?

He declares – “We are the state church with our on-going commitment to provide the ordinances of the Christian religion to every part of the nation”.  But this fails to recognise that the reality of the ‘state church’ has long gone.  And if ‘providing the ordinances of the Christian religion to every part of the nation’ is the raison d’etre of the Church of Scotland then it has failed spectacularly.   There are many parishes within the Church of Scotland where the Good News is not preached, in many it is in effect denied.  One of the worst things you could ask a non-believer to do would be to go to a church where the Gospel is not preached.   In my own city I could take you to churches where it is taught that the Bible is not the Word of God, that the atonement is barbaric and that Jesus did not literally rise from the dead.  What is sometimes just as bad is not so much what is said, but what is not said.  The spineless liberals who keep quiet about what they really believe and instead deal in truisms and meaningless platitudes.

Many people do not have access to the Gospel because either the churches or the ministers are spiritually dead.  When I became a Christian most of my friends thought they would go along to church just to see what it was all about.  Most went to the church their parents were at least nominally affiliated.  Those who went to evangelical churches in general became Christians; those who went to self-styled ‘liberal’ (although I prefer the word ‘poisonous’) were put off Christianity for life.   Providing baptism, communion and a smattering of lightly frothed public worship, combined with deistic legalistic moralism is not bringing Christianity to every part of the nation.    The view that the Church of Scotland reaches parts that other churches do not or cannot reach is an illusion.

What amazes me is how many evangelicals still buy into this ‘only show in town’ narrative.   In my experience these tend to be older men who have grown up with the idea that the best hope for the Gospel in Scotland is a renewed Church of Scotland.   I think of one elder who told me that his minister gave him a row for praying in public for someone who was not ‘one of us’ – meaning not an evangelical within the C of S.   If you have held this mentality all your life, and believe it was the only way to go, it is hard to admit that it has not worked.    Which is why some evangelicals who are continuing within the Church of Scotland are supportive of those within the establishment who are playing hardball with those who leave.  They hide behind legalise and many fine sounding words, but the bottom line is that there is an anti-gospel viciousness and pride within the establishment which evangelicals should be protesting against, not going along with.  Here are a couple of examples.


If the Church of Scotland were really concerned about the ordinances of the Gospel being provided within every parish in Scotland – why hinder those who are seeking to do precisely that?   There was an interesting couple of articles towards the end of the year in The Herald, pointing out that the Rev Ian Watson of Kirkmuirhill had failed to get a sufficient majority to leave and take the buildings.  The newspaper reported that 114 of the churches 282 members wanted to leave, and 104 wanted to stay.  This was a vote carried out not by the local Kirk Session but by the Presbytery – doubtless including the many ‘members’ who never attend church, and who have no real interest in the church.  What struck me was that the Herald had the figures and the story so quickly.  Forgive me for being cynical but I suspect that the C of S leaked this and were indulging in what has become a pretty nasty game of politics and spin.  Why could the C of S not have said, we have plenty half-empty churches in the area, lets give this one to the Kirkmuirhill congregation and those who want to stay in the C of S can go elsewhere?  They will probably end up linking them anyway.  But no – this is about territory, money, image, preserving the institution and revenge.   It has nothing to do with the gospel. Lets not pretend otherwise.

St Andrews-

Or take St Andrews.  Ten years ago when we started the Free Church there we were using Martyrs Church of Scotland (a former Free Church).  The then minister of the parish church told me that when she left, the congregation would be finished and that the future was with us.  And so it turned out to be.  As the Free Church has grown and the C of S in St Andrews has declined it became apparent that we needed more space and they had too many buildings.  The Baptists also had the problem of not having enough space.  Anyone with any interest in the Gospel can see that there is an obvious solution.  The C of S should have sold Martyrs to the Free Church or the Baptists, so that a gospel witness could continue there.  But no.  It is apparently to be sold to the University to be turned into a library.  Now I kind of expect that from the liberal establishment but what is profoundly depressing is that evangelicals seem to be supporting this and going along with it.   I have heard several men say ‘but its charities law you see.  They have to get the best price possible or they would be breaking the law.’  I consulted a charities lawyer about this and she said it was complete rubbish.  All the Trustees of the charity have to do is ensure that the purposes of the charity are being met – not get the maximum amount of money they can.  My understanding is that the purpose of the Church of Scotland is not to make money or maintain a property portfolio!   Sadly some would rather a secular institution take over a church, than a ‘rival’ church flourish there.  Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

The Tron –

One other example – The Tron.  Because I love the Tron and even more the cause of the Gospel in the great city of Glasgow I have been really interested in this and wrote several updates and analysis on what was going on.

But where are we now?  Having expelled the existing congregation and seeking to start up a new ‘evangelical’ congregation, what has happened?  One of the saddest things for me has been travelling through Glasgow, going out of Queen St and walking past an empty and largely unused building – with locked doors in the middle of the day.  Where once there had been a thriving biblical witness.  The C of S took a huge financial hit and has now obtained a building that is useless to them because they have no people to fill it.   Glasgow Presbytery statistics show that The (New) Tron has an income of £1,251 for 2012/13.   And they will have very few people.  It is a tragedy that it is the Church that has, in a spirit of delusional pride, cut its own throat.   I once had a friend who bought an old Church of Scotland manse (there are by the way many up for sale and even more churches).  He told me somewhat bemusedly of one condition of the sale – which forbade him from holding a religious service or bible study in the ‘former’ manse.  It’s kind of a parable of how the Church of Scotland (even with all its talk of ecumenicism) brooks no opposition.

The Mission Strategy Committee for the December Glasgow Presbytery pointed out some sobering facts – more than half the congregations in Glasgow have fewer than ten people in the 16-40 age group attending.  Whilst 45% of the population are in that age range, only 13% of those attending church are.   The report states “ The Committee is deeply concerned about this imbalance and is investigating ways of resourcing, inspiring and encouraging individuals and congregations to reach out effectively to younger adults with the Good News of Jesus Christ.” This is great.  But there is a problem – Sally Fulton Foster, who often appears as a C of S spokesperson said on the BBC this year that the message of the C of S was about welfare reform, climate change and nuclear weapons! –   “the only side we are on is the side of the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed – as it always has been”.    Really?  That’s not how the C of S is going to fill churches, its how it is emptying them!  Might I suggest that if you want to be on the side of the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed, you set them free by telling them about Jesus?!    Once people know who Jesus is and what he has done, that is what resources, inspires and encourages.    Confuse that.  Confuse people about the Word of God.  And you will end up with empty churches.

This is not a new problem.  Robert Murray McCheyne wrote this of the Church of Scotland in his day – It is confessed that many of our ministers do not preach the gospel –alas! Because they know it not. Yet they have complete control over their pulpits, and may never suffer the truth to be heard there during their whole incumbency. And yet our church consigns these parishes to their tender mercies for perhaps fifty years without a sigh! Should not certain men be ordained as evangelists, with full power to preach in every pulpit of their district – faithful, judicious, lively preachers, who may go from parish to parish, and thus carry life into many a dead corner?” 

Denying the Word of God or just encouraging a more liberal attitude?

Moving on – Norry then states that the Church of Scotland “is not  formally denying the authority of the Word of God, but rather that some with influence, are encouraging a more liberal attitude to Scripture, not least on issues of morality”.    This sounds nice but when a church declares that it knows better than the bible then yes it is formally denying the authority of the Word of God.  To pick and choose from the Bible and leave its interpretation entirely up to whoever happens to be voting at a General Assembly is to raise the Assembly above the Word of God.  I was horrified to hear at the Assembly in 2009 and 2011 outright mockery of the Bible.  It is unrealistic to deny that the Church of Scotland assembly has flatly contradicted the Word of God.

The Vast Majority of Ministers, Members and Elders are committed to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus?

The third unreality comes in the statement that “the vast majority of ministers, elders and members of our Church, and that includes most Bible-believing evangelicals, are committed to seeing the renewing of our denomination and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus in our nation and beyond.” I so so want that to be true.  But how can it be?  Does it include the two thirds of ministers who do not even profess to be evangelical?  The 200,000 members who rarely if ever attend church or read the bible?  Are they all committed to spreading the Gospel?  Nothing illustrates the fantastical attitude of so many evangelicals sleep walking through disaster.    I was once involved in a joint committee with some from the Church of Scotland seeking to look at ways of working together.  We all agreed that we were committed to spreading the Gospel.  The trouble is we got nowhere because we could not agree what the Gospel was.  The evangelicals in the C of S knew.  We knew.  But the others did not.   And yet here is the director of Forward Together basing his policy on the illusion that the vast majority are committed to the Gospel of Jesus.  That too is unreal.

One More Push?

The fourth unreality is what I call the one more push and we are there’ mentality.  Norry argues that “as we have seen our Lord increasingly bless evangelical ministries over recent years, now is not the time to leave.”   As I have said before, I think there are good reasons to stay within the Church of Scotland, but this is not one of them.  The evangelical movement in the C of S has been largely stale for at least two decades.  There were great advances in the post war decades but the last two decades of the 20th Century and the first of the 21st Century have not seen major advances.  Yes there are now about 400 ministers who would call themselves ‘evangelical’ but the church is not just about congregations.  How many churches are evangelical?  How many elders?  How many congregations are growing, evangelising and planting?  Thankfully there are some, but the number is small.

Influence or Reformation?

The danger also is of a watered down evangelicalism where we are invited to the table, but only on condition that we don’t directly try to change the substance of the menu.  This is reflected in Norry’s comment “prayerfully, but humbly and openly, we will seek to influence for good our internal theological and moral debates.  This is for the health of the nation and ultimately the glory of our Saviour.”  I know this is well meant but it begs the question –  is this what we have been reduced to – seeking to ‘influence’ a liberal establishment within the Church?  Surely the need today is for something far more radical?  Should we be playing politics whilst the people of Scotland are starving from a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord?   Was it said of the early church ‘these are they who have ‘influenced’ internal moral and theological debates?!’  Whatever happened to ‘these are they who have turned the world upside down’?  I am not interested in influencing church establishments, except insofar as it enables us to proclaim the Gospel.   The trouble is that it is precisely this lack of a radical agenda which has neutered the Church and curbed the effectiveness of our proclaiming the Gospel.

All of this is I repeat not to suggest that anyone who stays in the Church of Scotland is spineless, or denying the Gospel.  There are good reasons to stay, not least seeking to care for a particular flock or using it as an opportunity to evangelise.  But if you are going to stay then you really do have to fight – not using the weapons of this world, but rather the Word of God and the divine power that demolishes arguments and takes every thought captive for Christ.

So where do we go from here?  Can I suggest this is a Kairos moment  – a unique gospel opportunity?  It will require all of us, whatever denomination we are in (including those of the non-denominational denominations), to really go for it.  We will need Gospel boldness, genuine repentance, self-forgetfulness, Christian humility and passionate love for Jesus, his people and the people of Scotland.  There is no time for sitting on the fence, compromise, or playing at church or church politics.  We will all have a price to pay.  Christendom has gone.  The 20th Century has gone.  Welcome to a renewed Church in a renewed Scotland.   That at least is the vision.  How do we go about it?  I’m not sure but let me at least suggest some possibilities.

The Church of Scotland

Those evangelicals who remain have to forget about ‘quiet’ infiltration.  Every inch of ground must be fought for and every opportunity taken to proclaim the Gospel within and outwith the church.   If the Church continues its slide then this means you will be kicked out – but by that stage that probably won’t be that great a loss!   Some are determined to stay whatever – but others suspect that the time will come in the not too distant future when they too will leave.  Meanwhile they need to do as much as they can to prepare their congregations, lay the groundwork and make sure any split does as little damage to their own congregations as possible.   The Free Church of Disruption did not happen ‘spontaneously’.  It took the Ten Years Disruption to prepare for it.

The Free Church

I have written many other times about my own denomination.  There are major issues that need to be dealt with.  We have sleepwalked to the edge during the last decades of the 20th Century, and although things seem to have turned around in the first decade of the 21st and are far more encouraging than in any decade in living memory, we are still fragile.     Major problems include public perception of us as primarily if not solely an ethnic Highland church; our financial condition; the fact that at least 40% of our congregations are not really viable as independent congregations; the cost of the college and there is still the embattled ‘wee free’ mentality.  And yet there have been some real green shoot signs – more than just a couple of congregations bucking the trend.   There are a significant number of growing congregations; the change of position on worship was carried out without a split and has been generally implemented sensibly; the quality of some of our ministers is improving; a number of churches are carrying out innovative and encouraging projects with youth and community workers becoming part of congregational teams; and there is a good team at the Free Church offices, including the wonderful work done by Neil Macmillan.  Perhaps most encouragingly has been the beginning of change and development in the Free Church College.  If I was writing this a year ago we would be talking about zero Free Church students, enormous costs and the possibility of closure.  12 months on that has changed.  The College is about to become Edinburgh Theological Seminary, new students are coming and it is beginning to hint that it might fulfil its potential as the leading centre in Scotland for theological education.   Whilst this is not THE answer to Scotland’s problems I believe that the Free Church may be a key part of the renewal of the Church in Scotland – but we too really have to go for it.


Other Presbyterians I really know very little about the United Free Church so can say nothing – except that it too is declining.  The others (Free Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, APC and the Free Church Continuing) are so tiny that there is little they can do.   Only a handful of congregations are viable and again we must do what we can to help the likes of John Ferguson in the APC in Inverness).   It is possible that they might all get together under the leadership of Kenny Stewart but I doubt it.    Which leaves us with the new kids on the block – the ARP and IPC.  Despite the fine work of Atholl Rennie and Grace Community Church in Leith (which I hope we will support and encourage), the vision of an ARP presbytery with several church plants in Scotland under the auspices of Reformission Scotland is fading.  The wonderful vision of Reformission may be able to continue through different denominations.

The IPC seem to be the default denomination for those C of S evangelicals who can leave with their congregations but cannot stomach the thought of joining the Free Church.  I remain convinced that it is a major mistake to start yet another Presbyterian denomination in Scotland, one which will inevitably be defined by what it is not (we are not the Church of Scotland, we are not Free Church, we are not…), rather than what it is.  But what alternative is there?  Some say they could not join the Free Church because they have women elders (although they would have the same problem with IPC which also does not ordain women elders), because of the perceived Highland ethos, because their congregations would not stomach it, and because denominations don’t matter anyway.  If the latter is the case then why start another one?  The Highland ethos is a false perception (unless you are in the Highlands).  Congregations need to be educated – and this needs real relationships, not perceptions, bad history and even worse folk memories.   The woman elders is a real problem, although it does depend on what you mean by elders.  In addition there is a danger of being seen to have left a denomination because it ignores the Word of God on the question of homosexuality but then turning a blind eye to what it says about male eldership in the church, thus leaving one open to the charge of inconsistency.   But let me suggest that the best thing to do, rather than start another new denomination, would be to have independent congregations that seek to have meaningful relationships with other denominations with the eventual aim of joining together.  To suggest that you first form a new denomination then as a group join up with others is, in the light of Scottish history (and the reason for forming a new denomination in the first place) a forlorn hope.  If such a union were to occur it would result in three new denominations not one.  For example if the IPC and Free Church were to join you would end up with the joint church plus the IPC Continuing, and the Free Church not quite Continuing!

But let us not stick with the quarrelling sub tribes of Judah – what about the other tribes of Israel?  Any vision for Christian unity has to include all of the Lord’s people.  It is too much to hope, John Owen like, for a national state church incorporating all the Trinitarian Christian churches, but we must at least seek to co-operate.

The Charismatics

Defining and uniting charismatics is as difficult as defining and uniting Presbyterians –it is like herding cats.  The charismatic movement has not made anything like the inroads that networks like Vineyard, New Wine and New Frontiers have made in the South East of England.  The charismatic movement in the Church of Scotland is a fraction of what it was and still is in the Church of England.  Nonetheless there have been some significant movements, along with the usual excesses, heavy shepherding and rather silly and exploitative theology.   CLAN has been perceived as the primary vehicle for the charismatic movement but it has peaked at 4-5,000 and in order to grow beyond that (which it needs to do in order to survive) it needs to move outwith that limited constituency.  CLAN 2012 was cancelled and for the foreseeable future it looks as though it will be a series of nationwide events, rather than a week long residential. We will see how it all pans out.

Independent Evangelicals –Banchory evangelical church, Harper Memorial, Deeside Christian Fellowship, are examples of churches which have come from a variety of backgrounds (often ex-Brethren, charismatic) and who are growing. It is estimated that the number of Independents will rise to around 50,000 in 2015.  It looks as though, with the encouragement of Paul Rees of Charlotte Chapel and other similar minded brothers and sisters, FIEC in Scotland could be rejuvenated.

BaptistsThe Baptists have been around in Scottish church history for as long as the Free Church. Their numbers are fairly static at around 20,000 (the Baptist Union would claim to be about the same size as the Free Church at 12,000).  Again most major Scottish towns and cities have at least one significant and influential Baptist church.  Morningside Baptist has just morphed into Central Baptist in Edinburgh, Charlotte Chapel is just about to take over the old St Georges West Church of Scotland (the birthplace of the Free Church) and others such as Central Baptist in Dundee are bursting at the seams.  I was at the Baptist Assembly last year where Central Dundee’s church plant in Carnoustie was welcomed into the Baptist Union as a newly constituted church (along with three others).

AnglicansAlthough there is nothing like the influence of evangelical Anglicans in England, there are important and influential Anglican churches in Scotland.  St Silas in Glasgow and St P’s and G’s in Edinburgh, being just two.

Roman Catholics There are those who would be surprised and horrified that I would include the Roman Catholics in this list.  I again take comfort from the worlds of McCheyne, that he would rather have pastor Martin Boos preach in his pulpit even though he was a Catholic, than ‘some frigid evangelical from our own church’; and from something that the late great Professor Finlayson once said in the Free Church College – that he would not be surprised if the Lord in his sovereignty was to use people in the Roman Catholic church to bring revival to Scotland.  The Roman Catholics have the enormous advantage of having their own schools and it may be that a renewal of biblical preaching and teaching might occur amongst them – though one suspects that if it does then the old wine will not be able to contain the new wineskins.  On the other hand it may be that the sexual abuse scandals will do far greater damage to the Catholic Church and that many disillusioned Catholic believers will find themselves a refuge in another church.

 Something New And God could do something completely different.  Every now and then someone comes along and pronounces ‘this is a new thing that God is doing’ and of course it starts with a bang and fades in a whimper.  I suspect that if God is doing a new thing then we will see it before He announces it.  Mez McConnell 20 schemes is one example.   I continued to be encouraged by the work of interdenominational groups like SU, Bethany, Tear Fund, UCCF and of course Solas CPC.  Although I am somewhat less encouraged by the observation that the less Christians we have, the more Christian organisations and ministries we seem to have!

Who Knows What God will do?

It is a wonderful thing being a practical biblical Calvinist, one’s theology does not, or at least should not, allow us to constrain or limit God.  We are to proclaim the Word and stand back in awe as the Holy Spirit ensures that it does not return empty.  In my life I have been surprised by grace and joy from many different sources – Free Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Anglicans, Charismatics, Brethren, Pentecostals, Church of Scotland and Free Church.  I hope in 2014 to experience and see more of the same.

I leave you with my personal hopes for the Church in Scotland (and St Peters) in 2014.  I pray-

1)   That there will be many new and renewed biblical churches proclaiming and living the Word to the people of Scotland.

2)   That there will be fewer denominations as real unity becomes the order of the day.

3)   That there will be a renewal and revival in the Church of Scotland.

4)   That there will be fewer middle class ‘professional’ evangelical churches in city centres and prosperous suburbs.  Because several will unite into bigger churches so that they can avoid duplication of resources and use the saved money and people to church plant and evangelise in areas where the church has long ceased to reach.

5)   That St Peters will continue to grow and develop and that we will be able to plant new churches and have a new Tayside Free Church Presbytery.

6)   That Sinclair Ferguson will continue to encourage us from Gods Word throughout the year.

7)   That Solas will continue to flourish and see many more churches becoming equipped for persuasive evangelism.

8)   That the Gospel will be proclaimed through the secular media.

9)   That Magnificent Obsession and Why I am not an Atheist will be the bestselling books in 2014 and that many will become followers of Christ because of them.

10)   That this time next year I will be writing about the reformation, revival and renewal of the Church in Scotland!

Happy New Year. One closer to Eternity…..


The following are the articles I referred to earlier.

On May 16th pre General Assemblies I suggested that there might be some hope for the situation changing –

On May 21st – Post Assemblies – I wrote about the suicide note the C of S had written at its Assembly –

On June 20th – I wrote about the new gathering of Evangelicals which met at Perth –

On August 27th – I wrote about Eric Alexander’s call to stay in the Church of Scotland –

On September 24th – I responded to Alistair Morrice’s appeal to evangelicals to ‘be faithful’ and stay in the Church of Scotland –


  1. Can I just say that as an ordinary member of the CoS this is one of the best analyses I have read of where the church in Scotland is today. The leadership of the CoS has been cowardly in the way it has led its flock into the wilderness over the past 30 or so years. You have nailed Dr Sally’s non-Gospel based view of the church’s role and the damage this attitude will inflict on Scotland.

    Interestingly, this article in yesterday’s Guardian, although about the CoE, also says something about Scotland

  2. Thanks,David, for a fair and penetrating analysis ofthe Scottish scene. Reads well south of the border. Many similar concerns inEnglish scene. Thanks also for including Non-presb churches in your scope. @JDSayersMish

  3. Thanks for posting this interesting article. I live and work overseas, so really appreciate your insight into what is going on in the homeland.

    The section about women elders is a little confusing though. It was my understanding that neither IPC or the Free Church permit women to become elders…

      1. My point is that IPC don’t ordain women elders either. The article seems to suggest that they do. Apologies if I’m not reading your meaning right.

      2. I can see how you get that. My understanding is that the IPC don’t ordain women elders either. MY point was more that there are some C of S congregations who want to leave but who have women elders. Where do they go? But I have added a line to ensure that it is not misunderstood…

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