Satan Attacks the Church of Scotland!
“This statement makes me want to ask a very difficult question – is David Robertson actually a ‘born again’ Christian? After reading that statement about the Church of Scotland I reluctantly have to believe that he is under the control of Satan himself. After all it will always be Satan’s desire that the Church would die.”
I receive many responses to my writings. Some are very appreciative. Some are from people who have been stirred up to action. Some are questioning, angry, dismissive. Some point out the mistakes I make and enable me to correct either wrong information or change my attitude. Some cause me to repent. And some to weep. A few days ago I received the comment above that just made me depressed and stunned me into silence. My instinct was to respond, but I thought the post was so unedifying that to share it would be harmful. However having taken some ‘time for reflection’ I think I will share it with you. Not to enable you to have some voyeuristic pleasure, nor to seek sympathy, but simply to ask for the only worthwhile response possible – prayer.
The remark was posted on the OneKirk FB page by Rev Alan Hamilton-Messer (associate minister at Queensferry and Dalmeny parish church) in response to my writings on the alliance between the Humanist Society and the Church of Scotland.
I have been lying awake trying to make some sense of that remark. I suppose I should be grateful that Mr Hamilton-Messer actually believes in the new birth and Satan! But I am not quite so keen than he pronounces me an unregenerate tool of the devil! In passing let me note that OneKirk not only allowed this ludicrous post to stay on their page (I got up this morning expecting it to have been removed) but it was even ‘liked’ by several of their stalwarts. The irony of liberals complaining that an evangelical is not born again and is controlled by Satan is almost as amusing as it is pathetic!
Alan explains further:
My opinion is that David Robertson fits very well with the Westboro model of evangelicalism rather than mainstream evangelicalism. How else can we excuse a man who is an ordained Minister in the Free Church of Scotland from attacking fellow Christians and actually stating in writing that the Church of Scotland (all 500,000 members and 1200 congregations?} deserve to DIE!
That really is Westboro language.
I am prepared to accept that Mr Hamilton-Messer does not understand what we mean when we talk about a church that is dying. It would indeed be horrific if I were calling for every member of the Church of Scotland to be killed. Lets hear what Jesus says to the Church in Sardis: “I know your deeds, you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent”(Revelation 3:1a-3b). When we talk about a church dying or deserving to die, we quite clearly do not mean that every single member of that church should be killed in some kind of Christian fatwa! We mean that it is spiritually dead or dying and that it needs renewal, revival and reformation from the Holy Spirit. Would the devil really be calling for that?!
In terms of logic and the use of language to say that something deserves to die is not the same as wishing that it should die. It might also help Mr Hamilton-Messer to grasp the idea that in fact we ALL deserve to die. After all the wages of sin is death and we are all sinners. Thankfully Jesus came to save us not to condemn us. But His Church will never die – the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her. But that does not mean that particular individual churches or denominations will not die. Indeed they have done so in the past and will do so in the future. The Church in Sardis has gone. The Church in North Africa largely disappeared. And the Church of Scotland is not guaranteed to continue. Nor the Free Church. We do not deserve to continue if we turn away from Christ and his Word.
Inadvertently perhaps the good Reverend gives us some indication of why the Church of Scotland is dying:
1) The Church of Scotland is dying because it refuses to face the facts about itself. Being a minister of the Church Mr Hamilton-Messer should know that the membership is not 500,000 but 400,000 and falling at the rate of 20,000 per year. He should also be aware that a large percentage of that group is nominal. For example a few weeks ago I was speaking to a minister who said that in his town there is a church with around 2,000 members. When he visited the church the attendance was 20! Of course a 1% attendance rate of the membership is extreme, but I know of plenty churches who have rolls of several hundred and attendances below 50. I think of another church that on paper is rich (the sale of a couple of manses and buildings) and on paper has a large membership, but in reality is dying with a congregation of less than one hundred – 80% of whom are women over 70. It is literally dying.
Another example of this fantasy view of the church came out this week. The C of S press department (which makes Pravda look efficient and honest!) issued a statement rejoicing that the Kirkmuirhill congregation were staying in the Church of Scotland. You can read it here – http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news_and_events/news/2014/congregation_declines_to_follow_minister_to_free_church
133 out of 280 members have voted to leave the Church of Scotland. Given the demographic and the way things work that means the vast majority of the active worshipping congregation will be leaving with their minister. Yet the clerk of Presbytery announces to the press “it is business as usual for Kirkmuirhill parish church”! Yep – the vast majority of office bearers, praying and active members leave and ‘it is business as usual’! I wonder just what that ‘usual’ business is? I think it is hard to find a better example of the delusional mind-set within the Kirk as it sleepwalks its way over the cliff. Unless of course you want to take the Tron in Glasgow as another example. When the congregation who left the denomination were refused permission to stay in the building it was announced by the Presbytery that they would be restarting an evangelical congregation within the Tron. How has that worked out? A building in the centre of Glasgow that is closed most of the time, an evening congregation of a handful of people, and a pittance of a collection to fund the £1 million plus debt on the building.
2) The Church is dying because it refuses to face the facts about the society we live in.
Mr Hamilton-Messer writes: “Regarding his comments on the Humanist Society of Scotland he is also behaving in a totally unchristian manner. They are not a religious organisation but see themselves more a community group. They are often actively involved in all of our local communities, hospitals and schools.
They do not attempt to persuade schools that they should not have Christian chaplains and in fact often work alongside them.”
The Humanist Society is dedicated to the removal of Christian influence from society. They don’t mind us being Christians as long as we don’t bring our Christianity into education, health care, politics, business, and the media. They are happy for us to be the equivalent of a ‘knitting club’ or a Trekkie convention. In other words they don’t mind us being Christians as long as we don’t behave or speak like Christians. There is a deep-seated hatred and hostility towards the church, because there is a deep-seated hatred and hostility towards God and his Good News. I personally have daily experience of this. The motto of the NFA’s (New Fundamentalist Atheists) is ‘there is no God and I hate him”! They are entitled to their view. But for the Church to ‘journey together’ with them is suicide. Of course it may be that I have got this all wrong and that the people of Scotland are really followers of Jesus Christ who just recognise that I am under the control of the devil! Perhaps the best comment I have read on this comes from Prof Donald Macleod – http://www.freechurch.org/index.php/scotland/news_events_item/prof_scoffs_at_kirks_time_for_reflection/
I don’t say this out of fear or hostility towards the humanists or many others who do not know God. Indeed my hearts desire is they would come to know Jesus and be given new life. Which brings me onto my third reason:
3) The Church of Scotland is Dying because it has lost its Fear of God.
“I actually wonder why some well-educated Church Ministers seem to have some sort of fear about things outside of Christianity and the Church. Our God is big enough to stand against anyone but people seem happier to put their trust in human fears.”.’……So Rev Robertson, what is it you are so afraid of. The Church of Scotland? The Humanist Society? The Church and Society Council? Liberal Christians? Let me tell you that my God is BIGGER than all of these!!”
There are so many things wrong with this right statement. Firstly I don’t fear things outside of Christianity and the Church. I fear God. I am concerned about what is happening outside the Church because I care for people and I know the harm that is done to a society when it turns away from the Lord. Secondly I have a greater concern about the poison within the Church. I know it makes Christ sick. He would prefer us to either hot or cold, rather than the lukewarmness that passes for so much Christianity. I have seen the devastating effect that the twin cancers of legalism and liberalism have upon the Church. I don’t fear the Church of Scotland – to me that would be like fearing a mouse. I fear the Lion of Judah. I don’t fear the Church of Scotland – I weep for it as I weep for my country.
If the Church of Scotland feared God, it would not be approving of things that God calls wrong. It would not be ‘journeying together’ with those who deny and hate God. It would be speaking with a prophetic voice of the Lion of Judah, addressing the Word of God to our nation, not playing politics and releasing press releases with the power of a squeaking mouse. Even now as I write the Scottish Parliament has just passed legislation that will undermine the very foundation of our society, biblical marriage. The Church of Scotland could have led the way in opposition to this, instead being more afraid of being thought ‘out of touch’ and ‘irrelevant’, it hummed and hawed and spoke with all the authority of a wet paper bag. As a result several MSP’s who are members of the Church of Scotland voted in favour of this regressive step and stood by as their fellow MSPs caricatured and ridiculed biblical Christianity.
Speaking of fear – I admit to a great many fears. I fear myself and my own heart. Satan may not control me, but like he did with Peter, he can use me to undermine Christ’s work. My only hope is that Christ knows, forgives and guides. I fear the devil because I have experienced spiritual warfare. But Christ has overcome the principalities and powers. I fear death because it is the last enemy. But Christ has conquered death so that now the day of my death will be better than the day of birth! I just pray that God will enable me to live a life worthy of him. I know that when I often fail, he will forgive me because of Christ. I just hope and pray that my Christian brothers and sisters can exercise that same patience and forgiveness.
Let me deal with one other common criticism that is made. ‘You are a Free Church minister and you are just saying this to recruit for the Free Church….you are being judgemental, unchristian, divisive”. Those who say this have no idea what I feel. The Word of God is divisive – it always has been, and it always will be. But it also brings unity. When we unite around Christ and his Word there is a deep unity. I experience that within my own congregation. In St Peters we have Baptists, Presbyterians, Charismatics, Catholics and even those from a pagan background. What unites us? That we are ‘Free Church’? God forbid! What unites us is that despite the fact we are all sinners who can really rub each other up the wrong way, we love Jesus and we listen to and seek to obey, his Word. What I wrote above about the Church of Scotland can just as easily apply to the Free Church. We too have to be realistic about ourselves, our society and our God. I loathe church politics and I identify completely with Thomas Chalmers great motto – “Who cares for the Free Church compared with the Christian good of Scotland”. I would quite happily see the Free Church die if it meant that many more people in Scotland became believers and a renewed church rose out of the ashes.
Conclusion and Thanks:
I want again to stress how much I love my brothers and sisters in the Church of Scotland. After the last three blogs I received a number of responses from ministers, elders and members who are really hurting and who were grateful for someone speaking out. These were not just from the usual suspects, but also sometimes from surprising sources, ordinary Christians who are not part of any particular networks, but are just heartbroken at the rottenness they are now perceiving.
One minister in his sixties wrote and expressed the view of many. He said if he were younger he would leave and join the Free Church, and start a new church plant in the Borders. Another sent me this – Just a note to say how much I warmed to your recent letter concerning the CofS/Humanist approach to the Scottish Parliament. Your perceptive sentiments were needed to be said, and please God will be a means of turning some hearts and minds to the Lord. Thank you very much. In my experience of the C of S, in the past 20 years or so, there is much bitterness, hatred. deceit even, and self promotion that is totally unworthy of Christian clergy.
I too am grateful for the Lewis Presbytery who acted quickly and decisively in distancing themselves from the C of S/Humanist alliance and for other evangelicals who have spoken out. It was good to hear of at least one other Presbytery where my blog was read out and where people are acting upon it. And it is good that there are evangelicals who are speaking out, not just to show other evangelicals that they are doing so, but because they too fear and love the Lord. We are brothers and sisters working together – whatever the denomination!
Please remain alert though. One ‘evangelical ‘minister told someone in his congregation that he should not listen to me as I had got it all wrong and the agreement had been changed to just a symbolic name change. That is not the truth. The Humanist Society have got a wee bit upset with me and whilst not accusing me of being the devil, they have accused me of being an ‘angry hater’! They are adamant that their agreement with the Church of Scotland still stands, that is has been submitted to the Scottish Parliament, and that it is much more than a symbolic name change. The deed has been done. Don’t let your church face two ways at the same time – on the one hand telling you that ‘everything remains the same’ and on the other telling the Humanists ‘everything has changed’.
One other thing. I realise that some will be uncomfortable that I post this here – why not just let it go? So what if some ‘nutter’ on the Internet vents his spleen in a wee rant on the Internet? After all you express strong opinions so you have to expect that kind of stuff. I think it is unfair to automatically dismiss Rev Hamilton-Messer as a nutter. He is after all an an associate minister of the Church of Scotland. But it may be true that it is unwise to continue to discuss this. It seems that I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. So given that this is my own personal blog, and I find writing helpful in working through these things, I decided to publish and be damned. I was not going to mention his name but apparently he was very keen that his message got to me and that he be identified with it, so I respect his wishes. He wrote I would like to say that my open letter to DAR is not a rant but is a statement of what I believe to be the truth about him. What sort of Christian would ever say that the Church deserves to die. Only God has that right and DAR is not God as far as I am aware…….I put it on several other places as well in the hope that someone would send it on to him. (a word of advice – if you wish to reach me I have a postal address and there is always e-mail!).
Perhaps Rev Hamilton-Messer won’t listen to an automaton of the devil, but he will listen to Christ. So I leave the last word with Him. It’s a word to all of us in Scotland.
To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:1-6
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