Reflections on a Sunny Sad Historic Afternoon at The Church of Scotland General Assembly

Reflections on a Sunny Sad Historic Afternoon at The Church of Scotland General Assembly

Today I spent over three hours sitting and listening to a very important ‘debate’ in the Church of Scotland Assembly. I am still recovering. I have gone through a host of emotions and thoughts. Without giving a blow-by-blow account I just share with you an edited version of the notes I took as I sat for over three hours in a boiling hot public gallery with the sun beating down on me through the roof window.

As I sit in the back row of the public gallery of the Assembly, there are some things that strike me. Firstly how impressive it is – at least compared with the Free Church Assembly –in terms of size and grandeur. I haven’t seen anyone with wigs at ours!   Secondly the demographic is surprizing – my impression is that the Assembly is predominantly elderly with a significant proportion female – around 50%.   Thirdly as I spoke to some C of S friends at the door there is an air of resignation amongst the conservative evangelicals. It is sad to hear the sorrow and despair in their voices.

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The first couple of hours are strangely flat and dull given the importance of the issues. The report of the legal question committee is presented by Rev Alan Hamilton, the convenor, who given the hopelessness of his remit does a good job.   But I am still astounded to hear the claim that God wants a ‘mixed economy’. In the jargon this means that the Church of Scotland believes that God wants them to affirm the traditional biblical understanding of His Word, and then to allow its congregations and ministers to depart from that.   I wonder if this is only to apply to ministers in civil partnerships, or whether it would also apply to baptism, Presbyterianism, having women elders and sending money to 121! The plea is for peace and unity – at any cost.

Now we have just heard a stunning admission.   The proposed mix economy means that the Church of Scotland cannot guarantee that any of its ministers would not be subject to a successful civil suit on the issue.

And another one. In response it becomes clear that whilst the Church of Scotland would allow homosexual civil partnerships, if the partners got married they would be subject to Church discipline!

And now the amendments:

1) Dr Finlay MacDonald – proposes an amendment on a technical matter of the KS giving four Sundays notice not two and not having a second meeting of the KS. Ministers in civil partnerships will find it difficult to secure appointments because of the complicated and protracted process. Welcome the green lights but fear that amber could become red.

“2009, 2011, and 2013 all voted to move towards departure” (so much for those who kept assuring us that no decision had been made!). He did not want a KS which was departing from the doctrine and practice of the Church to suffer ‘discrimination’.

The amendment lost 206 to 351

2) Rev Dr Paul Middleton – Wanted to shift decision time not to the time of a vacancy but at any time.   “People outside the Church who think that this is strange to continue to discuss this”  We owe a great deal to the conservative colleagues who should have a place and voice in the Church – I came out of that. It was my introduction to the church. Asked evangelicals to compromise.   Secretary to the British NT Society.   In danger of creating two class of ministers. Ministers come in all shapes and sizes, conservative, liberal etc. and they may or may not be in civil partnerships.

There were several other speakers and then the Convenor Rev Alan Hamilton responded.

For 165 Against 411.

3) Amendment from Rev Catherine Buchan – wanted the overture only to apply to congregations where they want to appoint a minister in a civil partnership. The legality of this was questioned by the clerk. She was allowed to speak to it.

The convenor responded. What weighs against the amendment is uncertainty and confusion – (which seems to me to sum up the whole issue – its what happens when you ignore the Word of God!)

The amendment was overwhelmingly defeated

. At this point I am struggling with the heat and boredom. It seems to me as though these amendments are relatively trivial and also political. The political purpose is to see several relatively meaningless amendments from the liberals defeated, so that the main issue then gets passed and the church can claim it is in the middle compromised ground. I also wonder about the waste of time – this means that the substantive counter motion was reduced to a fairly minimal discussion.

Jeremy Middleton – Counter Motion – Putting forward a Declaratory Act which declares the scriptural position (“the Church’s historic and current position is that, according to God’s revealed will in Scripture, marriage between one man and one woman is the only right and proper context for sexual relations”), and asks that no-one be allowed to go against the doctrine and practice of the Church.     Albert Bogle’s motion was sprung on the Assembly – it appeared attractive. However the overture should be rejected because:

1)   Its risky – The overture is fraught with risk. Legislation which is permissive will fall foul of discrimination legislation – if I am setting out on to the sea I want the boat I am sailing in to be watertight.

2)   It’s ragged – There are a considerable number of loose ends.   He gives one or two examples.   Example – Assessors may not reject a candidate because they are in a civil partnership even if they are doing so because they are affirming the doctrine of the church!

3)   Its wrong. Because it’s illogical for us to affirm that conduct is wrong but then at the same time allow that conduct. It is unbiblical which is the most important thing. The Assembly has acknowledged is that the teaching of Scripture is fairly clear. Its not about generosity of spirit – those who affirm the doctrine of the Church are bound to affirm a sin to be repented of contrary to what others may regard as something to be celebrated.

I want to bring a measure of clarity. The central issue is not about sexuality but about sexual relationships.   The gospel is for us not about us. It is about our honouring God through the conduct we engage in – and that conduct is laid down for us in the Scriptures.

Surely our practice is bound to follow our conviction? We are called to be consistent.     We need to make clear to our people, our land and nation what it is our church believes and why we behave in the way we do.   That is why we need a declaratory act.   (As I listen to this I am filled with admiration and thankfulness for Jeremy – his manner, tone, directness and clear adherence to the bible is wonderful. I am deeply moved and my heart tells me – surely any Christian will see what he says is biblical and will vote for it. My mind has doubts..We will see)

Donald Michael McInnes – Can we take it as a given that scripture is against this? Or are we going to start arguing against it?   The moderator responds by saying that there are differences in the interpretation of scripture.   Today we are trying to avoid a matter of deep discussion on our constitution and just deal with the overture.

John Kennedy – youth delegate seconded.   Spoke of his love for evangelism.   A number of his friends have left the church.   Even stopped going to any church – because of the abuse they have suffered for holding to the scriptures.   Many are young people who have considered ministry but have left. We should reverse the way we have been moving the past few years.

Sandra Black – spoke against the counter-motion.

David Easton – Methodist.   Against. Need to take the whole of the Scripture; things are not quite as clear-cut. There is not in scripture one pattern of marriage. Clarity is not at the heart of Scripture…it is the Spirit rather than a fixed position. Now we see through a glass darkly but then we shall see face to face. (I find it surprising how often liberals use The Spirit as their justification and amazing how often the Holy Spirit seems to hold their views!).

Bryan Kerr – counter motion troubled him greatly. The committee’s motion was the best chance for peace and unity in the church and to let us spread the good news of Jesus Christ. God calls all sorts of people into ministry.   God accepts that LGBT people can bring great blessing to our church.   Gives us the best chance to stay together.

Neil J Dougall – attracted by a church where risk has been removed. Risk is part of the life of faith. This was a way of managing the diversity within the church. We want to remain a diverse church.   (What stuns me about this is that Neil, is or was, an evangelical).

Jenny Adams – spoke against. To speak against the overture is a big shift against the historical position of the church.   (Amazing how within one year, Albert Bogles innovative motion has become ‘the historic position of the church’!)

Dr Stewart Gillan- takes me back to my childhood (Jeremy’s position)…..I have changed my view. United Church of Canada. Spoke of their decision in 1988 to allow practicing homosexual ministers.   (Apart from the rather patronising ‘I used to believe what Jeremy believes but now I have grown up’ attitude what surprises me here is that Dr Stewart does not tell us what happened in the United Church, how there were splits and there has been continued decline. It might be helpful to delegates if he were a little more honest!).

Stephen Reid – spoke in favour of counter motion.   This is about the Word of God. Even the revisionist section of the report last year acknowledged that most if not all scriptures spoke against homosexuality – but they say we have to have 21st century opinion. We have liberty of opinion on matters which don’t enter into the substance of faith but only where it is agreeable to the Word of God. We are going on human opinion rather than on what God says.   You nullify the Word of God if you don’t adopt the counter motion.

Mark Malcolm – we are in danger of asking for a church of what we ask for – of our own making. The trajectory we have been on has not led to unity.   We are in danger of moving from constrained differences to institutionalised divisions.   I have friends who have same sex attraction who will be devastated if the overture is passed. Why should we tear ourselves apart and move from our Presbyterian unity and descend into the worst kind of congregationalism. In the counter motion you are not being asked to do something new – just to uphold the scriptural principles you all vowed to uphold!   We are asked to be faithful to what God has already commanded. (Again this was a superb speech – witty, biblical, logical, and clear….)

Hector Morrison – spoke in favour of counter motion.

David Scott – spoke in favour of counter motion. Jesus did not redefine marriage.   Out of loyalty to Jesus Christ he will support Jeremy’s motion. (My heart really goes out to David who seems visibly shaken – and little wonder. God have mercy…and protect your people).

Farquhar Forbes – training to be a minister. Spoke for the counter motion. He mentions his experience in California, in a church which welcomed homosexuals but asked them, like everyone else to live by Scripture.   We can show grace, compassion and understanding, whilst standing for the truth. (At this point I can’t help but hope that these excellent speeches will sway the Assembly to see sense. And then it hits me. Where are the liberals? What is going on? Why is there so little real debate? Its obvious – they don’t care. They know they have won and there is no chance of it being reversed. All they have to do is sit quiet, fold their arms, assure everyone that everything is done ‘graciously’ and they have all they want. Exactly as they planned from 2009 when they set out on this ‘trajectory’.   Speaking of graciously I am astonished how easily we are fooled – we seem to think gracious means nice. To me it means full of the grace of Christ – I don’t think the liberals are being gracious at all. They know they have won and they expect evangelicals to keep their own house in order and make sure that as few as possible leave, and that those who do leave are ostracised and punished. If someone stabs me in the back, it is of little relevance to me whether they do it ‘graciously’ and with a smile or with a scowl! How do you tell God his word is wrong, with grace?!)

John C Christie – another former moderator. Spoke against the counter motion.   This is polarising. Lets go back to Albert Bogle – the Holy Spirit was speaking to us and he still is….I too operate under the authority of Scripture. Blessed are the peacemakers.   We have to recognise our differences, and learn to work together. The Church of Scotland is diminished when people have to leave.   Pains me when their call to ministry is not being honoured. Go on in Albert Bogles spirit.

Jeremy – summing up – Moderator said declaratory act is retrospective.

1)   The counter motion is simple. We have made ourselves very complicated. The overture is complicated. The counter motion is simple.

2)   The counter motion is clear. We are in a confused, uncertain and awkward situation.

3)   The counter motion is about integrity – we start with what the Scriptures teach and what our confessional statements affirm. The Declaratory Act just affirms what the Scripture teaches. This should not be contentious even though it is not comfortable. We do not dialogue with God – we listen to what he said and we do it. Think very carefully about which button you press – the risk is not that of legal action or costs – it is of stepping outside of the will of God and turning away from his word. Isaiah 11 was read – my people are determined to turn away from me. With a heavy heart I urge you to hear that Word.

(If anything this is even better than his opening speech.   It is so devastatingly clear. And the warning at the end was so so solemn. I feel like I have been listening to the voice of God speaking through a prophet. Surely, surely, surely the Church will not close its ears? If they refuse this then I cannot see any hope….)

The Convenor replies – Takes Jeremy to task for the illogicality of not making his proposed act retrospective because that means he will have introduced a mixed economy. He admits it is new and unfamiliar. This overture offers new ways, for new challenges in uncertain times.

The Moderator prayed.

Vote: For Overture = 369

For Counter Motion = 189

I sit stunned. I can’t believe it. Really. The Church of Scotland has just voted 2:1 directly to refuse the teaching of the Bible and to deliberately and self-consciously go against it. How is that possible?   How do intelligent men and women believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding them to go against His own Word?   I really feel for Hector, David, Jeremy, Andrew and many other friends who must really hurt.   What do they do? Surely, if they can stand the pain, they have to stay and fight within Presbyteries to try and get this overturned through the Barrier Act. We must pray earnestly for them. But now they only have until December.   I have friends who genuinely believe that this does not really change anything – they accept that they were ordained into a biblically compromised denomination and that is where they feel called to remain. Although they have surely to ask the question, can we do so without being ourselves compromised?    I have other friends who genuinely believe that renewal and reformation is just around the corner. They think there are more and more evangelicals who will eventually take over a declining church and reverse the trends. I would so love that to be true. But the evidence of this afternoon suggests that the gap in favour of the liberals is growing and that the battle is lost.   I have yet other friends who see what is going on, who refuse to bow the knee to Baal, and who will continue to fight, feeling a genuine responsibility and calling to their own local flocks. May God bless them all.   But the warning salvo from the Establishment at the heart of the Church yesterday about ‘gangsters’, who oppose the ordination of women, is a clear indication that their days are numbered. Whichever way one looks it seems as though there are difficult questions and difficult days ahead.

Sometimes we fill inclined to say ‘father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing’. I suspect that the Assembly knew exactly what it was doing. They have no excuse. I do not believe it is possible to be more clear, gracious, logical and biblical than Jeremy Middleton was. I am so thankful that there are still men and women like him in the Church of Scotland.   But the Church has decided not to listen. I am genuinely shocked and stunned. Ichabod.

I got up. Moved out onto the Royal Mile where I was bathed in beautiful sunshine. And wept…..

David Robertson

May 21st 2014

Footnote:  My reading that night was Psalm 74 and Isaiah 22.  Both seemed very apposite.   This from Ps 74:

18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, O LORD,
how foolish people have reviled your name.
19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
20 Have regard for your covenant,
because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.
21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
may the poor and needy praise your name.

22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
remember how fools mock you all day long.
23 Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,
the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

 

The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Ps 74:18–23). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “Reflections on a Sunny Sad Historic Afternoon at The Church of Scotland General Assembly

  1. Sadly, I have top comment anonymously. The real issue is about ecclesiasticism in the Kirk and how ministers select others who are of “the same substance”. Somehow the Kirk gave more and more power to ministers rather than elders. It was a creeping change, but it happened gradually after WW2. Once that happened there was a tendency for them to act as gatekeepers to the ministry, only recognising the calls of people who were like themselves. Sure, some evangelicals were admitted because there was a demand for evangelical ministers “up north”, but it became more and more difficult for anyone of that persuasion to get through selection. What we did get was fairly large numbers of people who have no relationship with God in the pulpit. God knows, I am a pretty washed up case of a Christian, but at least I am convicted of my own inadequacy. There are many who openly mock those who believe. There is a terrible puffed up pride at work and it is terribly saddening. If only the calls of people to ministry had been tested more thoroughly in the 80’s and 90’s, rather than looking at their academic ability and who they were associating with. I agree with you David that the evangelicals cannot rescue a declining kirk. They would have needed the big players to stay in and they are all in the process of leaving, or have left already. But look at the vote: it was 33% in favour of Jeremy’s proposal. That is not the great victory for the liberals that it will probably be painted. I suspect it will come back to bite. Lets see what happens. The issue of ministers in same sex marriages has to be looked at and that will open up the fact that they can’t be church marriages. A whole new can of worms awaits.

  2. I her you David. Particularly with what you have said about going outside in the sunshine and having wept. I identify with that, except for me when I have done so it has been with regard to the church in Scotland rather than any particular denomination.

    It pains me to express this having been party to the tragic demise of the International Christian college and as a member of the CofS, that maybe the way God is working in this is in the diminishing of what for me are and have been beloved institutions.

    What is is that scripture says a bout pruning producing fruit? I think yes while it is perhaps a time for grieving, maybe the way God is working across the spectrum of denominations that represent the church in Scotland is by way of paving the way for exciting times ahead?

    “For we know that all things God works for good for those who love him, who have been called to his purpose” Rom 8:28.

    1. Ironically Alan you will notice that your own post contradicts itself. You criticise and judge another Christian (assuming you are a Christian) for criticising and judging other Christians. I wrote what I wrote because I love the Lord, his Word and his Church, and especially the Church in Scotland of which the Church of Scotland is a key part. To watch the Church turning away from the Lord, demands speech, not silence. I’m sorry if that upsets you…

      1. Alan, please don’t be dishonest. You stated “Why do you feel the need to criticise other Christians? Are you perfect that you feel you can judge others? I think not.” This is asking a question in the same way that asking ‘why are you such an idiot? is a question. It is an accusation. You accused me of criticising other Christians and you also suggested that you could not do so unless you were perfect! The irony is that your post was itself a criticism, and therefore, unless you are claiming to be perfect, self-contradictory!

  3. I too was struck by how weak the debate was from the overture supporters. It seemed that almost every contribution (in the short time that was allowed) was from an evangelical supporting the counter-motion. How then could the Assembly not be persuaded?

    I can only assume that they have heard what the Bible says, but that they are able to re-interpret it in the light (or darkness) of what society thinks.

    Well, onto Presbytery, and let us hope that it is squarely defeated just as the blessing of civil partnerships was.

  4. David, I admire your heart. It is right to weep but I suspect I would not. I guess it is because for many years I have viewed the CofS as a lost cause. Once the integrity of Scripture is doubted and obedience to its commands widely viewed with indifference any hope of even a merely orthodox church (let alone a living church) is gone. No confession, however, detailed will rescue it; if they believe not the Word of God neither will they be persuaded by the most watertight confession. No politicking will rescue it. The problem is much more profound.

    If there is to be any rescue for the CofS it will not come through church politics but a spiritual awakening in the country from which all churches will benefit. Nothing short of this will stem the evil of dead churches/denominations and bring new life.

    But the subject is much broader and raises the very basis of what constitutes a church and the nature of church fellowship. Here my sympathies lie largely with MLJ; the church is the community of the redeemed. Even mere orthodoxy does not create a church, living stones are needed. Therefore the plea of MLJ remains true; come out from among them and be separate.

    There is today no apostolic church (that is directly constituted by apostles); we live in the confusion of the last days of 1&2 Timothy (chapters 4 and 3 respectively), chapters which describe not the world but the professing church (what marks the world in Romans 1 marks the church in the pastorals). The call (and duty) comes to separate from what is evil and meet with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart.

    2Tim 2:19-21 (ESV2011)
    But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

    Where two or three meet in his name there the church is and there God’s blessing is found.

    1. Very interesting that you should be talking this way John, I have been drawing parallels myself with MLJ 1966 EA conference – different times different issues but human nature not having changed. I agree with what you say about spiritual awakening rather than church politics and “church” being wherever two or three are gathered in Christs name.

      Of course you will recall John Stott regarding MLJ as being in error due to the biblical precedent of the remnant being with Israel. Nevertheless he and MLJ staying friends. In that case whenever they being together it being “church”.

  5. I fully appreciate readers of this blog (and of course, David) will disagree with my views on this issue. I personally believe the Church of Scotland is moving forward in a most biblical way, allowing Christians to maintain integrity and act according to their conscience on deeply held views without forcing all others to act against their conscience (see Romans 14 as an excellent example). However, to my brothers and sisters in Christ who are in pain or dismay at the way the C of S is moving, I would wish to encourage you with the words of Gamaliel in Acts 5:

    “When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

    May Christ’s peace be upon us all as we journey these difficult times.

    1. Monk – you are aware of what the church of Scotland has said and done. The Assembly agreed that where the bible mentions homosexuality it is opposed. The assembly declared that it believed the biblical and historic position that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex should be within marriage. The assembly then said that congregations and ministers could go against this biblical position if they so wished. The fact that you consider this illogical, hypocritical and unworkable position to be the ‘most biblical way’ is beyond belief. I despair that Christians have come to this level of confusion and madness. Your misquotation of Gamaliel out of context again does not work – if you applied it as a principle across the board the church would never deal with any heresy!

      1. It is a little more nuanced than the simplistic statement “congregations and ministers could go against this biblical position if they so wished”. Firstly, it acknowledges not that congregations don’t care what the Bible says as you attempt to portray, but rather it acknowledges not all interpret the Bible the same way in the current context of same sex relationships. Secondly, it is not just a free for all but it is Kirk Sessions who must prayerfully decide. In our Presbyterian model, the kirk session is the court. They must weigh up and prayerfully discern their position should a situation arise where they wish to respond to potential calling from God to be a minister in a church. It is not enough for congregations to feel a certain way – to do so is to completely ignore the role of spiritual discernment and leadership of the church elders.

        But I do believe that we are praying so much about this issue that God is doing something greater in our Church than we presently understand and that we can trust God to be leading us despite our different interpretations and believes on certain issues.

      2. Monk – it is still the case that the Church of Scotland through its supreme court has said that we uphold the biblical and historical position. And that it has then said but we give permission for individual churches to go against that. How anyone in any sense can regard that as biblical, logical or workable is beyond me. I do agree with you that God is doing something – he is allowing the church to destroy itself – it really is Romans 1 in action. As you pointed out in an earlier post – we will see. But I will prophesy right now that the decline will continue and indeed accelerate over the next few years and that in 2020 – whilst there were still be a Church of Scotland it will one that is half the size it is now. Unless the Lord intervenes and stops us destroying ourselves.

      3. Hi David
        You ask/state “How anyone in any sense can regard that as biblical, logical or workable is beyond me”.
        The church has been wrestling with profound differences, views, traditions, understandings and genuine heartfelt disagreement from our very beginnings. It was first wrestled with in earnest when gentiles entered the Church family and we had to wrestle with the New Covenant and what biblical rules applied and how to live together with profound difference of opinion. The pain felt by many of our early Jewish Christian brothers and sisters who felt a challenge to their historical understanding (their own orthodoxy and tradition) would have been immense and not too dissimilar to our conservative brothers and sisters in the Church today.
        God bless
        MM

      4. Nice sidestep! But that doesn’t work either. Are you seriously comparing conservative evangelicals with the Judaizers in the NT Church? You think liberals are the equivalent of the apostle Paul?! Talk about desperate pleading! Show me one example where the NT Church said, ‘the Bible teaches this, this is the Word and will of God, but its ok if some of you want to go against it’!

    2. David
      There is no sidestep and no desperate pleading. No need to resort to these games.
      I do not want to get into childish and fruitless verse picking arguments here. However, I will give you some examples as you request, but not for ongoing argument.

      Paul’s letter to the Romans – it is not the Judaizers but the genuine Jewish Christian as we can see in Romans 14 that I am referring to. It is an insult to our Jewish Christian brothers and sisters to refer to them all as Judaizers. Many had genuine heartfelt desire to embrace gentiles as brothers and sisters but were pained at how the Law that was their history appeared to be being set aside (in particular, the customs, food restrictions and holy days – none of these were trivial issues, all were biblical, and it is wrong to dismiss them as insignificant). The Judaizers were the ones trying to force all to submit to their ways, and are a different group completely.

      There are of course no examples that fit your narrow and incorrect description of “the Bible teaches this, this is the Word and will of God, but its ok if some of you want to go against it’. However there are many examples of revising our previous understandings and application (take for example Jesus’ ” you have heard it said… but I say to you” teachings e.g. on hating enemies) and of genuine difference of Christian understanding of how to apply scripture as Paul’s regular pastoral teaching shows (e.g. the new inclusion of women, slaves and gentiles at the core of church life) .

      A correct wording of your sentence would be “Many believe the Bible teaches this, and this is the Word and will of God, but some disagree on what God is saying through the Bible and we respectfully allow space for that disagreement in love’.

      There are plenty of examples of this in scripture and throughout history. Of course, if you forcibly redefine the debate to simplistic arguments then it appears nonsensical. Thankfully most appear aware that it is a much more complex issue than the simplistic argument so often put forward by some. Whenever I try to show this on your blog, I feel you resort to mockery and insult to put me in my place, rather than thanking me for a different perspective and genuinely trying to understand it. Far easier to call all different views illogical, unbiblical or poison coated in honey…

      I understand that you believe you are standing up and prophesying against heresy. However, we need to all take care that in doing so we do not speak in anger against another brother or sister in Christ or undermine attempts at promoting unity as the bible teaches or we inadvertently fall into the trap Paul warns of in Titus 3:9-11.

      God bless

      MM

      1. Monk – I am sorry but it is a desperate sidestep. And it is twisting scripture.

        Your exegesis of Romans 14 is sloppy. It is not about following Jewish customs. Since when did the OT dietary laws forbid eating meat?! I find it intriguing that you use Romans to defend the C of S position on homosexuality when as you know Romans 1 explicitly condemns homosexuality and in a supreme irony (given this week) condemns those who approve of those who practice what God forbids.

        My example was not narrow and incorrect. The Church of Scotland has declared that it holds to the biblical and historical position on same sex partnerships. It has also declared that those who want to go against that can. You say that is biblical yet you cannot give one biblical example of that happening.

        As regards to resorting to simplistic arguments that is precisely what you do – distorting scripture to try and fit your own agenda.

        Having sat through the whole mocking blasphemy that was the debate on Wednesday I would suggest that you need to listen to the warning given by Jeremy Middleton about going against the Word of God. Titus 3:9-11 is a great text to quote. For me it shows how desperate you have become when you regard same sex partnerships as being ‘foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law”. The irony is that you ignore the context of the whole letter, which is telling elders how to be good elders and includes being faithful to their wifes (not leaving them and starting a relationship with another man – as the GA approved!). Other apposite and in context verses from Titus – ” 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
        10 For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain” – “16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” – “2 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.”(The C of S says no – its ok – you can teach what is not in accord with sound doctrine@!)..

        What happened on Wednesday was followed by Thursday when there was the ridiculous and blasphemous proposal that the theology of the atonement was responsible for violence against women. Would you want to defend that as being biblical as well?!

        I have no desire to have unity with such blasphemy and such mockery. Indeed whilst I am more than happy to have fellowship with those in the C of S such as Jeremy Middleton who actually believe and teach the Bible, I have more in common with an honest atheist that I do with a dishonest ‘Christian’. Liberal Christianity is fundamentally dishonest. Give me Richard Dawkins any day over Sally Fulton-Foster!

  6. Hi David A big thank you for this report. It must have been difficult to not shout out. It portrays what the media are also pointing out that the church needs to change to meet the peoples needs. They just don’t get it do they. They should all read scriptures for themselves and listen to God’s word. He is the truth not Kaye Adams and all the others. Thanks again Every blessing David Lipp

  7. This tells me what was reported several years back. Satan is working very hard because HE is defeated. And the Ministry needs to understand this!

  8. Sad news indeed but I am not surprised. Satan has never changed his tactic from the beginning of time. “Did God really say?”

    1. “Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
      Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
      The mother of mankind, what time his pride
      Had cast him out from Heav’n, with all his host
      Of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring
      To set himself in glory above his peers,
      He trusted to have equalled the Most High,
      If he opposed; and with ambitious aim
      Against the throne and monarchy of God
      Raised impious war in Heav’n and battle proud
      With vain attempt.

  9. Dear David, I don’t know why you were surprised by the demographic. Roughly half the ministers in the C of S are women (sometimes it seems like more). New elders are almost always women. Congregations are usually elderly. In my age group (just under 40) the women outnumber the men by 6 to 1. Among older people it is 3 to 1 or 2 to 1. The main driving force behind the acceptance of women elders and women ministers in the first place was the lack of available men. In that sense the “women in leadership” issue is becoming a non-issue since the church is turning in to a women’s meeting. (Is this a self-reinforcing situation? Discuss.) If anything the assembly will have a more male/young majority than the congregations since ministers are working age and half are male while only the younger fitter elders are up to travelling to Edinburgh or Presbytery. Admittedly retired ministers/elders can get the week off more easily which might increase their numbers. Again I don’t know why you were struck by the grandness. It’s grand in the same way that the derelict post-office buildings and 19th century status-symbol church buildings are. Basic result of history, no reflection of present circumstances. As you pointed out no debate because it was a foregone conclusion. No surprise there either. I was reading yesterday that my age group – generation x – are cynical in outlook and spiritually polarized. You can see why. I remember my surprise at the 50:50 sort of gender ratio in the Free Church. As for the all-male leadership groups (which I have no problem with) I find the novelty of groups of men outwith pubs/football/building sites leaves me bemused. It’s like another culture, like the days when “a student” = a male student or “a nurse” = a female nurse. Cheers. Louise Date: Thu, 22 May 2014 09:49:38 +0000 To: lj_hogg58@hotmail.com

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