Evangelism The Church in Scotland

Ten Reasons Why the Church of Scotland is in Decline

Its March and the time when Kings go to war.  I don’t intend to go to war but I am very burdened for the state of the whole church of Christ in Scotland and so over the next few weeks as we lead up to the General Assemblies, I thought I would return to this subject (of which there have been other blogs!) and reflect on where we are at and where we might be going.   I hope this is helpful rather than hurtful!   We begin with (on) of the elephants in the room – the continuing decline in the Church of Scotland.

Ten Reasons Why the Church of Scotland is in Decline

The Church of Scotland is disintegrating before our very eyes. Despite optimistic noises from 121 and the sincere but doomed attempt by some to hold on to the notion of ‘the national church’ with a gospel ministry in every parish, there is no evidence that the slide into irrelevance is halting.   It would be pointless to list the few stories of hope and growth (which their thankfully are) order to offset the many of decline and decay. And, for those of a more sensitive and conspiratorial nature, let me state again that anyone who takes any joy in this decline is perverse and sad. The state of the Church of Scotland is a cause for weeping not for Schadenfreude.  Anyone concerned for the good of the people of Scotland and the cause of the Gospel should be concerned.

For the media and the wider world the issue causing people to leave at the moment is the issue of homosexuality and SSM. However, whilst that may be a catalyst, and indeed may be a reason for some, in my view it is not the issue at all. All that the current debacle on ministers in same sex partnerships has done, is shown how far the Church of Scotland has drifted from its biblical roots. The far more serious issue is the one that is illustrated in this sermon preached by Rev. Scott McKenna of Mayfield Salisbury Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.


It is one of the most astonishing things I have heard in a long time. Not simply because of its unbiblical heresy, illogicality, historical ignorance and dishonesty, but also because of its sheer unashamed brazenness. This was posted on YouTube by the Church and is apparently something they exalt in. It is far worse than any homosexual civil partnership.   Let me just go through some of the lowlights, which help show us why the C of S is in decline.  I do so with the caveat that there are still many fine Christians and churches within the C of S, and people should not take this personally – unless they hold to the views described by Mr. McKenna, or are prepared to excuse and justify them. But the overall picture is one of a church in great confusion. Here are the ten reasons why the C of S is in decline:

1) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about Biblical theology – – Scott was asked “Do you believe Jesus died for your sins?’ “With grace I replied, no, no, no, no…that’s ghastly theology…you don’t want to go there.” Lets leave aside the observation that if you speak with grace you don’t need to tell other people that you are doing it.  This is not ghastly theology. This is the theology which is at the heart of the Bible. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture” (1 Corinthians 15:3). So what Paul says is of ‘first importance’, Scott says is ‘ghastly theology’!

2) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about EvangelismJesus died for our sins, in our place.  In my view this is an obstacle to our evangelism“.   Evangelism is telling the good news. The good news is that Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification. That therefore there is forgiveness, renewal, hope, the fruit and gifts of the Spirit, heaven etc. Without that ‘good news’ we have no evangel. And that is why the C of S does not do evangelism. Yes there are congregations and individuals who do, but when this kind of sermon is not only tolerated but also encouraged within the Kirk you cannot help but think that the evangel has been lost.   Sometimes I have been asked to do joint missions with C of S congregations and have been delighted to do so. But other times I have had to decline because the bottom line was that we could not actually agree on what the Good News actually is. Rev McKenna’s declaration that the view that Jesus died for our sins is an obstacle to our evangelism is even more ludicrous when you see the effect that that theology is having on the churches – it is emptying them.

3) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about History – The selective and ignorant misuse of history in the sermon is stunning.   Scott states that Substitutionary atonement is especially prevalent in the Protestant Church – as if the Roman Catholic Church did not teach that Jesus died for our sins!   That teaching apparently only came about because of Anselm of Canterbury in 1097. Clearly Scott has not read the early Church Fathers, nor the New Testament! And therein lies the major issue.

4) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about the Bible – It does not go back to the Bible…some of the words may be there…. He was killed by the powers that rule the world, not as payment for sin…its not there.  

Scott stands up in his high pulpit, with his ecclesiastical frippery and that familiar Scottish presbyterian preaching voice – all of which would be forgivable (even if somewhat of a stumbling block to evangelism) – if he actually taught the Bible and took it seriously. He is ordained as a minister of the word and sacrament.   If an engineer did not do his job as an engineer, if a teacher did not teach, or a nurse did not nurse, they would lose their jobs. Why is it then that ministers of the word within the Kirk manage to stay in post when they don’t teach the word?!

5) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about Faith – “Jesus never asked his followers to believe in a creed or in his divinity – instead he called them to faith….. Its time to ditch substitutionary atonement because it obscures the real meaning of faith – a forgiveness which is done to us is one which leave us unchanged…..”   Here is yet another proof of the truth of the Bible. People, including religious leaders, are walking in great darkness. How else can you explain a minister of the New Testament who fails to grasp the most basic teachings of that New Testament? Christ specifically asked his followers to believe in his divinity; indeed you could not be his follower unless you did – because if you are not following the divine/human Christ, you are not following Christ.   As for faith in that Christ leaving us ‘unchanged’ – has Mr. McKenna never heard of the new birth? The new creation? Apparently not. Instead he offers us some psychobabble waffle about inner transformation; as though it were something we could do ourselves!   Without the new birth we cannot even see the kingdom of God – never mind transform ourselves.

6) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about the Cross – Apparently this was something that happened to Christ, rather than something he was in control of. He was just another victim of a brutal political power. He was not doing anything on the Cross. There was no sacrifice, no self-giving, no atonement – just victimhood which enables me to identify with our victimhood. This kind of ‘cross’ is not the cross that is the power of God for salvation…it’s a weak, pathetic, parody of the Christian gospel which is good news for no-one – except preachers who get paid to spout this non-sense.

7) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about Sin – “Sacrifice means to make sacred….sat at a table with God.   That’s what sacrifice means.  The idea that that lamb would be a scapegoat, a sacrifice for sin would be anathema to them. Sin was nowhere near it.”   Again how anyone who has read the Old Testament (try the book of Leviticus if you want to see an association between sacrifice and sin), the New Testament (the gospels, Romans, Hebrews) or any of the early Church Fathers, can argue that ‘sin was nowhere near it’, is almost incomprehensible.   It seems as though Rev McKenna has taken his theology from a children’s songbook, rather than the bible. Jesus is ‘coming to your house for tea’.   ‘Cup of tea, vicar’ is the mantra of the modern liberal. In reality Christ does offer to come in and sup with us…he does invite us to the wedding feast of the Lamb…he does tell us to sit at his Supper, the Lord’s Supper, the covenantal meal. But he does so on the basis of his person (the God/man) and work (his life, death and resurrection). The Lord’s Supper is a memorial meal of a sacrifice which Rev McKenna explicitly seeks to forget!

8) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about Discipline – One of the problems here is that many of my friends in the C of S will say – of course you are right. We completely agree with you about Scott McKenna, but you should not judge, or appear to judge the whole denomination because of that. I don’t. But you are in a Presbyterian church and therefore if there is to be church discipline (one of the marks of the church) then how you handle such heresy being taught in your church, in your name is crucial. Rev McKenna and those like him are your ‘brethren’. You are sworn to be in submission to the church courts which he sits on.   Is that vow meaningless?   The Moderator of the Kirk had a very interesting piece in this months Life and Work in which he argued that liberals and evangelicals were all brothers and sisters who just had to get on together with the work of the Gospel. Is that what you feel? When you said that God was calling you to stay in what exactly was he calling you to stay in and do, if not to challenge and discipline the nonsensical, blasphemous and heretical teachings of people like Rev McKenna? What is more important to you – the unity of the Kirk? Or the unity of the Church of Christ?   You are shepherds of the flock – is it not your duty to protect them from the wolves? Will anyone go to Edinburgh Presbytery or the General Assembly seeking to deal with the false teaching of Rev McKenna? Or will you continue your submission to him?  I recently spoke to an older mature believer who had been a loyal and faithful member of the C of S all her days. It broke her heart to leave and yet she told me that now she feels liberated. Now she feels she can get on with the work of the Gospel without having to play church politics, or pretend fellowship with people she knew were not believers.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  This is not saying that every evangelical should leave the C of S.  Those who stay within and stick with the Gospel will continue to have my full support.  But that also includes questioning.  It may be the case that you can do a great deal of good within, but might it not also be the case that you could do even more outwith – and be freer?

9) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about Love.  Of course everyone is into love. Who could be against love?   But what do we mean by love?   The Bible says that God is love…it does not say that love is God.   Is there a difference? Yes. And not to get that difference results in terrible confusion.   When we say ‘love is God’ it all depends on what we mean by love. In reality what we usually mean is some kind of human construct, given meaning according to the current fashion and whims of our culture.   We thus end up making both a love and a god in our own image. Which in our current sin-filled and confused world is about as useful as a wet paper bag. On the other hand if we accept God’s self-revelation as love, then we have incredible good news. “This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). By rejecting the atonement, Rev McKenna is rejecting Love.   And although our ‘liberals’ talk a lot about love, they don’t define it and often they don’t practice it. I received a letter from a distraught member of a congregation that has left the C of S. She and all the other elderly people in that congregation have been told that although the parish minister will bury all and sundry in that parish, they will not bury anyone who has left the Kirk. That’s ‘liberal’ love in action!   Strange…if a Free Presbyterian was doing something like that, it would be all over the newspapers and opinion columns.   But this kind of petty lovelessness is all too sadly par for the course. Just ask anyone who has left how ‘the Church’ has treated them and you will see that all the talk of reconciliation is just that – talk.  And sadly – evangelicals are far too often silent when it comes to their fellow evangelicals being mistreated and abused. Its almost as though they think the denomination is more important than the evangel?

10) The C of S is in decline because it is confused about Christ. The central focus of all the worlds religions including Christianity is about inner change…change within us. Each world faith is about inner transformation….dying and raising with Christ are metaphors for personal and communal transformation.”  Religion is faith, faith is pistis, pistes is inner and communal transformation”

What is stunning about this is that Rev. McKenna’s ‘Christianity’ has nothing to do with Christ. Faith is just inner transformation. I saw another astonishing example of this from sadly yet another Presbyterian church, the PCUSA, which has just voted to redefine marriage.   This is what happens when you deny the scriptures – you end up denying God –   ttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/03/17/im-a-presbyterian-minister-who-doesnt-believe-in-god-2/

According to this theology Christianity is just one of the many world religions which are about inner transformation (which shows that Mr. McKenna knows as little about Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as he does about Christianity!). None of it has much to do with Jesus Christ. And there is my concern. If the Church of Scotland is just a social/political/religious institution or club then the sooner it dies the better.   If it is part of the living Church of Jesus Christ, then it needs to start acting as such. It needs to be the pillar and ground of the truth. It needs to proclaim Christ and his atoning work. It needs to long for his kingdom to come and proclaim his life to the spiritually lost and dead.

Never mind the homosexual issue. If a minister of the Kirk can post such a sermon in public and remain a minister in good standing then it can truly be written over this once glorious Kirk of our land, Ichabod – the Glory has departed.

Psalm 80: Restore us, O God;

make your face shine upon us,

that we may be saved.

O Lord God Almighty,

how long will your anger smoulder

against the prayers of your people?

You have fed them with the bread of tears;

you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.

You have made us a source of contention to our neighbours,

and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, O God Almighty;

make your face shine upon us,

that we may be saved.


  1. Sadly the Church of England is in a similar situation despite the efforts of the AB of C Justin Welby who is an evangelical.
    A classic example is the Rev. Giles Fraser, once a Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral (he was a supporter of the “Occupy” movement and resigned when the Cathedral authorities had them finally removed). He is now the darling of the BBC, featuring on “Any Questions” and other vaguely religious programmes. However he too has completely incoherent and unbiblical theology as evidences by his Guardian article in response to Stephen Fry. “For God is the story of human dreams and fears. God is the shape we try to make of our lives. God is the name of the respect we owe the planet. God is the poetry of our lives.” Guardian 02.02.15
    Several years ago my wife and I were invited to attend a memorial service for two young firemen who had been killed in a tragic accident a year previously. It was held in a traditional small town Anglican church and was stuffed full (probably for the first time in years) with firemen of every rank and age. There were young lads bursting out of their tee-shirts who had probably never been in a church in their life. There were senior officers covered in medals and many accompanying wives and girlfriends (and possibly boyfriends!)
    What an opportunity for the minister to reflect on the meaning of life and the wonders of the gospel, and to make all present at least consider our eternal destiny.
    What we got was religion – a “sung Eucharist for All Saints day” and a five minute sermonette on how we should pray for the dead – yes! It was completely incomprehensible to all, including ourselves, and we left feeling completely disheartened for the future of the C of E and the missed opportunity.
    Yes there are some excellent C of E churches and, in my experience, some of the best biblical teachers I have ever sat under have been evangelical Anglicans (e.g. Stott, Lucas).
    But in most village and small town Anglican churches up and down the country the gospel has not been preached for many years and the buildings are dank and decaying.
    Amos 8, 11-12 just about sums it up.

  2. Hello David, Who could in all conscience disagree with any part of what you say. I’m a part of a small group (30-40 adults + children) which has chosen to break away from the “Nat Denomination” for all the reasons you list. Our specific details are not so important and you could easily identify who we are (or were). However my own rationale for separation and departure was not the media attracted catalyst of SSM etc. but that at its ‘core’, the denominational establishment would go to any lengths (nay stoop to any depths) to ensure their self perpetuation and that of their apostate institution. In other words the ‘Institution’ had become more important than God and the Gospel the thing that was revered and so in my eyes the CofS stood guilty of self worship – aka Idolatry – arguably the worst of all! We have no minister, we have no long term place of gathering, we miss those who could not make the break – but we do have much that is more important! If you fancied a move South we would certainly consider you!! You’d have to go some mind you to be better than your son Andrew who faithfully delivered a great sermon to us a Month or so ago!

    Keep the faith and keep the heid. Hamish

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Hamish – thanks – much appreciated. And I agree with what you say – especially about my son! May the Lord guide and help you – and if we can be of any assistance please let me know…we pray for you,


  3. Thank you David! I would agree wholeheartedly with your assessment. Sadly, it isn’t just the CoS here who struggle at varying levels with the same type of a postmodern re-invention of a satanic “gospel”. I see and hear many rumblings (not yet as overt) of this putrid poison in some contexts of Baptists colleagues and other evangelicals in Scotland. May God have mercy on us, and His kindness lead us to repentance. May the Lord raise up a great number of people across this great nation who are emboldened with the Spirit of God & equipped with the Word of God to not ashamed for the Gospel… for IT is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. May we be bold and strong to contend for the faith, once for all delivered to the saints.

  4. Thanks for this insightful piece David. Just sent this message to Scott McKenna:

    Dear Mr Mckenna

    It was with some astonishment that I viewed online a recent sermon dealing with Jesus’ death in which you strongly repudiated the idea that Jesus’ death was a substitutionary sacrifice.

    Your statements about the doctrine going back to Anselm and not the Scriptures are so erroneous and factually incorrect that it defies belief that a man of your evident learning can say such a thing with a straight face. Your definition of sacrifice as having nothing to do with sin is completely and diametrically opposed to the clear and plain teaching of Scripture in such passages as Leviticus and many, many more.

    You say that it is the doctrine of substitutionary atonement that is causing, and I quote, “damage” to the church. The truth is that the church is founded on, and thrives by, the historical fact of Christ’s substitutionary death, and the damage being done to the church is by the full-speed departure of the church from that truth as evidenced by your address. History tells us that the church has always been strongest and most vibrant when it has held close to this teaching and to the authority of the Scriptures in general. Indeed, the only places in the world where the church is growing today, even on the admission of many of its enemies, is where there church is most faithful to the plain teaching of Scripture that Christ died in the place of sinners, rising again on the third day.

    If you really think that in your own denomination, for example, it is this doctrine that is doing the damage, then I fear that you are not living in the real world. The tragic truth, with all respect, is that it is its own ministers who are bringing the house down around their own heads with the distortion and denial of the plain truths of Scripture. As I understand it, speaking as a non-presbyterian, in your ordination vows, you pledged agreement with the Westminster Confession of Faith with which you are now clearly in disagreement. Would the honest thing therefore not be to resign from your ministry?

    I will be praying for you that God may yet have mercy and be pleased to reveal the truth of his Word to you and yet spare you to believe and be truly saved and born again, for without that, in the words of God himself, you cannot see, let alone enter, the kingdom of heaven. I will also be praying for your parishioners who are, sitting under your ministry, being blinded by you to the truths they need to hear in order to be saved. Remember, sir, that in many respects as a practising minister of the church, God will to some degree hold you accountable for their souls.

  5. David you wrote

    ” I received a letter from a distraught member of a congregation that has left the C of S. She and all the other elderly people in that congregation have been told that although the parish minister will bury all and sundry in that parish, they will not bury anyone who has left the Kirk. That’s ‘liberal’ love in action! ”

    I wanted to make a comment on this particular part as, on the face of it, it shows the sort of bullying attitude we see from time to time. I am not sure who gave your correspondent this information or in what terms. If the minister did not leave the C of S and a member, or someone who resides in the parish, asks (I assume via relatives or in a will) that the parish minister conduct their service, then the Minister is expected to carry out a service as a requirement of the Third Article Declaratory which is enshrined in both Church and Civil Law.

    The principle involved here (which may or may not be good) has been used to require ministers to act against conscience in matter of baptism and marriages.

    If the position adopted has been expressed by a Presbytery Clerk then I think it should be challenged.

    I would, however, have thought that if people have left the C of S they would not want a C of S minister to conduct the funeral, unless it is a particular minister who is a friend. In that case a minister is free to conduct any funeral at the invitation of the family. This isn’t just legal nicety; it is pastoral good practice and I am concerned that the impression has been given that the C of S has any power to control who conducts funerals. If your contact wants more information privately then I am quite happy to give it off list

    In many ways this article is an excellent summary of the mess the C of S is in

    1. Neil,

      I think the concern is that they wanted to be buried from the church building they had used for many years and this was to be denied them. But thanks for the offer…I will pass it on…

  6. Great use of the bible to correct points of error David! That’s a compliment.

    While I agree with what you say and applaud your addressing of any false teaching with the principle of keeping every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ, demolishing arguments and pretenses that set themselves up against the knowledge of God, I am a little concerned.

    I feel discouraged on reading another post focused from you David on the Church of Scotland and making and implication that evangelicalism has the answers with truth. Is it any wonder that in the worship of the triune God there are three strands to churches, evangelical, charismatic and liberal. Evangelical with passion for truth, concern about sin yet an tendency towards legalism. Charismatic with embracing of gifts of the Spirit and temptation towards spiritism, and liberalism with and affinity with the Exodus narrative and inclination towards synchronism.

    Taking one point that was made about sin being an obstacle to our evangelism. For anyone with a brain, it will be obvious that this is an attempt to address the mantra “Jesus died for your sins, you must repent or you are going to hell”. Have you not critisised (rightly) so called street preachers in Perth for saying such about homosexuality as being a sin and hell being a place where homosexuals are destined for? It is an abomination to communicate the gospel as such.

    Liberals need evangelicals in order to keep them in check with truth, evangelicals need liberals in order to keep them in touch with the biblical narrative of freedom form slavery with love, and both need charismatics for connection and belonging with the Holy Spirit.

    Yes the truth sets you free but the truth need to be applied introspectively as well as to “the other” and truth without love is like a clashing gong or a clanging cymbal, not the “most excellent” way.


  7. come back Calvin; without him the Cof S does not have theological coherence. Calvin believed in the sovereignty of God in all things including the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The current C of S wallows in semi Pelgianism and O grade Marxism. The attack on substitution makes these cosmic events a quirk of history, and rids man of his joy of gratitude to the Saviour. It’s all in “There is a green hill far away”: I dare the soi disant progressives to ban that!

    1. I would be interesting if Calvin were to somehow return. Amusing even. David is right in that the Church of Scotland is perhaps struggling because it is trying to be all things to all people. This inevitably means that it doesn’t do a good enough job of attracting those it perhaps should be trying to attract.

      As Calvin noted – “Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He has determined in Himself, what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some and eternal death for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say he is predestinated either to life or to death.”

      Why the Church of Scotland, or indeed any Christian church based on the theology Calvin wrote, seeks ways to accommodate everyone when its clear that God as created some of us to never be accommodated seems to be counter to the message of God. I am a sinner as that is the role God has chosen for me at this time. It may be (although I dont think so as I am not a believer but lets role with this theology) that I may come to be Saved and all will be good for my immortal soul but why be an evangelising church when Calvin teaches that God already has a plan for all of us.

  8. Hi Dorothy, It was good to have you, Billy & Irene with us over the weekend – we did enjoy your company.  Thanks for all you did – folks are excited about the prospect of a kids holiday club. I’ve attached David Robertson’s blog with the link to Scott McKenna’s blasphemous sermon.  I watched it and squirmed this morning – the Lord have mercy on him and on us. Cheers, Andy   From: The Wee Flea To: andownie@yahoo.co.uk Sent: Friday, 20 March 2015, 15:15 Subject: [New post] Ten Reasons Why the Church of Scotland is in Decline #yiv1377259042 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1377259042 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1377259042 a.yiv1377259042primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1377259042 a.yiv1377259042primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1377259042 a.yiv1377259042primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1377259042 a.yiv1377259042primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1377259042 WordPress.com | theweeflea posted: “Its March and the time when Kings go to war.  I don’t intend to go to war but I am very burdened for the state of the whole church of Christ in Scotland and so over the next few weeks as we lead up to the General Assemblies, I thought I would return to th” | |

  9. Thank you David. I too watched the Video with incredulity including the take on history which from my limited knowledge, is eccentric. Pilate – the Roman Authority – would have let Him off.
    You have put the issues squarely and fairly.


  10. Thank you for drawing this to broader attention. It is an extreme example of the liberal cancer which is destroying the life of the Church of Scotland. To me the arguments do not even make sense, let alone border on blasphemy. But as a CofS member, albeit attending the Free Church, I genuinely do not know how to respond: is leaving weakness, or staying complicity? Answers on a postcard!

  11. Wahay! Two grown men arguing that they’re both right and the other is wrong when they have no benchmark by which to judge! Robbo will probably claim the Bible’s on his side, when he means Calvin’s interpretation of the Bible. But at least McKenna’s so affected he’s fun to watch. Calvinists are always no fun. 🙂

    What they don’t seem to know is that both their ecclesial communions started around 500 years ago, based on the Bible of the Christian Church they split from, but took with them. They then removed some books which contained the ideas they didn’t like, like Purgatory (Maccabees).

    Luckily, the post-Christian Hebrew Old Testament they used (c. 100 AD) fitted the bill as it cut out exactly what they wanted to cut out (only 39 Books), so they changed to that version, although the Church up until the Reformers had always relied on the 46 Books of the Greek Septuagint (c. 250-150 BC). But then also, to Luther’s chagrin, he was made to keep the Epistle of James in after he had tried to take it out as he had defined his doctrine of ‘Faith Alone’ and keeping James showed that it was contrary to Scripture when read as literally as they read everything else (James 2.14ff). (Bit embarrassing that!)

    After that, all the split-offs twisted the Bible to their own leader’s interpretation, so now there are thousands of ‘Bible Alone’ or ‘Full Gospel’ denominational interpretations which all contradict each other, and so are not ‘Alone’ or ‘Full’: but what Christian Smith has termed ‘Pervasive Interpretive Pluralism’. They can no longer claim agreement even on essentials, now most of them are saying homosexuality’s fine – even within Presbyterianism.

    The Bible has been so sliced and diced, it’s utterly meaningless now, or alternatively, every interpretation has it’s contradictory one which is just as legitimate as everyone’s allowed to let the Spirit tell them what a passage means. Even the Adventist, Mormon and JW interpretations are correct as they’re just the extreme grandchildren of John Nelson Darby who – perfectly legitimately within a ‘Bible Alone’ view – reject all the Church Fathers (as they’re not Biblical) as they believe the Church fell into apostasy immediately the last apostle died, so who cares about the Trinity?

    To them the Trinity is nonsense made up later. It’s not Biblical on their reading, and they’re within their rights to do so, just as Robbo is entitled to his view. In fact, JWs and Mormons, if anything, are more consistent and truer to a ‘Bible Alone’ view as they reject *everything* outside the Bible. Mormons have their own ‘Catechism’ – Doctrines and Covenants – just like Robbo, so who’s got the authority to adjudicate if they don’t rely on human reason or votes? The Bible Believers I know, like the Mormons, rely on a ‘burning in the bosom’ – or what they call ‘Spirit conviction’ which amounts to the same thing – that their interpretation is correct, too.

    Fight on, me boys, and have fun! (But try not to kill each other!) Remember, you’re both right in within your own frame of reference, so be happy! just keep on collecting people who agree with you. Birds of a feather, flock together, as they say. But sadly, that’s no indicator of truth as many people follow weird stuff…

    1. Quite amusing James…if only we had the qisdom whose only frame of reference is themselves!

      For ministers of the Word, our frame of reference is, or should be, the Bible. THe Mormons are not in any sense bible believers.

      Next time you want to mock and assert your own superiority, you would avoid making a fool of your self if you bothered to learn some history, theology, philosophy and you know awkward things like facts….but thanks for your amusing contribution!

  12. I paid my first visit to Sandyford Henderson Memorial church in Finnieston, Glasgow. When reciting scripture they kept changing the words. Ad libing at times. I was sat next to an elder as was becoming agitated. The elder asked was I ok. I replied “they are changing the words. And here, on your bulletin you have changed the words to the Lords prayer to that which is in the KJV bible. He said to me “its only words”. I was shocked and left.

  13. im not a member of the Church of Scotland but the RC church, which is also in decline, though im not sure if its as bad. are you sure the decline doesnt stem from decades ago when the Church of Scotland turned over its schools to the state system and instead educated children in Sunday school? Would it not have been better to keep Protestant schools as Protestant schools, i.e. faith schools the same as RC schools, and immigrants of other religions could still have sent their children to them or to RC schools, but Protestant schools would never have become non -denominational? its ok to educate children in Sunday school and have them in Boys and Girls Brigade and other youth groups BUT you aren’t giving them anything tangible to hang on to in a practical sense, e.g. in an RC school, the faith isn’t just taught and meat excluded from school dining halls on Ash Wednesday, prayers said etc., it’s a lifestyle. For example, if an RC school did a production of Grease, lyrics such as ‘lousy with virginity’ wouldn’t be allowed, i noticed one school had ‘lousy with vitality’ instead. in biology and sex education, the Church’s teaching on morality is taught. I’ve seen photos of pupils being taught how to use condoms in non-denominational schools, that would never be allowed in an RC school. Pre marital sex would be condemned irrespective of whether a couple was engaged or had only met and had one-night stands. Shows and plays would be wholesome, the Sound of Music is perfect for an RC school to do as a show, as it has family values. I once read about a young man who attended a local non denominational school, and boasted he’d had hundreds of different partners. ive never heard of a former pupil of an RC school behave like that, i certainly tried to hold on to many of the values i learned at an RC school. i heard of a boy at another non denominational school who was discriminated against although he was well behaved as his brother had been badly behaved and it was assumed he’d be the same, yet when i was at high school, a boy from a very underprivileged background without socks or gym shoes and a tee shirt too small for him the wrong colour demonstrated his prowess in the gym as an example to us, without any comment from the teacher re his appearance. values of justice, wholesomeness and morality are very much part of the life of an RC school, and preparing children for First Communion is very much part of primary school life, and is a family get together. it’s something central to RC faith. yet the Church of Scotland does not include children at the Communion table. I’m sure if they had a first Communion (in keeping with the teaching that the bread and wine are symbolic) and parents and Godparents got together, with boys and girls dressed up (differently for girls not like little brides as the reason for that is tied with the RC teaching on marriage and communion), but with a pretty dress or summer frock it would give the children something to look forward to. the RC church has a 3 way tie – the school, the family and the church or parish. if the Kirk had kept its schools, i am sure the family-school-church bond would have stayed. faith isnt abstract, it’s a lifestyle. by involving school all year round and not just services at Christmas, Easter and summer, and occasional visits by a chaplain, you give the youngsters a tangible faith all their lives, not just something for an hour on a sunday to leave when they are teenagers. i did volunteer work for the RC church but when i left school although i’d given it up i still went to church. Maybe if the kirk and other Protestant denominations tried to reclaim the non denominational schools for themselves we might see a revival in all Reformed churches.

  14. As an evangelical Pastor I can see here a masterpiece about what is happening in many denominations, not just in C o S, you re doing a good job, thanks for your blog!!!

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