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The Church of Scotland Heresy Hunters

The Church of Scotland Heresy Hunters.

 A Church of Scotland minister has found himself in trouble during Britain’s General Election. The Rev. Richard Cameron from Glasgow appeared on the news heckling Jeremy Corbyn and has paid the price. He has been suspended by the Church of Scotland and put on ‘administrative leave’. Other than this being one of those election stories that blows up one day and is usually forgotten the next, this is a story that reveals a great deal about both church and society in Scotland today.

As soon as the comments went on mainstream news, the Labour press team went to work.   They searched Cameron’s social media and found what they considered to be gold. Immediately Owen Jones and others started a Twitter storm about the Rev being a ‘far-right’, ‘hate filled scum bag, homophobic and racist’.

Given the publicity, I did wonder if Richard Cameron was a somewhat unbalanced eccentric who was getting what he deserved. But I also reflected on the fact that social media is a vicious hotbed of lies, and our dumbed-down society is very quick to jump on any bandwagon and just accept as truth, accusations which are made without foundation. After all I have found myself being accused of the very same things.   So I decided to investigate and I looked at his Twitter feed. Now let me stress that I do not know Richard and therefore cannot and will not make any comment or judgement on his ministry, personality or character. I am just commenting on what he has been accused of on the basis of the evidence we actually have.  I must admit I warmed to him when I found that the Humanist Society had complained to the C of A about his critique of them – ironic given the C of S’s unholy alliance with the Humanists over education!

  • Heckling Jeremy Corbyn –

He is certainly guilty of that.

“Do you think the man that’s going to be prime minister of this country should be a terrorist sympathiser?”

“Who’s going to be the first terrorist to be invited to the House of Commons when you’re prime minister?”

But is that a crime? Is it a disciplinable offence in terms of church ministry? It may not be polite. It may not be wise. But would the Reverend have been in trouble with the Church of Scotland if he heckled Boris Johnson or Donald Trump?   I suspect he would have been made a saint! What a hero! Speaking truth to power!

Screenshot 2019-11-16 14.10.04I find it revealing that the man who points out Corbyn has expressed sympathy for terrorists, (the IRA, Hamas, Hezbollah), is the one who is being pilloried. The fact that we could have a Prime Minister who has supported terrorists in the past is conveniently ignored by the Church.Attacking Mr Corbyn in public may not have been the wisest move, but Richard Cameron does not deserve to be suspended for that.

But there is more.   He has been accused of being Islamaphobic and homophobic on social media. I went through some of his social media and this is what I found.

Most of it is balanced and what you would expect from a church minister who is interested in the Gospel. Screenshot 2019-11-16 14.23.53Interestingly the number one subject he tweets about is in support of the Palestinians in Gaza and against the Israeli government – ironically something that he and Corbyn have in common. It’s fascinating that he is not being investigated by the C of S for his anti-Israel tweets.   But then that position would be held by many within the inner circles. I note also that he tweeted a number of posts citing Bonhoeffer and condemning Nazism – and yet, such is the perversity and irrationality of our society, that Mr Cameron is considered to be a Nazi!

However in the eyes of the world (and some within the church) he has committed two heresies.

1) Islamaphobia –

Firstly he has criticised Islam. All I could find were the following comments.

Terrorism is ‘a problem that Islam needs to deal with’.

– It’s true.   Terrorism IS a problem that Islam needs to deal with. Many Muslims recognise this and are embarrassed by it. Whatever else they say in public, all Western governments realise that Islamic terrorism is a major threat. Is it Islamaphobic to say that? It would be Islamaphobic to say that all Muslims were terrorists or terrorist supporters. But to say that terrorism is not a problem that Islam needs to deal with is to be dishonest, dumb and dangerous.

A full-face veil was “oppressive and unBritish”.

There are many feminists who would agree with Mr Cameron on this.   Personally I don’t think that the full veil is necessarily oppressive – although it is ‘unBritish’ in the sense that it was not part of British culture. Perhaps as we become more Islamic this will be a regular feature of UK culture? But I’m not sure that someone should be disciplined because they express that view. Maybe I missed it but where was the Church of Scotland statement in support of the women who have been jailed for 55 years in Iran for not wearing a veil?

“The Prophet Mohammed was a violent man”

Does anyone actually doubt that this is true? Mohammed was violent. Islam spread through violence (as well as other reasons).   That is not the same as saying all Muslims are violent, nor that there were not good things that Mohammed said and did, but it is very difficult to argue that Mohammed was not violent.   Are people seriously going to argue he never killed anyone, or that he never advocated killing? Read Tom Holland’s ‘In the Shadow of the Sword’. Or better still read the Koran.

“The best way to defeat Islam is to preach Christ”. 

Why is this considered Islamaphobic? I assume that it is because these people say they don’t want to defeat Islam? Why not? Do they want the UK to become an Islamic country? Do they even know what Islam is? They seem very confused – they think that Islam is a race – which is why they have called Richard Cameron racist, despite there being not one whit of evidence that he has said racist things. If we have moved to a situation where even to criticise Islam is to be a racist then I and many others will be called racist.   The trouble is not that Islam is not a race, but rather that Islam is not just a religion. Islam is both a religion and a political system – there is no separation of ‘church and state’ in Islam.   Douglas Murray in his The Strange Death of Europe points out the dangerous consequences of not understanding what Islam actually is.

But what is worse in this example is that the Church of Scotland seems unaware that the truth is that the only way to defeat Islam is not the sword, or violence, or politics or appeasement – but the preaching of the good news of Christ. This is precisely what their minister said – and yet now he is suspended for preaching the truth that they are supposed to preach. I get the secular world not getting it – but the church not understanding or practicing its own doctrine?

2) Homophobia.

The one tweet concerning this I found from Rev Cameron was this one:

“Incest and homosexuality are both unnatural. Both cause harm by breaking sensibly held taboos.” 

Cue outrage/horror/condemnation and the hanging mob in full swing. Again I can understand this – given the idolisation and absolutisation of the new sexual ideology amongst our civic and media elites. I also don’t think that in today’s environment it was the wisest comment to put online.

But mostly I question what the church is up to.   Does the Church of Scotland condemn and disown the Apostle Paul because he wrote this ‘homophobic’ comment?

Rom. 1:26     Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

 The biblical teaching is quite clear. Sex is sacred and is to be kept within marriage – and marriage is between a man and a woman. Sex outside marriage whether heterosexual or homosexual is wrong. Of course our society with its newfound sexual philosophy thinks this is outrageous, just as the Greco/Roman/Pagan society thought that Christian teaching was outrageous. But is our societies regressive sexual philosophy really an improvement on the Christian teaching? Has it resulted in a happier, better and more liberated society? The evidence suggests otherwise. But what on earth is the Church doing proclaiming the philosophies of the current zeitgeist and condemning those who proclaim the teaching of Christ?

Screenshot 2019-11-17 07.57.03

These are pretty words. But largely meaningless until we know what they mean. Here we have a minister who may not have been the wisest in a few of his social media tweets or his heckling of Mr Corbyn.  But did he really say anything wrong? What precisely is the Church of Scotland objecting to? And why have they thrown him to the wolves? Because make no mistake that is what they have done.

The Church of Scotland bureaucracy is ruthless and merciless when it comes to dealing with its own perceived heretics but totally merciful when it comes to the real ones. You can condemn biblical Christianity as much as you want – you can deny the divinity of Christ, the cross, the resurrection, the truth of the Scriptures, and the Church will not bat an eyelid.  They can ‘take seriously’ complaints about Islamaphobia, but will laugh off any suggestion of anti-Christian teaching from some of their own ministers.  You are more likely to be disciplined for supporting the Brexit party (and thus going against the Kirk’s new doctrine that being in the EU is what God wants) than you are for denying the atonement!

If you dare to question any of the doctrines of our current civic elites then beware – the Scottish Inquisition will put you on ‘administrative leave’ and hang you out to dry. I have been around long enough to know how ‘121’ works – press releases, hints, and a carefully orchestrated campaign against their own colleague is the modus operandi. The result is inevitable – their victim’s life is made miserable, the mob is stirred up and any civic connection he has is removed. In this instance, Rev Cameron has been removed as a chaplain of his local school.

The Evangelicals ‘I am Spartacus’ Moment?

And what about the evangelicals? They are now allowed to be moderators in the Kirk – they have a seat at the table. But what difference does that make if they don’t get any say in the menu? So here are a couple of questions for evangelicals who remain within the Kirk – do you agree with Romans 1 and the biblical teaching about sex and sexuality? Do you agree that the only way to defeat Islam is to proclaim Christ? If you do – are you prepared to say it in public? Or will you just leave your colleague to the wolves? When will your ‘I am Spartacus’ moment come? I recall when Willie Philipp and the Tron were thrown to the wolves it was some evangelicals who led the charge!  It is still a matter of astonishment to me that after writing in defence of the Tron I received an anonymous letter form 15 evangelicals within the C of S.

Let me put it another way – when will you stand up for Christ in public? I hear lots of fine words about being a ‘witness within’ and having an ‘influence’. But what if the influence is the other way round? What if evangelicalism has sold its soul to the extent that the Kirk comes before Christ, and appeasing the progressive/regressives within society comes before being a prophetic voice to the nation? What if, instead of speaking truth to power, the church has allowed power to undermine its role as the foundation and pillar of the truth?(1 Timothy 3:15)  (Incidentally, the temptation to accommodate truth in order to preserve our own position is one that all of us face and can succumb to – including the Free Church).

I know the howls of outrage that will follow comments like this (or more likely moans of being misunderstood) and I realise we all have a tendency to be defensive about our positions and offensive about others.   But take a deep breath…stop and think.   The Church has suspended a minister (and briefed against him) because he questioned a politician’s well known terrorist sympathies, said that Islam could only be defeated by the Gospel of Jesus and repeated the Bible’s teaching on sexuality. But when a minister left his wife and went to live with another man, the Kirk changed its doctrine to suit the situation. When a minister denied the cross and said that the idea of Christ dying for our sins was barbaric and scandalous the Kirk pulled out all the stops to defend him, and even gave him a column in their denominational magazine!    The Scottgate Tapes – A Revealing Insight into the Current State of the Church of Scotland

Is anyone surprised that the Church of Scotland is declining at an increasing rate? Ichabod.

I leave the final word with the Word.

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14

The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

“ ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. Ezekiel 34:1-10

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.” Jesus – Matthew 7:15-16

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.  Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” 2 Peter 2:1-2

 

PS.  Although I don’t know Richard Cameron – I can only imagine the pressure he is now under.  Let’s ensure that we pray for him and his church – and indeed the whole denomination – that the glory will return to the Church of Scotland.

Quantum 68 – The One With Bush Fires; Morales; Spain; Hong Kong; Billinge; Richard Cameron; South Australia and Prostitution; Self Partnering; Frozen; Students and Gender..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 comments

  1. It is worth remembering that a whole bunch of CofS ministers shouted slurs at Margaret Thatcher when she visited the General Assembly back in the day – funnily enough, said ministers did not face any sort of canonical penalty!

  2. I’m glad you spotted this fellow’s news story too, his 15 minutes of fame, in times of turmoil. I am also planning to comment.

    I am glad you addressed exhortation to loyalty to Christ, towards professing orthodoxly Christian brethren still in the Kirk, although my own comments on this affair, if I get around to making them, are more likely to be in defence of the core values of liberal democracy such as natural justice that such a political, summary disciplining of a presbyterian minister, apparently without due process, has attacked.

  3. David, as a now retired CofS minister, I completely support all you have written here. I was a late entry to ministry after my professional career and was astounded when my ordained lecturers denied everything I had previously believed and still do.
    I have long preached that the CofS has to die on the vine, in order that true Christian life and Holy Spirit can be ‘resurrected’ in Scotland. I am very much ashamed to be connected now with the Church of Scotland.
    I have witnessed first-hand the Church’s appalling treatment of ministers who are accused of doing wrong, and at times this verged on being inhumane! Yes, the CofS! You are almost lauded if you are a heretic!

    More power to your pen. With every blessing. Brian Webster.

  4. What qualifies someone as being a heresy hunter? Do they award gold stars when you achieve the requirements? It seems that they are loud, judgmental, and aggressive in action. No one seems to ask, “On what authority do you make your claims?” I have been attacked in Sunday school on two occasions for ‘heresy’. The heresy hunter, same person each time, is someone who attended seminary, but was never ordained – counseled to leave with finishing his degree, never admitting why. Maybe it was that he was a heresy hunter and not cut out for pastoral care.

    1. ” It seems that they are loud, judgmental, and aggressive in action.”

      Heckling is not exactly a friendly behaviour either. Nor is it meant to be.

      Somebody needs to interview Corbyn quietly but firmly on TV regarding his reported stance that you cannot make peace without talking to the enemy: and those who think you can need to be challenged on how they would do it. We have spent decades trying the violent alternatives, with results the whole world can see.

      And reading our host’s long bible quote: it is no use hunting down the “false prophets”, while voting for the sheep strippers and applauding their misdeeds. What sort of a country do we live in when Jews feel unsafe with one Party and Muslims with the other? Nor do even those safely counting eight British great-grandparents feel particularly protected – violence is simply life as we know it now.

      I live in one of the safest of safe Conservative constituencies, and their Governments treat us as contemptuously as any other loyal customer who can be taken for granted. They are very lucky (or blessed?) that Corbyn is where he is. But unless they succeed in creating a literal, rather than an effective, one-party State one day they will find their lease on power as fragile as any other ruler’s in history. And humanity’s judgement is a lot less merciful than our Lord’s…

  5. I googled “Scotstoun Parish Church” website and discovered that Richard Cameron is a converted minister who believes what the Bible teaches and who preaches it faithfully – see his personal testimony and his online sermons covering a wide range of scriptural topics.
    It appears the CofS no longer wants men of this calibre who hold to the inspired Word of God. I feel sure that God will use his considerable gifts elsewhere if he is ejected by his denomination. Their loss will be others gain.

  6. I hope many of your readers will do what I have done and email Richard Cameron – who I don’t know personally – and encourage him. Why not also write to Colin Sinclair, Moderator of C of S and a professing evangelical and ask him to publicly support his fellow Minister and denounce the actions of the church hierarchy. Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

  7. Now let me stress that I do not know Richard and therefore cannot and will not make any comment or judgement on his ministry, personality or character.

    And yet, just a few sentences previous you wrote this ….

    Given the publicity, I did wonder if Richard Cameron was a somewhat unbalanced eccentric who was getting what he deserved.

    Maybe you just don’t see it, David? You really should get yourself a proof reader before you post.

    1. I would suggest that you get some help in logic and comprehension. There is nothing inconsistent in admitting – this is what I wondered and then explaining that I was not in a position to make any kind of judgement based upon personal knowledge. Just take your time….

      1. Yes, but you had already made a character judgement.
        Read it again carefully David.

        Just take your time ….

      2. Again you are struggling….my point was simply that I had no right to make a character judgement as I did not know the character. I don’t go by media portrayals…

  8. Hi David, it’s the ‘heretic’ himself here! Thanks so much for your excellent article. Thanks so much for your support, encouragement and prayers. For every vile message I’ve received, I’ve also received an encouraging one from believers all round the globe. I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. My wife and I are beginning to recover from a state of shock. It appears that the Lord may be bringing my 19 years in Scotstoun to an end. We’ll see. Whatever, I remain confident in the God of grace. With Job I say, ‘The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’Come

    1. Thanks Richard – as I said in the article – I don’t know you and so could not personally vouch for you. I just went on the available evidence I had and my heart went out to you. You have been treated appallingly by the Church. May the Lord grant you strength and grace…

  9. It’s probably worth noting that many (if not even a majority) of organisations will, on receipt of complaints about an individual in authority, suspend that individual from active duty whilst the complaints are investigated. According to a report in the Daily Record, George Cowie (Presbytery Clerk) said “It doesn’t mean he’s been found guilty of any wrongdoing, it’s just to take Richard out of a very difficult situation while matters are ongoing”

    I think this is an eminently sensible response in order to protect the congregation from any harassment from the public.

    Until we see the results of the deliberations of the Kirk, I feel it’s somewhat preemptory to assume that they’re going to uphold any (or all) of the complaints.

    1. Thats the theory. In practice they brief the press and hang their man out to dry. On the other hand when one of their ministers is accused of heresy (for denying the cross) they circle the wagons and protect him. Go figure!

    2. David is right. I and others have raised complaints with CofS about Ministers preaching heresy and they are not suspended but vigorously defended. Preach truth and you’re out. No faithful church would even gave to investigate the comments this brother made in social media – he spoke logically and biblically. There was nothing to investigate.

  10. …”while matters are ongoing.” How about applying “nothing about him without him” and asking if he wants to be “taken out,” asking whether it is indeed a very difficult situation “for him” (as opposed to CoS theological and political trajectory).
    How about applying the rules of natural justice, and of equity (bearing in mind the Church in history was the source of the rules of equity)?
    Does he need representation, an advocate of flesh and blood? Or is the process in camera?

  11. If Jews as a group in UK and elsewhere were as educationally undistinguished and, as it necessarily follows, poor as say, Afro – Caribbeans , then Corbyn would not be anti – Semitic.

    Corbyn’s Marxist – based moral certainty reveals the truism that the more uncivilised the man , the more confident he is in the matter of discerning exactly what is correct and what is societal error.

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