Christianity Politics Scotland

WHAT’S THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE? – EN

This article was first published in the January Evangelicals Now….

WHAT’S THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE?

‘I was, I think, the last speaker, and after dwelling on the encroachments made by the Court of Session, confirmed by the final judgement of the House of Lords, and on the manner in which we had been treated in Parliament, where the voices of the Scottish Members had been altogether overborne by the English majority, I said, on the spur of the moment, that such injustice was enough to justify Scotland in demanding the repeal of the Union. With that, to my surprise, and somewhat to my consternation, the meeting rose as one man, waving hats and handkerchiefs, and cheering again and again. No doubt the enthusiastic feelings of the people assisted our object, but I took care not to speak of repeal of the Union at our subsequent meetings.’ *

Figure ImageReverend Walter Wood of Elie, describing his visit to the south of Dumfriesshire in the winter of 1842/3 – demonstrating that the question of Scottish independence is not an entirely new one in the church!

 

At the end of November 2022, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Government did not have a unilateral right to hold another independence referendum. This was in response to a case brought by the Scottish Government which sought to circumnavigate the clause in the Scotland Act which requires, under Section 30, an agreement from the Westminster Parliament for such a referendum to be held. In 2014 such an agreement was given and a ‘once in a generation’ referendum was held which although eventually clearly won by the Unionists was nevertheless far closer than had been anticipated.

Given the court ruling, I think it is highly unlikely that Scotland will have another such referendum within the next ten years and unless there are exceptional changes (which given the current state of flux in the world may be likely) I do not expect Scotland to become independent in my lifetime. There will be lots of noise, lots of argument, lots of speculation, but things will largely remain the same.

What does all this have to do with the church? Should evangelicals in the United Kingdom have an opinion? What does God have to say about all this?

Some Christians think it is obvious – Christianity is for freedom, and it is good for a nation to be free. ‘Know the truth and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32). Others argue that it is wrong to seek to change things – one man wrote to me, furious that I had voted for independence in 2014, citing Deuteronomy 19:14, ‘You shall not move your neighbour’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess’. It’s not helpful when Christians quote Scripture out of context in order to support their own political views!

Another doctor told me that Britain was the lost tribe of Israel and the British throne the eternal throne promised to Israel! Without going to that strange extreme, it is true that one of the founding pillars of the Union of the United Kingdom was Christianity – specifically Protestant Christianity. Perhaps it will be the case that the removal of that pillar will result in the disintegration of the UK?

In a world where politics has replaced religion for many, it is disappointing when Christians fall into the trap of tying their Christianity in with their politics. Of course, our Christianity will influence our political views, but the notion that there is a specific Christian political view is unbiblical. I am really surprised at how many people treat this as a moral and doctrinal issue. During the 2014 referendum several people wrote to me and said that I was going against God’s word because I am for divorce (I struggle to see why the Bible’s teaching about divorce and marriage has anything to do with constitutional arrangements of nation states), that I am playing into the hands of the secularists, and questioned both my intelligence and my spiritual condition.

Today I don’t think I would vote the same way as I did in 2014. With the increasing soft authoritarianism of the SNP, the desire to leave one Union only to join a larger one, the way that the Scottish Government now governs, with its increasing incompetence and authoritarian progressivism, I now look back on 2014 and think that we not only dodged a bullet, but we also dodged a bomb.

None of this is to argue for my particular political position – I would like an independent, republican Scotland out of the EU (which makes me even more of a minority in Scotland than card-carrying Calvinists!) – but rather to point out that Christians can hold to different political views without demonising each other, not least because we know that the ultimate need of our country is not to be met through political solutions.

In my former congregation, St Peters Free Church in Dundee (founded after the Disruption in 1843 mentioned at the beginning of this article), there was a wide variety of political opinions, from Northern Irish unionists to a former leader of the SNP, from Tories to socialists, from Liberal Democrat to Green. In another congregation I had an elder who was a fervent Labour supporter, another a Conservative and yet another a Nationalist. We all lived and worshipped (and argued!) together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Is that not the way it should be? Let’s not make the divisions of politics a cause of division in the body of Christ.

Annals of the Disruption; consisting mainly of extracts from the autograph narratives of Ministers who left the Scottish Establishment in 1843. Rev. Thomas Brown. Published by Maclaren and Macniven, Edinburgh, 1878.

A Positive Case for Real Scottish Independence and a New Political Party

The End of Scottish Independence?

 

6 comments

  1. Thanks David. Yes as I see it independence is a judgement call. There is not a moral or spiritual issue at the heart of it. Personally, Ive never been persuaded Scotland should sever itself from the union and given the speed at which it has gone down a woke direction, as a Christian I am glad we still have the sanity of the wider union., though for how long it will show restraint remains to be seen.

    I appreciate your insight politically, however, I am concerned how ‘political’ Christians have become. America iis a good example of how blurred the lines between faith and politics become . At times you can see why even if it seems mistaken.

  2. A helpful and thoughtful article.
    Agree main point is that as believers in Christ that we need to show Him to the world in our fellowship and unity in Him, not being divided among ourselves by worldly issues.
    Please can we have an independent republican England, outside the EU, as well!

  3. Thanks. A book you recommended is a gem: ‘The Power and the Glory’. It’s interesting how the UPC, which sent Rev John Ross to Manchuria, seem to have been very much into avoiding frictions around race or national identity (or language group). His translation of the NT into Korean seems to have had quite an impact. Amazing when flying in to London to see the metropolis of 10,000,000 below the wing tip: similar to the Presbyterian numbers in modern Korea. Odd how the media fail to spot some stories!

  4. The case for independence has to be made on economic and social grounds. I am certainly not convinced on either basis.

    However the “kind” of independence is foreshadowed in the current incompetence of the SNP. More of concern is that Scottish politics is basically godless and anti Christian, (with a few rare exceptions.) Given the current fear of many church leaders to directly criticise the lack of moral integrity in our politicians, or issue insipid statements that make no reference to God, Scripture, or God’s moral law, the future does not look bright.

    Hopefully the Free Church of Scotland will issue a clear statement on the Establishment Principle, at least in its softer form that the nation is morally bound by God’s law and Christ’s rule, and the State has a duty to preserve and protect the Christian Church.

  5. Independent, and run by by a bunch of atheistic, anti-Bible nazis, who won’t accept the result of a democratic vote, and not to mention what they are indoctorating into our innocent children ?? Under the snp. No thanks.

  6. Thank you for this David. Many “personal” opinions can be influenced by so many different life’s experiences. I would now rarely share my political views…not least with Christian’s sadly. There is so much in politics today that should concern us enough to unite us in fervent prayer, overriding the detail of our personal views, for the sordid road our nation is travelling…not least for the “lost” of today, and all that threatens the freedom and sanity of the generations to come. 💔🙏😥

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