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Free Church pulls out of talks with Kirk


In the context of the current indecision and confusion within the Church of Scotland's relating to sexuality, the Free Church of Scotland has served notice on the Kirk to the effect that regular bi-annual talks between representatives from both denominations are now suspended.


Free ChurchAN announcement last week (18 Nov 2009) states that the Free Church of Scotland has decided to suspend its regular discussions with the Church of Scotland. These biannual talks involved representatives of both denominations and had been taking place over the past 5 years.
According to the FC web site: "They involved a frank but friendly exchange on the theological issues which divided the two denominations, along with an acknowledgement of the good relations which exist in many localities between congregations of both churches."

However, the Free Church has said that, in the light of the uncertainty over the Kirk’s position on homosexuality following the induction of an allegedly gay minister earlier this year, which appeared to be sanctioned by their General Assembly, it cannot for the time being continue “as if nothing had happened.” The decision was communicated at a recent meeting between the representatives of both churches and accepted with regret.

Rev. Iver Martin, Convener of the Free Church Ecumenical Relations Committee, said:

 “Suspending the talks, whilst regrettable, was the most tangible way of expressing the Free Church’s discomfort with the failure of the Church of Scotland to take a thoroughly Biblical stand on the place of marriage between one man and one woman.”

However the Free Church has also affirmed that it continues to value and encourage the close relationship that there is between congregations of both denominations in many areas of Scotland.

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Comment: The move is unsurprising in the light of the current crisis within the Church of Scotland which has left Bible-believing leaders within the denomination unsure of how to proceed.

Confusion within the Kirk

There are a number of different responses across the evangelical spectrum within the Kirk. Some are actively planning an 'exit strategy', others are operating as a de facto 'church-within-a-church'. Still others are in a 'wait and see situation' whilst a number would see a resolution via action on the committees and within the institutional mechanisms of the Church of Scotland.
Those least likely to do anything at the moment are those who are either in training or at the start or end of their ministries. Also ministers from across the age spectrum who have recently been appointed to new charges are not well-placed to embark on any action that could be upsetting to and divisive within their respective congregations.

Any Church of Scotland ministers who might contemplating a new home in the Free Church would have to come to terms with the prevailing cessationist theology; and with the 'unaccompanied psalms only' policy within the latter, and the extent of the contention within the Free Church over this issue. The words 'jumping, frying pan and fire' come to mind.

Meanwhile the liberals within the Church of Scotland who are driving the sexuality agenda can afford to sit back and watch the confusion within the evangelical ranks.

The battle between institutional unity and biblical fidelity


Last week the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America became the latest denomination to be rocked to its core over the issue of homosexual clergy after a vote in August to allow sexually-active gay and lesbian pastors.

The strains across these denominations relate to institutional mindsets in both camps which place a disproportionate need on maintaining the machinery, structures and buildings associated with their denomination, whilst on matters of doctrine and biblical fidelity the divisions are fundamental and – without a mightly intervention from God – irreconcilable.

Careers, status, power, money, buildings and empires are at stake so what should be a straightforward matter becomes hugely complex. One is given to wonder how God sees it all.

Christians Together, 22/11/2009

Feedback:
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Rosemary Cameron 25/11/2009 23:45
I agree with our guest that we must show compassion to our brothers and sisters when they err, and sometimes that compassion comes in the form of breaking off communication in order to show the serious nature of the error. In my opinion, the CofS has strayed so far from the word of God as to make it impossible for the Free Church to continue in dialogue with any integrity. I hope that the breakdown in talks will bring the CofS to its collective senses but I am not convinced that it will. Very sad indeed.
Peter Carr (Guest) 26/11/2009 11:16
I am with Alec (who at least is willing to semi identify who he is)! Much of what goes on in churches, and particularly behind the scenes is not biblical, and actually has much cringe factor attached. Alec gives an excellent example of this with the Edinburgh minister/manse.

When we get involved in human wisdom, it proves a sad sideshow and distraction to God's wisdom (cf. 1 Cor 2).
Guest (Guest) 26/11/2009 11:56
I am no scholar and indeed do not deserve to put my name to anything, who am I am nothing without Christ

But this is a serious situation, if we do not have compassion then how can we forgive? is the danger here, not adhering to the teaching of the Bible? Possibly failing at the first hurdle? Then we are going down a path that will be very hard to get off, and will affect our children and our children's children
adhere to the teaching to the Galatians church particularly c6, , Paul when dealing with a very serious situation which divided the church in Galatia had such compassion, we should at the very least see that these issues are not new and have disrupted the witness of the Church for centuries, the humbling fact is that at the end of it all it is by grace, we all make mistakes and errors and we all must be reinstated when we go astray, this can take the form of expulsion but not non communication, these are difficult times, splitting will only bring casualties and weaken the Gospel message. do we believe that Christ is coming back for His bride, its time to bear one another's burdens
Gal 6:1, 2 hear the word of God
Peter Carr 26/11/2009 13:16
I am no scholar and indeed do not deserve to put my name to anything, who am I am nothing without Christ"

Really? I would have thought that integrity and transparency were also part of the mix of aligning ourselves with Christ.

However, that aside. It has been apparent from the inception of the church, and particularly since the Reformation, that schisms etc are sometimes unavoidable, and actually are necessary for the purity of the Gospel.

Paul in God's word says, "In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval." (1 Cor 11).

Let's by all means seek restoration etc, but let us also be realistic about the possibility that some wounds are never healed this side of eternity. Church history is littered with examples. Examples I hasten to add that some doctrinal/theological disputes can never be resolved prior to Christ returning (the 2 traditions of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism being the obvious example).
Guest (Guest) 26/11/2009 14:13
Hey i do not who are at all, so what is in a name brother
Yea you are correct, i just feel that we are being to hard in our hearts and not showing enough compassion "really"
good scripture you have quoted and indeed in the context there must be a reason?, could it be to see who really belongs to God?, if so what then? it is also interesting that you chose a passage on the Lords supper, Paul is writing about the integrity of the heart before God
We can learn so much from each other which is the work of the spirit in us
Thank you
1 Tim 1:5
Peter Carr 26/11/2009 15:27
Everything we quote from Scripture has a context, but we also have to look at the underlyimg principle. The simple reality for Paul was that there were many divisions and problems in the church, particularly in Corinth, and when we look at the letters in more depth we soon discover that there were many who Paul was never reconcilled to, and vice versa.
Editor 27/11/2009 09:21
Guest - Unless there is a good reason regular postings on a thread (or threads) should carry a name. This is site policy; and not least to allow others to follow a discussion without too much trouble. I haven't thus far in this discussion mentioned this, but it would be helpful to all if you could identify yourself (even with your Christian name). Thank you!
Rosemary Cameron 27/11/2009 21:23
I would have thought that expulsion from a fellowship necessarily implied non-communication. I do note that the FCosS has 'suspended' talks, the implication being that they could be resumed if the CofS were to adopt a more biblical stance. This seems to me to be in keeping with the christian spirit of being prepared to be reconciled on proof of repentance. I therefore support the stance the FCofS has taken.
Peter Carr 28/11/2009 08:25
I agree Rosemary, it is not wise to seek reconcilliation at any cost, particularly if it means diluting or distorting the whole counsel of God.
Leo Rose (Guest) 01/12/2009 19:21
Truth divides between that which is true and that which is not true. There is unity in truth. According to John 17:17 "Thy Word is truth, not man's commentaries or systematic theologies. Yet many today depend fully upon man's teachings and quote men for their theology rather than the scriptures themselves. Is calling myself a __ __ __ __ __ __ ist or a __ __ __ __ __ __ ist any different that those who were saying, "I am of Paul" or "I am of Apollos"? 1 Corinthians 3.


Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

Let's face it, the reason the church is so divided is because we have gotten away from the Word of God.
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