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Kirk confirms its spiritual demise

In a debate where ‘unity’ trumped ‘Truth’ on all sides of the debate the Church of Scotland meeting in General Assembly voted to allow congregations to call gay ministers.
 



And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah."

Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty says concerning the prophets: "I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land."
(Jer 23:14-15)

 
General AssemblyFollowing an 11th-hour intervention by the immediate past Moderator Rev. Albert Bogle, the Church of Scotland's highest court voted for his motion which now allows local congregations to call clergy who are actively homosexual.

The present and presiding Moderator, the Right Reverend Lorna Hood, said: "This is a massive vote for the peace and unity of the Church."
Rev. John Chalmers, Principal Clerk of the Kirk, affirmed that view and, using the euphemism-of-choice, stated: "At the end of a long day we came down to a choice of two motions, both of which were for what we have called from the beginning: 'the mixed economy'."

In fact the 'mixed economy' would be better described as a dog's dinner. Mr. Bogle might  find a satisfaction in the 'success' of his motion which (officially) maintains the Kirk's traditional view of marriage. However, by allowing actively-gay clergy to operate within its ranks the national church has effectively declared itself apostate; and all the while endeavouring to fool itself into believing that it is 'contending earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints'.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Roy Patton the current Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland addressed the Assembly on behalf of what is Northern Ireland's largest Protestant denomination. While commending the Assembly for the way in which the debate was being conducted, nevertheless conveyed with "sadness" his view that "if the Assembly follows a particular 'trajectory' as described in the revisionist approach then that would cause serious tensions between our two denominations". In what he described as "great heart-searching" he continued: "We find it hard to comprehend why the Spirit of God would lead a Church away from what we would understand as the clear teaching of Scripture to be."

According to Rev. David Randall the decision is a failure of leadership. He said such sitting on the fence would anger many traditionalists who believe Scripture does not sanction, but indeed outlaws, homosexual activity.

"Are we to stand by Scripture or are we to go with the flow of social trends?"
Mr. Randall is a senior retired minister of the Church of Scotland with two sons who are currently serving as parish ministers in the Kirk. He saw the revisionist agenda as having been "forced upon us", and that by going down the revisionist route the Church would "lose members, ministers, congregations and money." In challenging the departure from God's eternal word in favour of contemporary opinion he asked: "Are we to stand by Scripture or are we to go with the flow of social trends?"

In believing that the great national institution has successfully charted a passage through the turbulent seas of human sexuality the Kirk is deluding itself; and has failed the nation which it claims to represent as the national church.

"At a time when the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has not so much quit the high ground but blown up the mountain top, a clear vote would offer the promise of a Kirk revival, and even a leadership role in civic Scotland"  (The Times, 18 May 2013)
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob cannot stand compromise. In days of old He wrote to His chosen people:
"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live" (Deut 30:19).

Taking over from Moses as leader of nation Joshua spoke clearly to the people:
" But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).

The prophet Elijah addressed the people at Mount Carmel: '
"How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word' (1 Kings 18:21).

The Psalmist wrote:
"My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end. I hate double-minded men, but I love your law."
(Ps 119:112-113).
And the apostle James spelled it out:
"Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:8).

In the event it will take a further two years to apply and ratify the proposals for which the Assembly voted. In 2013/14 the necessary legislative changes will be drawn up and then 'send down' under the Barrier Act to the local presbyteries for approval. (And of course divine intervention to reverse the process cannot be discounted.) However what is abundantly clear is that the prevailing mood within the national Church of Scotland – which it will most likely affirm on a different issue later this week regarding God' covenant promises to Abraham – is on a collision course with the Almighty.

The whole issue exposes fundamental weaknesses in how the institutional church has structured itself; and the reactions and responses by its ministers, members and congregations in the months to come remain to be seen.

"As a national institution the Church of Scotland is finished.".
Meanwhile, it is worth considering the opinion of Harry Reid – former editor of the Herald and biographer to the Kirk in his book 'Outside Verdict' (St. Andrew's Press 2002).
Following recent media reports at the time of Aberdeen's Gilcomston Church departure from the denomination the former editor of the Herald newspaper opined that the Church of Scotland, as a national institution, is finished. Speaking on television in the wake of the Assembly decision he suggested that the Church will not-so-much collapse as disintegrate.

Whatever the outcome, the national Church of Scotland can no longer be regarded with any respect whatsoever in regard to preaching and maintaining the Truth of God's Word.

Two and a half thousand years ago and through the prophet Ezekiel God spoke to the nation of Israel:

"I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone. Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.

"I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.'"
(Ezek 36:21-22)

The prophet's words were addressed to the nation of Israel, and they cannot be interpreted and applied – as some would wish to do – to any other nation/state today. But the principle nevertheless applies. God will see to it that His Name (which in Hebrew thought describes His character) and His Word will prevail: not because of the Church of Scotland but rather in spite of it.
 


Postscript:
In the wake of the General Assembly's decision one possible option for defecting Church of Scotland people and congregations is the invitation from the Free Church of Scotland to "come on over to my place". However any mass influx of former Kirk ministers and members could serve to destabilize the Free Church as the denomination is presently in a fine balace of conservative/progressive tensions – evidenced most recently by the serious differences of opinion of how sung worship should be conducted.

The factious and fractious historical pattern of Scottish Presbyterianism shows no sign of changing any time soon.

Ed footnote: Please note that consistence stance of this website is that God is displeased with all sin – whether it be of a homosexual or heterosexual nature or not. Forgiveness and restoration into a relationship with a loving God is available through personal repentance and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The above article essentially relates to the failure of one denomination to hold fast to the Word of God against the pressures of this age.

Christians Together, 22/05/2013

Feedback:
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John Miller 28/05/2013 18:41
William what you write is correct. However I was responding to the charge that I was "asserting myself in pride". To be accused in that way does not really concern me except that it negates what I have written based on specific scriptural basis.

I know that I am afflicted by pride. As I examine my heart I find it there. To deny that would be to deny the truth of scripture.

What I must do as a Christian is take issue with what is foreign to scriptural truth and teaching. That is the responsibility of every follower of Christ when confronted by those who claim to belong to Him but deny the truth of scripture. In the profession of Christianity today there are many who claim to be Christians but refuse to accept the authority of the word of God.

What weight can be attached to personal attacks launched from the anonymity of a name that conceals the identity of the attacker, for instance. Where in scripture do you find any justification for hiding behind such a false identity? I know that according to the rules of this forum it is not compulsory to reveal one's identity but for my part I have no fear of being identified and would consider it a betrayal of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me to hide behind a false identity.
william (Guest) 28/05/2013 20:46
"take issue with what is foreign to scriptural truth and teaching"
What one is certain is 'foreign to scriptural truth' may not be recognised by another as the case, and may not in fact be the case!
The way forward in that situation is not to rest on our judgments of truth, but surely to go back and reread and study, and where possible graciously and humbly seek to learn together and arrive together at what Scripture actually says, for our good.
eg use of 2 Cor 6.17 - you and others sought to use this text as a basis for brothers leaving the church. In context I sought to show that the verse is not addressing that issue at all, rather the issue of all in Christ to be distinctively separate in lifestyle from those who are still 'dead in sin' as Paul described it to the Ephesians.
Let us never be quick to assume the other is in error, or being foreign to the truth, when they disagree with us, especially when they, in holding to Scripture, do not recognise that perception.
Would we not both agree, it must be for us all, back to the Word which God Himself has spoken and graciously given to us - line upon line? - all to the end that we become perfect in Christ, worthy to bear His Name in this world, and at the same time 'our brothers' keeper' in the divine family into which we have been born by God, our Father.
Rev Alex Buchan retired (Guest) 28/05/2013 22:44
Yes Monday was a bad day for the Kirk, but has God deserted it? I may have no other option than to stay in and seek to reform the Kirk from within, while agreeing entirely with the Traditionalists.
To God be the Glory... (Guest) 01/06/2013 19:19
In these days of confusion, when too many are being led astray. Let us refresh and remind ourselves in the essential truths of the historical Christian faith.
:-)

Basic Christian Beliefs

•The inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility of God's word, the Bible, as originally given. The holy scripture is both vital and clear, and all Christians must submit to its supreme authority and sufficiency, both individually and corporately, in every matter of belief and conduct.

•The existence of one eternal and immutable God, the Holy Trinity, Creator and Lord of the universe who, in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - three Persons who are the same in substance, and equal in power and glory - governs all things according to his will, and is accomplishing his purposes in the world and in the church.

•The inherent value of all human beings, made by God in his own image, and their sinfulness and guilt since the fall of Adam. This has rendered them subject to God's wrath and condemnation, and has resulted in their alienation from him, from one another and from his creation.

•The essential, absolute and eternal deity of the Lord Jesus Christ; his conception by Mary of the Holy Spirit; his virgin birth; his real but sinless humanity; his voluntary humiliation and obedience, culminating in his death as a sacrifice for sin; his bodily resurrection from the dead on the third day; his ascension into heaven; his continuing ministry as Prophet, Priest and King; and his coming again in power and glory.

•Salvation from the guilt, penalty and all consequences of sin solely through the work of Jesus Christ - his perfect obedience, penal substitutionary death, bodily resurrection and exaltation as Lord. He alone is truly God and truly man, and therefore the only mediator between God and humanity, uniquely able to save completely those who come to God through him. There is salvation through no other person, creed, process or power.

•The justification of sinners entirely through the imputation of Christ's righteousness to them and of the guilt and penalty of their sin to him. It is appropriated by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

•The necessity and sufficiency of the work of the Holy Spirit for the individual's new birth to repentance and faith, union with Christ and growth to maturity, and for the church's continuous renewal in truth, unity, wisdom, faith, holiness, love, power and mission.

•The universal church, the body of which Christ is the head, to which all God's people belong. Its existence reveals God's ultimate purpose to bring everything together under Christ. It is made visible both in local congregations and in the wider communion of those who profess the true faith. It comprises a people called to declare the praise of the God who saved them, to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and to proclaim the gracious offer of salvation to those who are lost.

•The unity of the body of Christ, as expressed within and between local churches by mutual love, care, encouragement and corporate action. True fellowship between churches exists only where they are faithful to the apostolic gospel.

•The personal and visible return in glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to raise the dead and bring salvation and judgement to final completion. He will grant eternal life to those who have believed the gospel, and consign those who have not to everlasting punishment in hell. God will then fully establish his kingdom in new heavens and a new earth, from which evil and evildoers, suffering and death will be excluded, and in which he will be glorified forever.
Ruth Kennedy, The Jacob Plan. (Guest) 03/06/2013 10:22
In light of the recent Church of Scotland's decision to accept 'The Inheritance of Abraham Report' The Church at Stirling wishes to express their continued support for the Jewish communities here in Scotland and across the World and for the Nation of Israel. As a Bible believing Church, the Nation of Israel is important to us because we believe that the Scriptures teach that Israel remains important to God. We believe that if something is important to God that it should also be important to those who say that they believe and follow Him. For the Church at Stirling therefore, we continue to support and do good to the Nation of Israel and her people as an expression of our faith and trust in Him. We would also like to publically state that there are Christians and Churches in Scotland such as The Church at Stirling, who have serious concerns both about the content and the general approach taken in this report, and that we remain completely committed to holding out our hand of friendship and support to the Jewish communities here in Scotland and around the world.
Editor 11/06/2013 15:49
HOLROOD ABBEY CHURCH TO LEAVE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND

"Rev. Phil Hair, minister of the church, said: "It is with great sadness and sorrow that, following the recent decision of the General Assembly on Same-Sex Relationships and the Ministry, the elders have come to a common mind, unanimously so, that we should begin the process, in conjunction with the Edinburgh Presbytery and other relevant Church of Scotland Boards, which will lead to us leaving the denomination."

Read on at STV Edinburgh -
http://local.stv.tv/edinburgh/229014-holyrood-abbey-church-starts-process-of-leaving-kirk-over-gay-ministers/

Seumas, Tobermory (Guest) 11/06/2013 17:19
From the article:

"The minister and elders of Holyrood Abbey Church in Meadowbank, Edinburgh have indicated they wish to consider leaving the Church of Scotland in around two years’ time."

Eh? Two years time?

Presumably "principle" isnt a factor in any of this if its going to take that long. I would have thought that if they were that hacked off with the CofS, they would just leave and set up a church on a snow-strewn hillside.

Must be property and money and stuff like that to wrangle over.
A. Rogers (Guest) 12/06/2013 08:34
Cynicism isnt listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit. But it is surely the fruit of a spirit.
John Miller 12/06/2013 13:37
Seumas your cheerful and comic responses never cease to amuse. Phil Hair, his elders and congregation are Bible believing Christians and have acted in obedience to God's word.

I for one pray for their blessing in the actions they have taken and propose to take in accordance with the will of God and the honour of His Name.
Editor 12/06/2013 14:12
Each congregation has to work things out in their respective situations.

The only differences between (say) Gilcomston and Holyrood Abbey are -
(a) the former decided in 2009-to-11 to quit, but ultimately left in 2011, whereas the latter decided (in 2013) to leave in 2015 i.e. same path but chronologically separated by two years
(b) the former only made their intentions public at the end of the process whereas the latter have made a public statement at an earlier stage.

These situations represent a managed process akin to an amicable divorce. The situation with the Tron was much more quickly processed which left less room for a smooth transition.
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