Christian Life 

The word of the Lord was rare


Michael GoveMicheal Gove is at once a Scot, a Conservative Shadow Secretary of State and a journalist: he was brought up in the Church of Scotland and has recently written a column in the Scotsman newspaper regarding the apparent lack of spiritual "punch" from the national church.

Pondering on "where the boundaries of life should be drawn" in profound issues of life, morality and ethics he wrote of the lack of clear spiritual direction emanating from the Kirk:

It's ironic that the strongest voices of moral clarity in Scotland now should be Catholic, much in the same way as the clearest moral leadership in England now comes from the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. The Catholic workers who settled in west central Scotland in Victorian times, the Jewish refugees who came here at the turn of the century and the new Afro-Caribbean citizens who've arrived since the war have kept alive the tradition and example of moral witness in a way many of the rest of us have forgotten.

Writing as someone brought up in the Church of Scotland, I have to ask who is there now in the Kirk, or of the Kirk, who speaks with the command, force and gravity of Cardinal O'Brien or James Macmillan? I cannot think of a contemporary William Barclay or George MacLeod in the Kirk, nor a scholar, preacher or social missionary to match these men. Nor can I think of any decisive intervention in the ethical life of the nation which the Kirk has generated recently.

The Church of Scotland, throughout its life, used to punch above its weight. From the Reformation, through the Great Disruption of the 1840s, to the missionary work of late Victorian times and the foundation of the Iona community, the Kirk and its controversies have given life and spirit to Christianity and intellectual energy to the United Kingdom.

But now it seems to have lost its fighting strength; what was once muscular about its Christianity now seems increasingly flabby. And, it appears to me, the place once taken by the Church of Scotland in our national life is increasingly occupied by the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. The famine may be over, but there's still a hunger in the lives of men, and we Scots should recognise it's not being fed, here, in our home.

Read the full article in the Scotsman

Michael Andrew Gove (born August 26, 1967) is a Conservative politician, journalist and author in the United Kingdom. He is the current Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Surrey Heath since 2005.

Gove was born in Edinburgh. At four months old, he was adopted by a family in Aberdeen, where he was brought up. His adoptive father was a fish merchant and still works part-time in the fish-processing business. His mother worked as a lab assistant at the University of Aberdeen and with deaf children for Aberdeen District Council. He was educated in the state and independent sectors in Aberdeen, latterly at Robert Gordon's College. He later studied at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, where he served as President of the Oxford Union

Christians Together, 10/11/2008

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a h 17/11/2008 09:36
Furthermore, they have no single dedicated office bearers either, such as Pastor! Which is one of the five fold ministries Paul refers to.
John Parker (Guest) 17/11/2008 10:00
The Brethren views on the Holy Spirit is not the subject of this discussion.

As to "dedicated officer bearers", the Holy Spirit gives us "gifts of and for service" not "positions or badges of office". The Brethren assemblies will no doubt have - as any body of believers should - a number of people with pastoral giftings who exercise that form of ministry. What they don't have is (capitalised) "Pastors/Senior Pastors /Bishops/Archbishops/Ministers"

The so-called five-fold ministries are "giftings" given to and dispersed amongst the whole body for the upbuilding of the same. They are not badges of rank, or titles indicating higher status or greater gifting. The fact that this is the common perception is bring ruin within the body (including those who exercise these roles).

And pity the poor church and the poor "pastor" that has only one of the latter in its midst.
a h 17/11/2008 15:52
The view of the Brethren on the Holy Spirit is essential to this topic. With rejection of the Holy Spirit's influence on individuals and church groups they will be in error all the way down the line. Including their position on ministry and calling.

Ephesians 4: 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Anyone who is truly called of God to be a pastor should do so for rank or title, but because they are called. Nothing to do with what gifts or aptitudes they have. Why did God choose Paul to lead his church? A murdering religious zealot? Yet he became the a terrific apostle of Christ.

So why do you think the five fold ministries are mere giftings and not callings and offices also?
John Parker (Guest) 17/11/2008 17:28
The Brethren Assemblies consist of very godly people; as anyone who has contact with them knows.
This discussion is about "speaking out", but has strayed from its origins so needs to refocus.
However the five-fold ministries (including every other form of ministry) is indeed a gifting and calling. However the only "office" (and I am reluctant to use the expression) is that of the priesthood of all believers - of which every believer is part.
Ralph Smith (Guest) 18/11/2008 08:19
I would tend to agree with you John. Where in the bible do we get the titles Mr, Rev or even Rev Dr? Yet far too many clergy preferred to be addressed in this manner, often to the extent of maintaining the sad divisions that have been drawn up by people in the church, ie between so called laity and clergy!

Maybe if we worked harder to be biblical in how we should relly be, ie, the priesthood of all believers, we may discover a voice that the world finds credible, and not one that is largely ignored because we often reflect more of the worlds values than Gods!
a h 18/11/2008 10:46
I can assure you John, I have many friends from Brethren backgrounds and theire knowledge of the Word is terrific, but they do lack in some basic teachings.

It's not about being called Rev,or Dr.If anyone insist on that then they are sad individuals.

It's about recognition of God's order and the need for human focal points.
Ralph Smith (Guest) 18/11/2008 11:32
"It's about recognition of God's order and the need for human focal points."

Sadly when human focal points come too much into focus God is robbed of His Glory!
a h 12/12/2008 11:13
"Sadly when human focal points come too much into focus God is robbed of His Glory!"

Hence the need to have proper Biblical church government where accountability is enforced.

The priesthood of all believers is out of context in this case.
John Parker (Guest) 13/12/2008 12:02
The priesthood of all believers is indeed nothing to do with biblical oversight. However neither has the notion of hierarchical authority nothing whatsoever to do with biblical oversight. Conversally, plural eldership however has much to do with biblical oversight. And mutual accountability has much to do with biblical oversight. The youngest believer has a responsibility to address even the eldest saint if the latter is going astray. (Of course the reverse is more often the case.)
a h 16/12/2008 17:36
"However neither has the notion of hierarchical authority nothing whatsoever to do with biblical oversight."

Paul mentions his 'authority' here, " For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:" 2Cor10:8

You see, God given authority. Just one example. Authority for what? - Edification of the church. NOt for destruction as some would use it unwittingly for, but for edification.

That is why, to keep the checks and balances, we have overseers over the pastors whose job is to steer the church in good doctrine and make sure the pastors are pastoring correctly. To also make sure the teachers are not teaching heresy. To make sure strong personalities do NOT lead the church in the wrong direction such as happens when you have a team of elders leading a church; that one would rise above the rest just because he has the strongest will.
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