It's right to allow calls to gay ministers.
Amongst all the hoo-ha surrounding the Church of Scotland’s decision on gay clergy, the folk of Queen’s Cross were and are – at one level – totally within their rights to call Scott Rennie.
As so often the case, when problems arise within a denomination, the 'in-your-face' issue attracts all the comment and responses while the more fundamental issues lie buried or ignored.
The Church of Scotland is (supposed to be) a Presbyterian Church; and to put it in a nutshell that epithet, in its true sense, means government and oversight in each congregation is entrusted to elders - as a male plurality working in harmony with the Holy Spirit and the group of fellow believers of which they are part. (Acts 15:22, 25, 28).
And yet what the Scottish Presbyterian system has evolved into – the Associated Presbyterian Churches being one possible exception – is a hierarchy (the word means ‘priestly rule’) of decision-making; operating within institutionalised settings and structures.
If the biblical form of Presbyterianism was to be honestly applied then every congregation would have autonomy of action, and be accountable only to the head – the only head – of the church, which is Jesus Christ. If any local church – as Queen’s Park Church in Aberdeen has chosen to do – departs from a biblical ‘life and doctrine’ and onto a path of heresy and apostasy then the congregation would be excommunicated by the true and faithful believers in their locale and beyond.
However the Presbyterian Denominations have, as stated above, themselves chosen to deviate from and remain resolutely opposed to the Godly patterns which the Bible teaches.
In the pages of God's word:
There is no such thing as a ‘denomination’. One of the first errors which Paul had to tackle in the early church was factionalism (1 Cor. 1:11-13).
There is certainly no such thing as a denominational HQ and a ‘highest court’.
[To use the Council of Jerusalem to justify such things is to distort Scripture beyond recognition. The much-respected theologian F.F. Bruce wrote in his excellent history of the early church:
“The church of Antioch, for example, did not lie within the jurisdiction of the church of Jerusalem, although the mother church naturally enjoyed a special measure of prestige and respect.” (The Spreading Flame; Paternoster Press p.210) The distinguished scholar who was born in Elgin continued: “There is no thought here of a central or metropolitan authority to which the various [local] churches must bow.” ]
There is no such thing as ‘clergy’ as we currently see it.
There is no such thing as a ‘first amongst equals’ which endues the ‘minister/pastor’ with chief executive status.
There is no such thing as ‘ordination’ – only corporate recognition of God’s gifting on this person or that.
There is no such thing as ‘laity’ in the priesthood of all believers who are – each and every one – called by God to one form of ministry (service) or another.
A comment which resonates into the current debacle on the issue of sexuality within the church is that: "‘Leadership is far too important a function to be left to leaders’
. But this observation – from a secular source – is based on the human rather than the spiritual mindset.
‘Leadership is far too important a function to be left to leaders’
Indeed there is only one head of the Church; he is The Shepherd, the rest of us are sheep. Accordingly the sheep utlimately need to be led by the voice of the good shepherd; and the sheep will hear His voice (John 10:16). Individually and collectively – if they are diligent to do so – they will know His voice. Leave it to 'leaders' and we are witnessing the consequences.
The Church of Scotland – and not just the Church of Scotland – have put men into positions of being able to exercise worldly status and fleshly authority. [ It is interesting to note that even ‘ordinary’ ministers are given the title ‘Reverend’ (though many good men eschew the title; or reluctantly accept it) when the word only appears once in the whole of the Bible: it is there applied to God, and God alone (Ps 119:9 KJV). And if this practise could be deemed blasphemous, what of ‘The Very Reverend’ with ‘tassels long and phylacteries wide’? (Matt 23:5)]
In the immediate wake of the Assembly's decision, one Kirk minister remarked: “The problem in the Church of Scotland is that there are too many unconverted ministers”. The problem – and indeed it is a large and serious one – is that it relates not just to ministers; and it is not confined to just the Church of Scotland.
“The problem in the Church of Scotland is that there are too many unconverted ministers”
The real tragedy of what we are seeing unfolding is that many of the currently disaffected believers – whether in pulpit or pew – within the national church might be attracted by invitations emanating from other ‘presbyterian’ denominations: denominations (Yes, that word again) which operate on exactly the same unbiblical patterns as the Church of Scotland – patterns and systems which have brought the latter to a situation of utter dereliction. "It's 'Déjà vu' all over again".
Someone once remarked that God would not “revive a church which Jesus didn’t build”. So let’s all pray that the present collapse of churchianity and the hypocritical apostasy into which it has fallen will clear the ground completely so that the true ‘root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; [that] the nations will rally to him; and his place of rest will be glorious’ (Isaiah 11:10).
Pastoral footnote: See article 'What to look for in a church'.
"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!" declares the Lord.
Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done," declares the Lord.
"I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.
I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the Lord. (Jer 23:1-4)