Double-speak when clarity is vital
In the continuing and spiritually debilitating saga of the Church of Scotland’s view on human sexuality ‘evangelical’ Kirk leaders continue to sound a confused note.
In the first week in March 2015 the media carried a prominent report of a ‘senior statesman’ – Rev. Aonghas (pronounced ‘Innes’) Ian Macdonald – leaving the Church of Scotland.
The clergyman served as a minister in the Kirk over a period of 40 years across the Highlands and Islands, including parishes in Wester Ross, the Isle of Lewis and latterly, the East Church in Inverness, one of the biggest evangelical congregations in city.
Joining Mr MacDonald is former Kirk colleague Rev Andrew McMillan, who has now left the Church of Scotland to lead a new Free Church congregation in the west side of Inverness. The latter, a former marine and policeman, demitted what was his first charge in the Dalneigh area of the town. (The parish is linked with the small church of Bona at the head of Loch Ness.)
The departure of these men from the ranks of the national church was preceded by chaplain and parish evangelist Derek Morrison who played a significant role in the East Church in which he came to faith in 1989.
In the context of these significant developments, the aforementioned news report stated that Inverness Presbytery was to write to the Kirk’s head office in Edinburgh. Rev. Hector Macdonald who is principal of the Highland Theological College (HTC) in Dingwall and a member of Inverness Presytery was quoted as saying: “I felt it was important we did not suffer this loss in silence.” While Rev. Professor Andrew McGowan a former principal of the HTC and successor at the East Church following Mr. Macdonald’s retiral in 2007 was reported as feeling that “Kirk officials are not taking seriously enough how damaging this whole matter is to the church”.
The context of these most recent departures from the Church of Scotland’s leadership ranks is the Kirk’s ‘trajectory’ towards accepting same-sex relationships in a ‘mixed economy’ of belief and apostasy.
The question came into very sharp focus in 2009 when Rev. Scott Rennie was appointed to a church charge in Aberdeen while living in a homosexual relationship. Since then the national church – whose wheels can grind exceedingly slowly – have been involved in ultimately-vain attempts to preserve unity while Truth was been thrown into the gutter.
"Evangelical’ leaders ....have effectively neutered themselves in terms of preaching the Truth"
In the whole sorry situation there are very serious concerns –
In Old Testament times the shofar (ram’s horn) was the public address system of the day. While a very rudimentary instrument it was employed for a variety of purposes.
The Scottish nation which desperately needs solid biblical leadership has been abandoned by the national church which was established and has served as such since the 16th-century Reformation.
The ‘evangelical’ leaders who remain in the Church are effectively neutered in terms of preaching the whole Truth within the now-hopelessly-compromised denomination.
Those remaining Church of Scotland leaders, through their responses to these most recent departures, could stand accused of pursuing mere face-saving and conscience-salving actions; anguishing over the ‘damage’ to church unity rather than “defending the faith first delivered to the saints”.
Faithful believers amongst the flock are having to depart the denomination in order to find safe pastures and reliable shepherds.
Those believers who remain in the Church of Scotland run the serious risk of damage to the integrity and vitality of their own faith.
The shofar was used during worship at the Tabernacle and Temple. It was sounded when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to the camp (1 Sam. 4:5, 2 Sam. 6:15) and was regularly used as an instrument of praise in the Temple (2 Chron. 15:14, Psalm 47:6, 89:16, 150:5). It was also used in the coronation service of the Jewish kings.
However one of the most important functions of the shofar was to sound the alarm when danger threatened through enemy attack. It was essential that the trumpet-blower produced an unambiguous note.
In New Testament times the apostle Paul used this scenario as a metaphor when he wrote to the church in Corinth:
Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? (1 Cor. 14:8).
Indeed. In fact through the Church of Scotland's 'mixed economy' the enemy of God is now firmly within the camp.
Footnote: The above 'departures' from the Church of Scotland are the latest in a series of ministers, members and congregations leaving the national church. Large evangelical congregations in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee have quit over the last 3 years. In January 2015 the minister and congregation in Gardenstown left the denomination.
It is anticpated that the Church of Scotland will ratify the decision to recognise same-sex marriages within and outwith the Church at the forthcoming General Assembly in May.