Muslims and Kirk Ministers
I heard a joke recently: “What is the difference between a Muslim and a Church of Scotland minister?” Answer: “Muslims believe in the Virgin Birth.”
Not strictly accurate, but it has a way of focussing our minds.
Not all Muslims necessarily believe in the Virgin Birth, despite it being clearly taught in the Qur’an (Sura 19:19,20).
Not all Kirk ministers reject the Virgin Birth. It is difficult to find recent statistical evidence, but an older survey (The Sunday Times, 2004) showed that 37% of their sample of Church of Scotland ministers rejected the virgin birth. There was a distinct geographical divide, “with most ministers in the Highlands and islands favouring a literal interpretation while those in the central belt were more sceptical." That same split on doctrinal matters is also currently reflected in ethical matters, e.g. same sex partnerships/marriage.
It may be that since 2004 there has been a resurgence of orthodoxy and the percentage of non-believing ministers has dropped dramatically. But if we extrapolate on the 2004 percentage there would be around 320 of the current ministers rejecting the virgin birth.
Why then the evangelical surprise that Rev Andrew Frater has gone public with his dismissal of the virgin birth. Perhaps he is just more open and honest than the other estimated 319 ministers who reject the virgin birth.
However, evangelical outrage is easily expressed in the comfort of their own congregations. The reality is that Mr Frater is totally protected from doctrinal discipline. It is unlikely that there will be any attempt in the Presbytery of Dumbarton to discipline Mr Frater, and if there was, that it would succeed. This is where the national church needs to be challenged: you have no discipline, you have a fellowship that embraces heretics and the sexually immoral in membership and office, you will not be obedient to the clear NT teaching on dealing with false teachers.
Of course, their response is that we are being unkind and uncaring bringing these matters up; why can’t we just let these matters lie and not be a thorn in their side. “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude.” (Adrian Rogers)
Meanwhile, for those who wish to consider the issue further, here from the pen of Albert Mohler: