Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Nailing our Colours Firmly to the Fence

Nailing our Colours Firmly to the Fence

A few month ago a local Muslim prayer room was damaged in an arson attack.  The local Church of Scotland congregation responded by offering the use of their facilities for Friday prayers.  I did wonder at the time if a local Kingdom Hall, (Jehovah’s Witnesses), was damaged would the same openness be shown to them.

Islam is a post-Christian heresy.  It does not worship the same God as Christians; it denies the deity of Christ and reduces him to the level of a mere prophet among many.  Like the JWs it embraces a form of Arianism. 

Is it right therefore that an orthodox Christian church should enable and facilitate false worship? Of course Liberal Christianity would deny that we worship different gods because Liberal Christianity is itself Arian, denying the true Trinity, the deity of Christ and his vicarious atonement.

It does not come as a surprise therefore that the Presbytery of Glasgow, (Church of Scotland), has received a report on “the use of church premises for worship by people of non-Christian faiths” that firmly nails its colours to the fence.  We have the usual prevarication about there being sincerely held but radically opposed views, “The committee notes the good faith of parties with radically different views.”  In essence, there are those who hold to and those who reject the orthodox biblical view of salvation being found in Christ alone and experience by grace alone through faith alone. This means that whatever else, “we did not approach this as a disciplinary matter.” There is no dividing line between what is orthodox and what is unorthodox, just the ever fluid boundaries of broad church theology.

Indeed, there is even the suggestion that some might wish a church set aside space for “common search”?  “Common search” implies that we do not already have the Truth as found in Christ, but will engage with Muslims in an open ended exploration of possibilities.  (Would Muslims, I wonder, accept this concept of “common search”, denying as it does the idea that ultimate truth is found in the Quran?)

Is this not what Paul means by referring to some who are “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”? (2 Tim 3:7) Liberalism hates the doctrinal and moral certainties found in orthodox Reformed theology and would rather engage in a search than rest in a previously revealed absolute truth.

Ultimately, in true presbyterian  style, it is suggested that “Presbytery refers the topic of the use of church premises for worship by people of non-Christian faiths, to the theological forum of the General Assembly.” Yes, true clarity will be found there!  The report to Presbytery oozes  niceness and openness and “lets’-all-get-along-togetherness”. It lacks conviction and doctrinal certainty, but that is the mark of a Broad Church.

Evangelicals are faced with another example, all be it tangential, that the exclusiveness of Christ and the Gospel is no longer upheld by the denomination.  But then, they know that already and seem prepared to live with it.

I should point out in fairness that at least one minister in the Presbytery raised this issue as a matter of concern prior to this report.  His concerns fell on deaf ears it seems.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Homosexual Marriage – A Look Elsewhere

With the recommendation going to the forthcoming General Assembly of the Church of Scotland that those in homosexual marriages be permitted to hold office in the denomination (approved by a majority of presbyteries) the decline in apostasy continues.

It is worth having a look elsewhere to see what other liberal or mixed denominations are suggesting.  

The Reformed Church in America will be facing this issue at their forthcoming G.A. or General Synod as they call it.  A special commission has recommended two options that are in direct opposition to each other, that they either define once and for all marriage as between a man and a woman or, alternatively, as between “two persons”.  No shades of gray here – the suggestion is that it is time to make a decision and cease sitting on the fence.  Of course, the majority liberal consensus is that the latter alternative be chosen.

What then of talk of restrained or reconciled diversity on this issues?  A gritty realism prevails.  It is suggested that if a decisive and clear decision is made that some, most probably the few remaining Reformed evangelicals, could not in good conscience acquiesce with this decision.  If that is the case there would be a need for separation:

RECOMMENDED ACTION OF GENERAL SYNOD: That Synod instruct the General Synod Council to appoint a task force to explore and articulate the options and consequences within the RCA for grace-filled and orderly separation over time, should the different perspectives regarding human sexuality keep us from remaining as one, for report back to the 2017 General Synod.

I respect their realism, and their recognition that if both sides cannot live together then at least the divorce should not be acrimonious.  However, if the PCUSA sets a precedent, then separation will not necessarily be “grace-filled and orderly”, for that denomination has demanded huge leaving payments from congregations who wished to depart, and in some cases have refused them their property.  

Going by past action, the Church of Scotland will not facilitate congregations leaving and any that do will find that they have to fight hard for their properties and funds – no “grace-filled” separations are in prospect!

Of course it is possible that the evangelicals in the Church of Scotland will  again reluctantly accept the reality of the denominational decisions and claim that “restrained diversity” allows them to mentally and spiritually separate themselves from the approval of what Scripture clearly forbids, while remaining in full denominational fellowship with those who embrace or practise these sins.

The RCA report can be found at:

“We may add this consideration, that hitherto toleration of errors and diversity of corrupt opinions have ever been looked upon, and made use of, as a most subtle means for undermining and destroying of the Church.”
James Durham, “A Dying Man’s Testimony to the Church of Scotland” 1659