Harvest is past; the summer has ended
Memories of the summer of 2011 will be fixed forever in the minds of many within the Church of Scotland. The Kirk in General Assembly during May 2011 confirmed its most public and corporate act of apostasy since its formation in 1560.
first published 04/09/11
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"The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved."
Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me.
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? (Jer 8:20)
Jesus said: "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matt 16:18)
The Church of Scotland, like many other denominations around the world, has had an ongoing and escalating difficulty in accommodating the modern-day view of intimate same-sex relationships as being a normal lifestyle choice.
The public acceptance of and legal provision introduced in 2004 for civil partnerships (de facto gay marriage) have significantly increased the the pressure on Christian churches to accept homosexual relationships as a valid expression of human sexuality.
In 2006, the annual General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Kirk’s highest court was blocked in a bid to allow individual ministers freedom of conscience regarding whether or not to bless same-sex relationships.
Employing the mechanism of the Barrier Act which prevents important decisions being made at Assembly level without consulting the church as a whole, the evangelical wing obliged the denomination to consult the membership through the structure of presbyteries (groupings of representatives of local churches in geographical proximity). Ultimately the voting by the presbyteries defeated the revisionist view and the status quo was accordingly preserved.
However the whole issue exploded again onto centre stage in January 2009 when Queen’s Cross Church, a local congregation in the city of Aberdeen, called and inducted a minister who was living in a homosexual relationship.
The General Assembly of that year took no action to reverse that situation but set up a Special Commission on same-sex relationships. Broadly speaking the report (presented in May 2011) gave no mandate for change from the traditional view of (heterosexual/monogamous) marriage between one man and one woman in a faithful and exclusive relationship. The Assembly voted to (conditionally) allow homosexual ministers to remain in place and be inducted to new charges. A further theological study on the matter was commissioned to report back to the General Assembly in 2013.
Few believe that the present decline in the theological integrity within the Church of Scotland will be reversed. (God can do anything, but it depends on what God chooses to do.)
Of those ministers, elders and members who are upset about the current liberal and unbiblical ‘trajectory, some are intending to stay and ‘tough it out’; believing it can be fixed. Many others at both personal and congregational levels are intending getting out; convinced that a line has been irreversibly crossed.
Amongst those who are intending to leave there is a wide variety of individual plans of action and timescales. An individual minister could go tomorrow (one has already left without a charge to go to; others could depart quickly for pastures new): congregations will probably take more time in the process.
Emotional responses from the pews include anger, confusion and disappointment with the apparent inaction and lack of clear direction. The effect would be lessened by seeing faith being practised and not just preached. Open and clear communication with the membership is essential. Declarations of dissent from the Kirk's 'trajectory' are being seen as a 'soft option' which achieves next to nothing.
Sadly, there is a very real prospect that a 'wait and see' attitude will, over time, result in a passive acceptance of the tragic departure from biblical teaching.
A summer past
a special report on the Church of Scotland
With grateful thanks to all the ministers, elders and members of the Church of Scotland (you know who you are) for sharing your thoughts and views: these have been fed into the following article.
The holidays are over and the schools are back; regular routines are restored and life goes on. Yet the summer of 2011 – at least for that part of the body of Christ in Scotland which is in the Church of Scotland – is one that will be remembered; both for what did happen, and what is still to happen (or not, as the case may be).
This year, the summer break was ‘bracketed around’ by two significant and extraordinary meetings of leaders from the ‘Kirk’ (a term of erstwhile affection for the national institution).
These gatherings – one in Glasgow in mid-June, the other in Inverness in mid-August – had marked similarities, but were also defined by stark contrasts. Meanwhile over the summer period strategies and tactics for a ‘third way’ were being developed in a less obvious but no less serious fashion .
The denomination which is the ‘national church’ is in total upset over a recent vote which challenges the very authority of God and His Word.
Tron Church, Glasgow
Both of these gatherings saw those in positions of leadership – ministers and elders – come together in their hundreds. All involved had, and do have, a concern for God’s word; and they were and are much dismayed at a recent decision on the issue of human sexuality.
Meeting in General Assembly in May of this year the Church decided (by a 351/294 vote) to (conditionally) allow openly-practicing gay clergymen to remain in their church pulpits and manses. (A General Assembly is the top tier of Presbyterian government.)
Those who later spoke in Glasgow and Inverness (ministers all) had considered their personal and collective positions in advance; and the running order on each occasion included singing and prayers. However, the meat in these respective sandwiches was scripted perorations aimed at supporting particular perspectives of the situation regarding sexuality in Scotland’s 21st-century national church. And both assemblies were of the view that a serious response was required.
But these similarities did not conceal a stark contrast in the content of what was said, and the precise nature of the response required. ‘Glasgow’ was of the clear and robust view that a ‘line had been crossed’: that the Church was demonstrating by its chosen ‘trajectory’ (towards the acceptance of what is in effect ‘gay marriage’ in its pulpits and manses) to be flying in the face of God’s righteousness and in open rebellion against the authority of His Word. The Inverness perspective was one of judging the Kirk’s actions as being a lamentable regression, but one which – when viewed in the whole sweep of church history – was a recoverable setback in the graph of post-Reformation Scotland. Human effort and astute organisational footwork would correct the situation. Fight clever; fight harder; fight from within. [It needs to be said that this is exactly what has been going on for decades, and certainly since 2009; yet it has not halted the downhill slide.]
Plug the leak or abandon ship?
What would he say and do?
In the most basic and general sense (and exceptions are always the victims of generalisations), the ‘Glasgow’ view was that the once-mighty ecclesiastical battleship has driven itself onto the rocks with unbiblical intent and is now holed below the waterline.
In contrast, the opinion expressed in the Highlands was in the manner of: ‘Steady as she goes; don’t jump ship (yet); rather man the pumps while we fix the leak.’
Meanwhile, and over the summer, a third strand of thinking has resulted in a ‘third way’ approach. Yes, the ship is doomed, but take time to build some lifeboats.
Doubt amongst resolve
In Glasgow – and prefacing many bold words – there was a reference to King Jehoshaphat’s situation of being besieged. His admission and affirmation to Israel’s God when faced with a clear and present danger ran: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you" (2 Chron 20:12). This statement – both then and now – juxtaposes an acknowledgement of total vulnerability with resolute (or perhaps ‘last ditch’) reliance on the prevailing strength of an Almighty God: it also reduces human wisdom to its rightful place – one of utter dependency. It was an ‘in extremis’ response.
But while the Glasgow meeting produced no unified corporate plan there was no lack of conviction at a personal and congregational level. One speaker – a minister in a church in Edinburgh – outlined the stance of his congregation: it is to refuse to:
• submit to the General Assembly decision on same-sex relationships
• contribute funds to the denomination
• accept oversight by the presbytery (local geographical grouping of churches)
• participate in regular church courts and committes locally and nationally
In admitting to the attendant risks of such a position he affirmed:
“I would rather put my head above the parapet, than stick it in the sand.” Indeed.
A much bigger issue
But the most profound issue underlying the two meetings lies in the matter facing individual faithful believers in all positions within the Church of Scotland. Acknowledged in Glasgow but unmentioned in Inverness, it relates to authority, oversight and discipline.
In ‘choosing this day whom you will serve’ (Joshua 24:15) the options are whether or not to accept the spiritual lordship of a denomination that has made a profound and very public demonstration of having utterly capitulated to the secular world’s agenda. In so doing it has renounced the authority of the Word of God and living in open and unrepentant rebellion.
There are also the very important matters of the quality of human leadership alongside which the individual disciple of Christ would want to serve, and the hierarchy that has developed within a Presbyterian form of government.
Whilst those who spoke in Glasgow were – at that time anyway – lacking any clear idea of what the way forward might be, the Scottish people and the nation can take heart that they were seen to be – on that day and hour at least – men of faith, courage and conviction. Men who seemed prepared to put the matter of God’s Truth and His Name above personal fears and institutional support. Of the six ministers who spoke that day, five were in parish ministry and looking towards the future in active Christian service. And they were men who seemed prepared, in the life of faith and in the face of adversity, to practise what they preach.
(for what they are worth)
But there are dangers ahead. And to any ministers who feel they are standing on the edge of the precipice (and in no particular order except the last point, which perhaps should be first):
• Continue to recognise your responsibility to God’s people (Ezra 10:4). They are dismayed, angry and upset. They are – also and meantime – confused by the conflicting messages; and unsettled by apparent prevarication. Appraise them of your thinking and discussions; their responses might be useful to know.• Organise to the extent it is necessary; but do not rely on (have your dependency based upon) an organisation – however new and fresh. (The present predicament illustrates that the one in which you serve has failed you dismally.) The history of Scottish Presbyterianism is shot through with the folly of which Albert Einstein spoke: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". • Discernment, conviction and courage are the essentials for this hour (1 Chron 12:32) (Management is ‘doing things right’: leadership is doing the right things. Committees will fail – as they always do – to produce the essential ‘right stuff’ of focus, direction and resolve.) • It is time to sever any ‘soul ties’ of institutional dependency and misplaced loyalty to existing denominational ‘support mechanisms’. Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom, and her fate was sealed (Gen 19:26). Abraham went out not knowing where he was to go (Heb 11:8).• Go in the strength you have (Judges 6:14); the truly faithful will follow. There is also a huge resource (and role even) for recently-retired ministers who have the great benefit of experience in the things of God; while not having the daily responsibilities and duties relating to congregations. Draw on their wisdom, and whatever energies they might be able and ready to offer.• Fulfil your calling under God. But be absolutely sure that you are, in terms of your present ministry, precisely – positionally, geographically and spiritually – where God wants you to be. Because there will be times, as no doubt you are feeling now if you have not experienced before, that this inner conviction, alongside your faith in God, will be the only thing that will keep you going. The promises of God find their fulfilment at the centre of His will and purposes. That’s where we all need to be to avail ourselves of them, and enjoy His blessing.• For daily and future living, hold tight to the promises of God; the birds and the flowers illustrate His faithfulness (Matt 6:25-29: Matt 6:33).• Be prepared – at a congregational or even personal level for the possibility of having to follow Abraham in stepping out into the unknown and alone (Heb 11:8). No two situations or congregations are in exactly the same circumstance; so merely copying the behaviour of others will not do.• Lay your reputation on God’s altar (Gen 22:9; James 2:21). To quote Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (Rom 11:29).• Rely less (if you do) on distant peers (even though they are good people), and more on the prayerful believers in your immediate environment. Fight the ‘set apart’ perceptions which deprive you of meaningful relationship and prayer support from those daily around you. An intimate, personal and trustworthy prayer group does for the soul what a meeting of Presbytery never will.• Pay scant attention to any ‘elder’ who says: “My job is to offer my minister 100% support.” This is very dangerous. There are many who are prepared to tell us what we want to hear; but very few who will tell us what we need to hear. It is iron, not putty, that sharpens iron (Pr. 27:17).• As a matter of urgency, revisit your ‘Subordinate Standard’ (See Footnotes).• Ask yourself the question: “Am I free?” Free to say and do what I think will earn the reward “good and faithful servant”? Free to speak openly and to act according to your most profound convictions? And if you find there are external constraints, what are they? Are they of God or are they of the enemy of God? • Be prepared for even greater battles ahead – within the ‘evangelical’ church. (This is a story for another day. But the coming days will sift the Bible-believing church in a manner most profound.
The Third Way
Meanwhile, judging the Church to be in terminal decline, there is a third strand emerging as a response to the May Assembly’s decision. Rather than “I’m leaving now” approach, the strategy (with tactics emerging) is to build a base – taking account of the legalities surrounding the buildings and finances – which will, as quickly as possible over the few years, allow for a more ordered withdrawal from the denomination. [It is worthwhile noting however that the Disruption of 1843 was 10 years in the making.]
So the difference between two of the responses is merely one of timescale and tactics. Some are for leaving now (or in as short a time as possible); the other is to use the next two or more years to build a foundation which will offer an alternative platform for local ministers and congregations.
The 'Third Way' (collective/managed) approach has a clear rationale behind it: however it runs the very real danger of getting itself bogged down in -
- leadership by committee (there are ample and recent precents of this syndrome)
- legal and financial haggling over buildings and assets
- consitutional and constituency issues
"I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization." Charles Ogburn writing on the WWII Burma campaign
The options would seem to be:
The current crisis (and others before and perhaps future) would not occur if the present hierarchy was abandoned and primacy was restored to the local congregations (in localised and mutual accountability with the body of Christ in the same area). In this scenario Queen’s Cross church in Aberdeen would be called to repentance by other local churches or otherwise dis-fellowshipped: end of story.
- a new denomination (it is universally agreed this is the last thing that Scotland needs)
- forming a 'church within a church' (would achieve nothing but compromise and stress)
- joining another presbyterian denomination (the 'third way' grouping has enough problems of its own; the other denominations have enough problems of their own)
- a 'relief presbytery (essentially a temporary measure; it would need to 'move on')
- moving to another model for church government e.g. episcopacy or congregationalism (not likely; they are presbyterians; and presbyterian form, in its best manifestation, is a biblical model)
- moving into an affiliated network (either with other local churches in the respective localities and/or with bodies like the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches
- none of the above, but something God will do
The Associated Presbyterian Churches have a looser form of association; the Free Church of Scotland have been obliged to give 'freedom to choose' to local congregations over a recent issue. Elgin-born scholar Professor F.F. Bruce has written in his book The Spreading Flame':
"There was no idea that the church of one city was subordinate to the church of any other city. Further, there was in those earlier centuries no suggestion that any one church was subordinate to the aggregate of all the churches."
Repair the Foundations
The present problems (in more than the Church of Scotland) drill down to the structures and power blocs that have developed in the name of the ‘church’. It will be interesting (but that’s not quite the right word) how this process will develop.
The ‘set apart’ distinctive of ‘the ministry’ is being eroded by other factors, as circumstances oblige that the ‘laity’ to take on previously-reserved roles. However there is still a love affair – across the board – with buildings which needs to be broken. For leaders they can reflect status and reinforce role, for laity they embody identity and intrinsic permanence. But Jeremiah sternly rebuked the temple worshippers (Jer 7:4) and Jesus struck at the heart of this problem also (Matt 24:1).
The very real positives
Where/when will all this end; where is it all heading? We trust the Lord knows. What future for the Church of Scotland as a denomination? it will survive in some form or another: people love religion, and those who operate religious machinery have a vested interest in maintaining it.
However with the financial woes, the loss of ministers as the post-war baby boom moves into retirement, the present loss of Bible-believers and their financial support, and the unlikelihood of any Bible-faithful young men signing up for training and ordination the prospects to not look good.
But ‘pruning and refining’ are thoroughly biblical concepts and we just might be seeing God clear the building site of rubble in order that Jesus can build His faithful church. The anguish of these processes is already being felt. But, as the saying goes: "No pain; no gain."
What is becoming apparent as a huge positive in all of this, is that there is serious thinking going on which has the possibility of ‘jumping the tracks’ of all that has been in terms of traditional denominationalism.
Maybe, just maybe, there will be a reading of the Acts of the Apostles and a return to early (and more biblical) precepts of meeting, teaching, praying, caring and outreaching together (Acts 2:42 - 47; Acts 4:30 - 37)
Meanwhile to all those of clear and uncompromised faith, conviction and courage, the hymn writer might say:
Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings.
Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.
Rise up, O men of God!
The church [of believers] for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!
Both the meetings in Glasgow –for good and practical reasons – were (mainly) limited to ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland. The down side of this limitation was that the discussions were conducted in a semi-private fashion. However video recordings of the Glasgow meeting have since been made available online.
This has ensured that any Church member, indeed any member of the public can hear what was said. This is in line with the openness to which disciples of Christ are called. We need to 'walk in the light'.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5 - 7)
Fight from within?
The ‘fight from within’ argument (cf Col 2:4) holds out the prospect of a reversal of the present situation (through a 2-year study now in progress) and also cites the Barrier Act (a mechanism which can prevent a General Assembly make any undesirable change) as a means of thwarting any further capitulation to the liberal agenda running within the halls of power within the Church. (Invoking the Barrier Act would add yet another year to the process, with the matter rolling on to 2014: by which time many of the ‘hold on’ view will be in, or heading for, retirement.)
There are two problems here; one extant, the other very likely:
• On such a serious issue and blatant departure from God’s word we see Bible believers in the national church and all the other denominations beyond – in Scotland and around the world – in a situation of having to countenance liberal leaders dragging the church and the nation into a deep ditch of unrepentant sin (cf Matt 15:14; Matt 23:13).
At the meeting in Inverness a reference was made to excuse the ‘establishment’ (of liberal church leaders) for their actions. To paraphrase: “It’s not their fault; it’s the fault of the surrounding culture.” (Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the Serpent.)
Recently one pundit wrote to his newspaper: “Instead of the Church leading society up the hill, society is leading the church down the hill.” Yet the present Church of Scotland Moderator gave the assurance: “We as the National Church will continue to provide guidance and spiritual leadership for the people of Scotland.” With our citizens rioting, the economy bust, the earth quaking, and the nations in famine and flames, the nature of the ‘guidance’ on offer is indeed a big question.
• The study/commission will not report back until 2013. And even if the orthodox position is then restored (and few anticipate that happening), there have already been ‘back door’ attempts to effectively remove or disable the Barrier Act (which has thus far slowed, but evidently not halted the persistent and now very conspicuous ‘falling away’ from God’s Truths; Luke 12:3).
If – as many think – the passage of time will only see the liberal agenda prevail, what will those who have adopted the ‘fight from within do then’? Nothing? Meanwhile the nation is bereft of God’s prophetic voice.
The unmentionable issue
A minister referred in private conversation to a question which he and most of his colleagues are considering, but seldom if ever voice: it is the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’; and it is to do with faith and fear.
“What can a (say) 50-year-old with a wife and family to support do for alternative employment when he is not trained to do anything other than ‘the ministry’?”
It was perhaps a question asked by the Clydeside workforce who built ships; by the car assembly workers at Linwood and the miners in Fife’s coal pits. With these men it was the laws of economics that forced their departure; with ministers, ‘conscience’ is the dynamic and imperative.
But while the demand for ships, cars and coal has all but disappeared from Scotland, the need for sound expository preaching of the Word of God is ever needful. And, for believing ministers (who remain faithful), they have the ever-present all-sufficient God on their side. Speaking immediately after the Assembly decision, one trusting minister exuberantly declared:
“I feel free. I don’t care if I drive a bus to allow me to exercise my ministry and support my family.”
The Westminster Confession of Faith has been the subordinate standard of Presbyterian churches in Scotland and around the world since the time of writing in the mid-17th century. It contains much which is good, but it was a child of its time. Written in a particular historical setting and aimed at addressing particular issues it is (in part) deficient, unbiblical and extra-biblical. It is also ultimately – as the present situation proves – impotent in preventing unbelief and heresy. (If church leaders won’t submit to the authority of God’s word, what hope that they will be governed by any document of human origin?).
But the most serious effect has been to create a form and structure within the Presbyterian fold which has grossly restricted the exercise of whole-body ministry by the priesthood of all believers; while also giving man-made church laws parity with the Word of God.
It has become a sacred cow which defies the ‘Sola Scriptura/Semper Reformanda’ tenets of the Reformers; and it has created unnecessary conflict and division over secondary issues on which believers conscientiously differ. It is overly complex and – if it is to continue to have a place at all – is in need of a radical redrafting.
Some important considerations
The easiest position for a minister to be in is that of being close to retirement. “I don’t want to upset my congregation and then leave them to their fate.” It’s a valid viewpoint. But which is most dangerous? To help the people make the transition, or to leave them amongst a pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing? How will future generations perceive your inaction?
One of the most difficult situations is ministers who are in training or in their first charge. "Why did God call me here unless He wants me here?" Again, this is a valid question.
But balance this with some other questions:
Where is the Church heading? Is it in line with your direction of travel? How will your walk with God fare whilst surrounded by a spiritually-toxic environment? What happens if your Kirk Session – present or future – is a ‘mixed bag’ (as many/most are)? What happens if in two or more years time the church slides even further into rebellion? How will you respond if, as many anticipate, performing same-sex ceremonies becomes mandatory?
[The Scottish Parliament has just launched a 'consultation' on civil partnerships with a statement outlining the government's support for churches to be available (as they would wish) for civil partnership ceremonies. Part of the remit to the theological commission is to develop a liturgy. A Christian MSP is concerned that what is initially 'permissive' will move to become mandatory under law.]
The notion of the ‘broad’ Church
There will ever be unbelief and deception within the church, but arguments based on ‘wheat and tares’ and ‘sheep and goats’ should not be used as an excuse for a ‘broad’ – increasingly heretical – church. Such arguments lead believers into a compliant fatalism and inaction: encouraging passive acceptance of all that we see; gross error included.
Conversely, the constant and consistent biblical response should be to root out error and false teaching in the body; to expose it for what it is; and to dis-fellowship those who are in unrepentant rebellion against God’s Word and God’s authority (Eph 5:11; 1 John 1:6).
The dynamics of the spirit world
The enemy of God is described sometimes as a roaring lion and sometimes as a cunning serpent. Satan and his demonic spirits could have a field day in all of this.
Spirit of Pride
This is by far and away the worst sin and the one which caused Satan’s fall.
The voice of the enemy (VoE):
“You are leading a big congregation in a fine building; you don’t want to lose these things do you?” You surely don’t want to go back to a village hall with just a few folk (however committed they might be).”
“After all you are a minister/elder/member of/in the national Church of Scotland.”
The Word of God (WoG):
“Go on this is a chance to make a name for yourself. You could become leader of the pack; a 21st century John Knox. Your name could go down in history.”
And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass (Lev 26:19) for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt 23:12) Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the market-places and to have men call them 'Rabbi'. (|Matt 23:5-7)
Temple worship and idolatry
“It’s your preaching platform.” “You’ve put a lot of money and effort into improvements.” “Why should the denomination get it.” “Your great-grandfather helped to build it.” “Where else could you meet?”
”Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!" (Jer 7:4) And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. (Matt 24:1) The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? (1 Cor 6:7).
Spirit of Fear
“You are just entering the ministry. You only got here with the help of the denomination. You can only go on with the help of the denomination.”
“You are at mid-life. You are not trained to do anything else. You have a wife and family to support.”
“You need a heavyweight structure around you to handle legal questions, tax issues, etc.” What about your pension?
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt 6:25-33)
Having done all things, stand
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Eph 6:10 - 13)
Postscript: The above article is a 'work in progress'. Responses can be made via the 'Add Your Response' button below; or alternatively directly to the Editor by e-mail <click here> or editor(at sign)christianstogether.net
Given that the situation is extremely varied, confused and changing rapidly, your view will be as good as anyones.
Footnote: The imperative for all believers in the Church of Scotland is to seek fellowship and Truth wherever these things can be found. (Read Acts 2:42 - 47 and Acts 4:31 - 37. See also 'What to look for in a church.'
LATEST NEWS: A lesbian minister in Fife has stated that she wishes to enter into a same-sex civil partnership. This development will further fuel the flames and puts the Church of Scotland into a crisis of discipline.