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Presbyterianism - Scottish style

With the national Church of Scotland continuing to be embroiled in matters of sexuality (which could "sink the church"), it is perhaps worthwhile to remind ourselves of the history of the Scottish post-Reformation Presbyterian scene by way of -

first published 25/01/09

  A (Very) Brief History of the Presbyterian Christian Church in Scotland

 For updates see the foot of this article.
(Click here for most recent: May 2013)
  Picture of the 'Disruption' Assembly in 1843    
General Overview

There are five main cohorts of churches in Scotland; these being Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, other denominations [e.g. Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal et al) and the ‘new churches’ which formed during and since the Charismatic (neo-Pentecostal) Movement of the 1960s/70s].

Pre-7th century Christianity in Scotland

In an earlier age, Scotland was significantly exposed to the Gospel by St. Columba and his followers in the 6th-century; indeed some would argue that traders first carried the Gospel message to these shores during the 1st century AD. It may be that early disciples brought what was birthed in Jerusalem at Pentecost back along the Roman trade routes into Scotland. What can certainly be said is that St. Ninian built Whithorn Abbey – his Magnum Monasterium – in the latter half of the 4th century, and his name is preserved in many places on the eastern side of Scotland, even as far north as St. Ninian's Isle in Shetland.

7th - 15th Century

From the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire (and the evacuation from Britain in 410) through to the middle of the 2nd millennium is the period now referred to as 'The Dark Ages' with a patchy historical record.
However there is (at least) one account which speaks of Christianity standing firm in Scotland. In 635, following a resurgence of paganism in the north of England, King Oswald – who, as a prince, had lived on Iona for 18 years – sought to rally his people and sent messengers to Iona (not Canterbury) that the elders of the Scots 'would send him a bishop, by whose instruction and ministry the English nation, which he governed, might be taught the advantages, and receive the sacraments of the Christian faith.'
Nevertheless and during this period the Celtic Church was largely weakened by the 7th-century Synod of Whitby (664)which saw the customs of the Roman Catholic Church (inherited from Augustine, Pope Gregory’s emissary to England) win the day.
But in spite of the prevailing Roman influence, the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 affirmed a Scottish independence which stressed the prerogative of the Scottish people, rather than the King or the Pope.

The Reformation

The next major influence on the Christian church in Scotland came with the 16th-century Reformation in 1560, and the teachings of Knox and Calvin which created a split throughout the whole of Europe. The reformed churches in Scotland adopted a Presbyterian form of government (by ‘elders’) and this produced a further split when those who chose to adhere to a hierarchical form (prelacy, with bishops and archbishops) formed the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1582.

This division ultimately, in 1689, produced what we now know as the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland. Though largely created by the Reformation more than a century earlier, at this point the Church of Scotland became established by law. [In the years that followed, the Episcopal Church had to contend with restrictive legislation and lost considerable support.]

However, the Church of Scotland's pre-eminence has always been diluted by the persistence prescence of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches in Scotland and, in the 18th and early 19th-century, a succession of splits and reunions [ Burghers and Anti-Burgers, Old Lichts and New Lichts et al ] produced an extremely confusing and fragmented picture of Scottish Presbyterianism.

The 1843 Disruption

The Kirk (as the Church of Scotland came to be known) was further undermined by the Disruption in 1843 when a substantial minority of clergy and laity left the Church of Scotland and formed the Free Church of Scotland over matters of Erastianism (State interference with church affairs) and Patronage (clergy being appointed by landlords rather than congregations).

Subsequent Unions and Divisions

The Free Church itself was further divided in 1893 and again in 1900. In 1893 the Free Presbyterian Church seceeded from the Free Church because of the introduction of a 'liberty of conscience clause' pertaining to the Westminster Confession of Faith (see Footnote), and in 1900 the majority of the Free Church joined with the United Presbyterian Church to form the United Free Church.
However a minority within the Free Church chose not to enter this union and continued as the Free Church (of Scotland).The United Free Church of Scotland, (re)united with the Church of Scotland in 1929, although again a minority remained outside this union and continued as the United Free Church of Scotland.

Late 20th and early 21st Century

In the late 20th century two further splits occurred.

The first in 1989 when the Free Presbyterian Church split to produce a new grouping called the Associated Presbyterian Church(es). (The reform/conservative tensions within the FP Church came to a head when the Church disciplined one of its elders for attending a memorial service for a Roman Catholic friend. The elder concerned happened to be, at the time, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain - the highest law lord in the UK.)

Then in 2000 a substantial minority left the Free Church to form the Free Church (Continuing) over a disagreement regarding internal church discipline relating to a senior figure in the Church’s ranks. However substantial reform/conservative tensions underlay the secession.

The Church of Scotland remains by far the largest Presbyterian denomination in Scotland. It is described as being a "broad church" embracing a very wide spectrum across the conservative-to-liberal landscape. Some see this 'inclusiveness' as a strength: it is also however the Kirk's greatest weakness. The denomination is - and has been for around 50 years - internally divided over the matter of sexuality. These tensions have increased since the advent of Civil Partnerships and 'gay marriage'.  And at the time of writing (Jan 2009) these matters are increasingly coming to a head. Accordingly the chart below might soon require futher amendment.

UPDATE (March 2011)

In November 2009 the Free Church of Scotland held a Plenary Assembly to decide on whether to allow hymns and instruments to take their place alongside unaccompanied psalm-singing. In effect the decision to allow individual congregations to decide each for itself has caused serious disruption and division within the denomination.
One minister, Rev. Kenneth Stewart, has left the Free Church and applied to join the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland while five former Moderators have placed prominent notices in several newspapers effectively challenging the legality of the proceedings at the Plenary Assembly. It is likely that the question will be prominent at the time of the Free Church of Scotland General Assembly (May 2011).

Meanwhile the Church of Scotland General Assembly (May 2011) is due to receive and consider a report from a two-year analysis on the question of human sexuality and civil partnerships.


UPDATE (March 2012)

At its General Assembly in May 2011, the Church of Scotland again failed to clearly define the denominations attitudes and responses to the issue of homosexuality. As many saw this Assembly as a 'line in the sand', some minsters, elders, members and congregations have left the denomination with others are planning to do so. Meanwhile some are fighting a rearguard battle in terms of (yet another) study into the whole issue. (See report 'Harvest is past; the summer has ended' which contains links to other relevant articles.)

One result of the above is the appearance of two new presbyterian denominations in Scotland – with one in Leith (Edinburgh) and another in Inverness (respectively).

Within the Free Church of Scotland there continues to be division along reform/traditional lines – manifest at this time on whether or not to sing hymns and employ musical instruments. Some (ministers, elders and members) have left the Free Church while some disaffected Church of Scotland members have joined it.

In all of this, the question 'Where to the Presbyterian Church in Scotland' remains a very live issue.


UPDATE (October 2012)

Church of Scotland

In the current year leading up to the Church of Scotland's forthcoming General Assembly in May 2013 there have been reports of backroom discussions (contingency planning of a 'jump-ship' nature) between disaffected Church of Scotland ministers and the Free Church of Scotland denomination. These have been with regard to the possibility of the latter offering a home to the former if the forthcoming Assembly decision is one which evangelical clergy find the cannot accept.
[The 2013 Assembly is due to be presented with, consider as a body, and respond to the ruminations of a Special Commission set up in 2011: this body has been tasked with examining the ramifications of same-sex marriages in a religious (church) context.]

The possibility of 'clergy-transfer' has been substantially eased by the Free Church's partial acceptance (i.e. at congregational discretion rather than as denominational policy) of the use of hymns and instruments in praise and worship. However there remain several issues which could mitigate against any flitting across denominational lines.

Church of Scotland ministers enjoy very favourable conditions of employment and these come at a financial cost – one which the cash-strapped Free Church denomination might struggle to accommodate. And of course cross-border movements would raise issues of 'parity' with and amongst existing Free Church clergy who are generally not-so-well-off as their C of S colleagues..

Additionally there is the issue of a minister 'coming across' along with his ( to say 'her' is not an option, as female ministers are beyond the Free Church pale: at this point in time at least) elders and/or congregation. Also, the Kirk has many women elders while the Free Church - as a theological posture - has none. In the Free Church women (mainly) don't pray out in the company of men: in the Church of Scotland they do.

The thorny  question of buildings

Then of course there is the question of buildings – occupancy and ownership; moral and legal.
In this matter the Church of Scotland has a vested interest in making life very hard for the one congregation which has thus far decamped from the denomination while wishing to retain its church building.
The minister, elders and congregation of the iconic St. George's Tron church in the centre of Glasgow have taken their stand and – as Moses did in the face of corporate sin – gone 'outside of the camp' (Exodus 33:7).

Accordingly, other ministers and congregations who may be contemplating any similar moves will be watching the 'Tron' situation very closely. And both the liberal clerics and the denominational bureaucrats who have a huge personal and corporate interest in discouraging further departures know that.
They are also keenly aware that further secessions would diminish both the standing of and the regular income to the Kirk and its coffers respectively. (Evangelical congregations are traditionally much better in their week-by-week financial givings than their liberal counterparts.)

Evangelical clergy face the 'carrot and stick' of maintaining their secure C of S positions, or being left to swing in the wind if they don't, are powerful influences. So the minister and the good folk of the Tron could find themselves - as an example to any others contemplating similar moves - deprived of building and ‘out in the cold’: expediently utilised as per Voltaire's satirical description of Admiral John Byng's execution: ".....pour encourager les autres" ("it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others").
[Ed note: see STOP PRESS at the foot of this update for latest developments.]

In the light of all of that, both the evangelical and the liberal wings in the denomination are strongly motivated to produce a 'work-around' – any solution which will keep organisation together whatever the cost to spiritual integrity.

It is perhaps anticipating such a situation that former Church of Scotland congregations have now withdrawn from the national church and aligned themeselves with other denominations. Included in the list are congregations in Inverness and Aberdeen.

Who knows what the forthcoming Commission report and the General Assembly's response will produce? To employ Churchillian phraseology, these back-room machinations invariably appear as "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma".
What is most likely – if past outcomes are anything to go by – is another fudge. So the trumpet – if indeed it sounds at all – will again produce a 'cracked note' (1 Cor. 14:8).

So some brave evangelicals will face into the wind while others .....?.

Free Church of Scotland

The Free Church of Scotland which is theologically split over the issues of what to sing and whether to employ instruments in the process has – for the moment at least – found a 'modus vivendi' of allowing each congregation to decide for itself.  Whether this will draw a line under the reform/conservative tensions remains to be seen.

[ It is often the case that amongst the progressive/modernising wing of any organisation there are some who – after a period of change from the status quo – feel that the reforms have gone too far; and so then revert to the position(s) from whence they earlier departed.
Others can feel that while the reforms were beneficial, they have not gone far enough; and further 'modernising' steps need to be taken. Life is not easy and never straightforward within Scottish Presbyterianism.]

A call for ecclesiastical joinery

At least one discussion paper has recently been written suggesting a 'coming together' of the right-wing denominations within the reformed presbyterian spectrum. The basis of the suggested reunion is that all four groupings have two very important things in common.

The first of these is a strict adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith. This 17th-century document is the sine qua non – the bedrock of reformed presbyterianism theology and ecclesiology: it is the totem pole of tribal identity and regarded as the supreme emblem (for those who hold fast to it) of scriptural fidelity. It is accorded a reverence and – as a supreme irony in 'reforming' circles – considered by many to be unimpeachable; beyond the prospect of revision; sacrosanct and fixed for all time.

The second (and derivative) factor, which is implicit rather than stated, is the 'exclusive psalmody' tradition of nothing but psalms; and sung in the 'a cappella' tradition of no instrumental accompaniment'.

Another commonality is the fact that the denominations which fall within the above ambit are all either small or very small. So leaving aside theological imperatives and worldly considerations such as potential benefits of economies of scale, there is the very human tendency, in situations of threat and isolation, to huddle together for warmth. [As a counter however, two of the named denominations were the result of a split as recently as 1989; and healing can sometimes take a lot longer than that.]

NB. A cursory glance at the appended chart of presbyterian schism and reunion might suggest that such moves, when they do happen, happen very quickly. This is not generally the case. The foment that led to the Disruption of 1843 lasted 10 years. In reverse fashion, the negotiations that led to the majority of the United Free Church rejoining the Church of Scotland lasted from 1908 to1929, surviving a world war but taking an act of Parliament to achieve.

(Interim) Conclusion

The theological disagreements and concomitant political maneouverings which have been the hallmark of Scottish Presbyterianism through the centuries show no sign of abating. Neither is it likely that the steady march of secessions and subsequent reunions will produce any improvement regarding the spiritual potency or the inate authority of the various groupings. (With what the world would see as a factional tribalism, how can it be otherwise? The Word of God also has a view: Ps 133:1-2; John 13:35; John 17:21.)

However God is not God unless He has the ability to use even the most spiritually-derelict of circumstances for His purposes and for His glory; and for the extension of the Kingdom and the saving of souls. In fact the route to salvation is through utter brokenness. Perhaps in all of this and in the unsearchable mysteries of God there is a greater sovereign purpose? Pray that the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will shine through the murk of human weakness.

 - - - - - - - - -


Another Church of Scotland minister has just now 'signed up' with the Free Church. with Rev. Paul Gibson (formerly Tain parish church).

Speaking to The Scotsman, he said that the decision had not been easy for him: “I was baptised in the Church of Scotland, I grew up in the Kirk and continue to have many dear friends who remain in the church, so I think I speak for those who have left in recent years that it is with great pain and upset that we’ve felt the need to withdraw and move on."

He also spoke of the Kirk's "erroneous liberal agenda" and the "systematic dismantling of the true gospel" over the ordination of homosexual ministers. Disclaiming any sense of bravado, but with a sense of great sadness he stated: "after many years of liberalism and political-style manoeuvring, the Church of Scotland has reached a point where the only thing that’s not tolerated is Biblical orthodoxy.”

Rev. Gibson's departure follows on from similar actions taken by other Church of Scotland ministers.

- - - - - - -
The Tron Church (Glasgow) has now written (4/10/12) to the Church of Scotland Glasgow Presbytery to give their position since the congregation seceded from the denomination on 11 June 2012. Part of the text (which has been communicated to the congregation) states:

"At the time of our Secession we said that we very much hoped to work for a peaceable and reasonable settlement of outstanding issues. In the same week we therefore visited the Chairman and Secretary of the General Trustees personally to assure them of our best intentions, and we handed over a cheque for our then outstanding loan repayment as an act of good faith.

We also made early contact with David Lunan and agreed to co-operate fully with his committee. This we have done, meeting Mr Lunan several times, and providing all requested information. We also strongly encouraged them to attend Sunday and Wednesday services to see something of what our congregational life and witness involves, surely crucial in any discussion of the future of the building and its use. In short, we have sought to do what we can to seek a constructive way forward. Unfortunately, in return we have been met with a very hostile response from the Church of Scotland."

Click here to read the full text of the letter

UPDATE (February 2013)

Aberdeen church leaves
Believers from within Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen's Union Street is the latest congregation to leave the Church of Scotland over the latter's policy of allowing active homosexuals to serve as ministers.
Rev. Dominic Smart and the congregation have left the denomination and their imposing and iconic building in Aberdeen's main street. The departure has been more-or-less in progress since the General Assembly of 2009 which allowed homosexual clergy to remain as practising parish ministers within the Church of Scotland.

While the Gilgomston congregation was in much the same position as the Tron Church in Glasgow with respect to the recent and very substantial investment in modernising the church building, the manner of these departures wer in marked contrast. The latter being as undisputatious as such a significant event – with the attendant media attention – would allow.
A letter from Rev. Smart to the congregation was posted on-line. It has been published in full with interpolated summaries in the article 'Aberdeen church leaves the Church of Scotland.'

- - - - - - - -

UPDATE (May 2013)

The Church of Scotland in General Assembly has agreed - while officially upholding its traditional stance on heterosexual marriage -  to allow local congregations to call actively-homosexual clergy.
See 'Kirk confirms its spiritual demise'.

- - - - - - - -

Click on the updated chart below for a PDF (Acrobat) A4 version –with hyperlinks included.

Footnote:  All the presbyterian denominations subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith as the "Subordinate Standard" defining core beliefs. The 17th-century document is flawed; and the varying degrees of allegiance to it continues to cause problems. (See article: 'The Westminster Confession of Faith: a critique'.

Reformation History
See also Reformation History website which covers the period from 1500 to 1685. The Timeline makes reference to 'People/Events',  the monarchs in Scotland and England during that time, and key documents relating to the history of the Reformation in what eventually became the United Kingdom. The period covers the English civil wars and the 'Killing Times' relating to the Scottish Covenanters. (Author: Christians Together)

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An Ellel Ministries Centre Director, a former spiritualist and a Christian web site offer views on demon-possession and the churches ministry to those affected. (Author: Christians Together and friends)

Indian church on Christians Together
As part of the international membership on Christians Together a letter and pictures have been received recently from a church and ministry in India. (Author: Pastor M. Mary)

Kingdom or Empire building: that is the question
A letter to a national newspaper has raised the question of whether the Christian church should be embarking on expensive building programmes. (Author: Watchman)

From violence and crime to a life of compassion
Eddie Murison as a child experienced violence and rejection which led him into serious crime and imprisonment. Yet while in prison his life was changed and he draws on his experiences to help others. (Author: Christians Together)

The Pope and the RC church are unique
Of all the world's religious systems and organisations the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church are unique in terms of the influence that they can wield on governments, politicians and heads of state. (Author: Christians Together)

Scotland 1560: quite a summer so far
Following the storms of last winter which decimated the French fleet off Scotland's shores, and the death of Mary of Guise, John Knox the religious firebrand is now in pole position in the nation. (Author: A Scottish pundit in August 1560AD)

What's on the spiritual radar screen?
A a verse from the second book of Chronicles (7:14) makes a call to "turn from our wicked ways". A 20th-century radar scan makes some suggestions. (Author: A Radar Operator)

Rescued from the demonic
Laura Maxwell has just published a book which gives her testimony of how she was set free from tragic involvement with the New Age, Spiritualism and the demonic. (Author: Laura Maxwell/Christians Together)

Cardiologist's prayer raises man from the dead
Through a prayer prompted by the Holy Spirit, cardiologist Doctor Chauncey Carndall witnessed God bringing a man who had died brought back to life. (Author: Gospel for Asia/Christians Together)

The Miracle of Dunkirk: 70 years on
The Trumpet Sounds for Britain is a trilogy - latterly published as a single volume - which chronicles the hand of God in our nation over the centuries and includes a truly prophetic call to us today. (Author: David E. Gardner)

From Eden to Kingdom Come
What promises has God made to us and what (if any) restrictions and conditions does he place on us? The anwers to fundamental questions rooted in ancient times shape much of what we believe and how we act in our 21st-century Christian lives and churches. (Author: Christians Together)

Christians' livelihoods under threat
As the liberal elite in the political, media and the legal establishment increasingly move against God's principles, Christians are finding their very livelihoods at risk. (Author: Watchman)

Lead us not into temptation. Please.
Are current concerns being exploited in a money-making fashion that gives the enemy of God a potential foothold into the lives of His people? (Author: Editorial)

Revivals in the Highlands: Part 4
Alex Muir's concluding article on revivals in the Scottish Highlands was published just before his Homecall to Glory in March 2010. A tribute will be published elsewhere (d.v.) (Author: Alex Muir/Sword Magazine)

Revivals in the Highlands: Part 3
Alex Muir continues his study of how the Holy Spirit works in revivals by focussing on the 19th-century Scottish Highlands. (Author: Alex Muir/Sword Magazine)

The Times of the Signs
Charles Gardner reports on the chaos in our world and gives a view of current events from Middle East expert Lance Lambert who lives in Israel. (Author: Lifebite News)

The spiritual condition of the United States
Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis gave a challenging address to a worldwide audience earlier this week when he examined the spiritual health of America. (Author: Christians Together)

Revivals in the Highlands: Part 2
In the second of a 4-part article Alex Muir continues the story of how God has worked in the Highlands and Inverness through Rev. Robert Bruce (Author: Alex Muir/Sword Magazine)

Where do our doctrines come from?
Are our hopes and beliefs based on traditions, theological constructs and even paperback best-sellers - or the Word of God? Corrie Ten Boom invites the question. (Author: Corrie Ten Boom)

A Covenant-keeping God
A sovereign and unchanging God has employed covenants and promises as benchmarks for human behaviour and to inform mankind regarding his eternal purposes. (Author: Christians Together)

Teacher sacked for speaking of her faith
A Christian teacher who was sacked for speaking about her faith and felt that she was being persecuted by new equality and diversity policies, has been reinstated. (Author: Christian Legal Centre)

Evolution: blind faith and bogus science
Ever have trouble getting to grips with the 'Evolution versus Creation' debate?. Philip Wren says, don't leave it to the scientists - and don't leave evolution's lies to your children. (Author: Philip Wren)

Chinese pastor jailed on far-fetched charge
Alimjan Yimit has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on the apparently contrived charge of "providing state secrets to overseas organizations." (Author: Christians Together)

Prosperity Gospel invades the church
When the Bible speaks about riches it splits down two ways. Heavenly riches are to be sought after; earthly riches are depicted as a snare. (Author: Andrew Strom)

Evil Spirits dominate, manipulate, intimidate
Paul wrote that 'our struggle is not against flesh and blood ....but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil..' (Author: Sandy Shaw)

R U 2 bi C 2?
Satan wants us to be either flat on our backs or run off our feet. Jesus invited his first disciples to 'Come apart..' If we don't we risk coming apart. (Author: Christians Together)

Suffering Church Sunday - November 2009
The Barnabas Fund is encouraging church congregations to set aside a Sunday in November to remember those who are being persecuted for their faith. (Author: Christians Together)

Danger! Peace and Unity ahead!
In a world threatened by war and division, who can ignore the cries for peace. And the global community is certain of where the trouble lies. (Author: Sword Magazine)

Revivals in the Highlands: Part 1
Rev. Alex Muir has researched how God has worked in the past and speaks of revivals as something that we can long for but not generate. (Author: Alex Muir/Sword Magazine)

A Warning from Wick
A 'vacancy' crisis in Wick raises some serious questions for ministry in the body of Christ at large regarding the building up of God's people. (Author: Christians Together)

The Blindness of Revelation
Can visits from God leave us blinded or resistant even to subsequent moves of the Holy Spirit? (Author: Steve Taylor)

Seer Training: Christian or mysticism
A church in Scotland which is part of a mainstream denomination is running a course on Seer Training. Is this forward thinking or a route into occultic mysticism? (Author: Watchman)

Healing Meetings with John Mellor
Christian Fellowship of Healing (Highlands) are sponsoring a number of meetings in the Inverness and Alness areas for those needing God's healing. (Author: Christian Fellowship of Healing)

Drilling down on Christian issues
Matters over which Christians differ are often predicated on 'fundamentals' which, though viewed as sacrosanct, sometimes lack a biblical foundation. (Author: Christians Together)

Loneliness leads leader to the lost
A Christian pastor has re-awakened a dormant drama interest in order to engage the lost and as a counter to personal loneliness. (Author: Have your say)

Pubs 'n' Boats 'n' Planes 'n' Sundays
A couple of 'archive articles' on Sunday activities relating to and prompted by the pressures by hotels, and boats and planes on the traditions of the Hebrides. (Author: The Editor)

Are the new 'Confessing Fellowships' meeting the needs of the cause of Christ or merely serving as palliatives to feelings of shame and insecurity? (Author: Watchman)

An open letter at a difficult time
At this difficult and distressing time within the body of Christ in Scotland it is good to remember in prayer those who are undergoing trial and upset. (Author: Colin)

Susan and Joanna: enacted parables for our age
Two ladies from very different backgrounds in two very different situations inspired millions: they were enacted parables for our age. (Author: Christians Together)

The Primacy of the Local Church - an oft-subverted truth
The Primacy of the Local Church, as a biblical doctrine, is often rolled out and re-stated when hierarchies stray, but conveniently ignored when peace prevails. (Author: Watchman)

Fellowship of Confessing Churches
With the launch of a new evangelical grouping within the Church of Scotland, we could be seeing a tsunami starting to break upon the shores of the Kirk and the nation. (Author: Christians Together)

Where to the presbyterian church in Scotland?
Woody Allen might have a 'word' for the Church of Scotland as it meets in General Assembly in May. But in spite of the prognosis there is, and has got to be, hope. (Author: Watchman)

Rick Warren on the ropes
Rick Warren, megachurch purpose-driven pastor and friend of President Obama is enmeshed in controversy regarding his stance on gay marriage. (Author: Christians Together)

40 years on
Sandy Shaw is a Nairn-based pastor and teacher. He tells his story of how God spoke to him as a young boy; and 40 years after a fresh empowering of the Holy Spirit. (Author: Sandy Shaw)

Megachurch meltdown?
The wheels were already coming off the megachurch train before the present economic crisis caused it to come crashing into the buffers. (Author: Watchman)

Night Church
A group of Christians who gathered to pray and ask God how to connect with their local community found that their prayers were answered very quickly and in an unexpected way. (Author: Christians Together / Spotlight)

South Africa, Mighty Men and Revival
Angus Buchan is a farmer of Scot's descent who saw 60,000 men gather in South Africa last year. Andrew Strom now sends a follow-up report. (Author: Christians Together)

Obituary for an Old Friend
No one knows how old he was, and a combination of different factors gave rise to a protacted period of debilitating illness which meant that he died in obscurity (Author: The London Times)

Churchgoing not in decline, says Tearfund
Churchgoing is not in decline, according to figures released by Tearfund today which show that one in four adults in the UK attend church at least once a year. (Author: Christians Together)

Search for Alison on iPlayer
A TV programme of Rev. Kenny and Reta MacDonald's search for their daughter Alison who went missing in Kashmir in 1981 is now available on-line; but hurry (Author: Christians Together)

The Kirk on dangerous ground
The national Church of Scotland is moving in a direction which could bring the Kirk into direct conflict with God's purposes for society and the world. (Author: Christians Together)

Christianity and Other Ways to God
A recent poll shows alarming levels of wrong belief amongst American 'Christians' - but it's not a problem confined to America. (Author: Watchman)

The Westminster Confession: past help, present hindrance?
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a creedal document which is placing unbiblical restrictions on believers' remembrance of the Lord's death. (Author: Watchman)

Employee or servant of God?
A legal conundrum involving a Highland minister and his church has implications for the relationship between the church of Christ and the state - the issue behind the 1843 Disruption. (Author: Christians Together)

The Transit Camp
The interregnum between the (spiritual) fall of King Saul and the coronation of David as Israel's king would have been a unsettling time for God's people. A bit like being in a transit camp. (Author: Christians Together)

Little Red Riding Hood and PC
Little Red Riding Hood - and the current levels of control and oppression being exercised through what has become know as Political Correctness. (Author: Bryan Hupperts)

Micah Sunday - prophetic challenge or cop-out?
Christians are being encouraged to lobby politicians to care for the poor around the world. But is this a 'prophetic call' or a hypocritical cop-out? (Author: Watchman)

Christians under pressure
Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has come under fire in the States, and it seems that evangelicals the world over are coming under real pressure. (Author: Lifebite)

Letter from Muslim leaders to the Pope
In 2006, Muslim scholars wrote to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders urging greater understanding between the two faiths. The story continues..... (Author: )

Christians apologise for praying during Ramadan
A group of Christians in the city of Oxford have apologised to Muslims for 'having the audacity' of organising a Day of Prayer during Ramadan. (Author: Cranmer Blog)

Crises in church and nation
Three important documents from the Maranatha Community in Manchester. These provide vital information for every intercessor and all those concerned for the church and the nation (Author: Christians Together / Marantha Community)

An Age of Hunger - lessons from recent events
Following the events and recent developments surrounding meetings in Florida, Rev. Dr. Clifford Hill writes on "An Age of [spiritual] Hunger". (Author: Rev. Dr. Clifford Hill)

Prepare for difficult times
Corrie Ten Boom wrote a message in 1974 which she impressed upon David Pawson at the end of her life in this world in 1983. The message is to 'prepare' the people. (Author: Corrie Ten Boom)

The Shaping of Things to Come
A review of the book The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church (Authors Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch) (Author: Eddie Arthur)

Son of Hamas leader comes to Christ
Masab Yousef is the son of a prominent Hamas leader and politician. In an interview with an Israeli media source he tells of his journey to Christ and the true nature of Hamas. (Author: Christians Together)

Christian preachers face arrest in Birmingham
A police community support officer ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham. (Author: Daily Telegraph)

Organic Church
Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, (Author: Frank Viola)

Church Life
Church Life (Author: )

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