The Church of Scotland denies God's plans
If the recent decision to permit Kirk congregations to call actively-gay ministers was not enough, the national church has sealed its fate by refuting the eternal and unchanging purposes of God for the Jews.
------------- What church leaders of old said; and what is being denied now -------------------
The cause of Israel, which we plead, is one that has interested the saints of God in every age; but we wish you specially to remark that it is a cause which God has brought into view, whenever there was any thing to be done in His kingdom below.
Rev. Andrew Bonnar (1810 - 1892)
Think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews.
Matchless benefits to the world are bound up with the restoration of Israel; their gathering in shall be as 'life from the dead'.
C. H. Spurgeon (1834 - 1892)
The Inheritance of Abraham
(report to General Assembly, May 2013)
Convener of the Church and Society Council
A Church of Scotland 'Church and Society' report released two weeks ago caused such an adverse reaction from the worldwide Jewish community that a group Jewish leaders met with Kirk representatives to present their concerns.
This week, 'The Inheritance of Abraham' document which denied God's special purposes for the Jews and the nation of Israel was accepted by the national church, meeting in its annual General Assembly.
The Times newspaper (18 May) writing prior to the Assembly (which also discussed the vital matter of homosexual clergy):
The liberal wing [of the Church] limps into [the same-sex] battle this week having shot itself in the foot whith the publication of a report on the future of Israel and the Occupied Territories. To many observers, the opening sentences appear to question the very foundation of Israel, and what followed was one-sided and contentious. Jewish groups all over the world were outraged: this was a document "fit for the [Spanish] Inquisition" declared the Jerusalem Post. Daniel Taub, the Israeli Ambassador to Britian wrote and anguished letter the the Moderator.
Rev. David Torrance
Meanwhile, and again in advance of the Assembly, Rev. David Torrance, a most senior (retired) Church of Scotland minister wrote to three national newspapers commenting on the report. In his letter he stated:
When my brother [Very Rev. Professor] T. F. Torrance was [the Church of Scotland] Moderator in 1976-77, the Israeli Government invited him to Israel, invited him to address the Academy of Science and welcomed him as a representative of the only country in Europe which had not persecuted the Jew. In the light of the Council's Report it is hardly surprising if the Church of Scotland is no longer held with such respect by Israel and by Jews.
Those who have spent many years reading and studying the background of the Middle East, seeking to understand something of the incredible complexity of the situation, and who pray and genuinely long for justice and peace for both Jews and Palestinians, can only feel badly let down by this Report.
( Rev. Torrance wrote to the Church of Scotland in 2007
in response to the latter's pronouncements on Israel in that year.)
We deeply regret the General Assembly's approval of a document that provides a veneer of theological respectability for what is effectively a call for the destruction of the State of Israel as well as an unacceptable attack on Judaism.
Even more sadly, in the light of your intervention and others', it can no longer be excused as merely having been written without any thought as to its interpretation, and its impact on Jewish people living throughout Scotland.
In essence the report has taken the wraps off two very important attitudes within the national church (and not just the national church) which have been running for years as a thinly-veiled undercurrents.
The first of these is anti-semitism.
Of course the predicable response to that charge is the claim that to be anti-Israel is not the same as being anti-semitic; and this is true of course. However a brief glance at the recent history of reports produced by the Kirk's committees on 'World Mission
' and 'Church and Society
' illustrates the inordinate and totally disproportionate time and effort spent commenting and reporting on the situation in modern-day Israel. So the question must be: "Why Israel?" With all the truly despotic regimes around the world and all the Islamic-inspired violence – against Jews and Christians not least – in so many countries today, why do these committees, using the 'peace and justice' ticket as they do, spend so much time criticising what has been the only democracy in the region; a Jewish nation which also includes Arab as citizens and members of government?
The second, and from the perspective of heaven, is even more important.
What The Inheritance of Abraham
document sets out, is a denial of what God has promised in an 'eternal and unconditional' fashion. In a unilateral covenant with Abraham, which required nothing of the Jewish patriarch, God made three clear and irrevocable pledges:
1. The promise of (the) land (Gen. 12:1). God called Abraham from his homeland to a land that He would give him (Gen. 12:1). This promise is later reiterated (Gen.13:14-18) and its dimensions also defined (Gen. 15:18-21).
2. The promise of descendants. God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of him (Gen 12:9) and that nations and kings would descend from the aged patriarch (Gen 17:6).
3. The promise of blessing and redemption
(Gen. 12:3). God promised to bless Abraham and the families of the earth through him. This promise is amplified in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) and has to do with "Israel's spiritual blessing and redemption."
The fact that God has made a choice in having a 'chosen people' infuriates the human spirit.
The unconditional and eternal nature of the covenant outworked through Sarah (not Hagar); through Isaac (not Ishmael) and Jacob (not Esau), is summed up by the Psalmist who wrote:
He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit." (Psalm 105: 8 - 10).
Of course the fact that God has made a choice in having 'chosen people' infuriates the human spirit. The notion that the Almighty deigns to do what He wants, when He wants and through whomsoever He wants is such an affront to the world it is hardly surprising that anti-semitism is the most enduring and universal form of genocidal hatred the world has ever seen.
While one might puzzle why it is found in sections of the church which purports to believe the Word of God it suggests that many within the institutions which claim that name either do not know God's Word or, if they do, are not prepared to accept it.
The following videos illustrate the nature of the political and spiritual battle which surrounds a little nation the size of Wales or the American state of New Jersey.
"What strikes the historian surveying anti-Semitism worldwide over more than two millennia is its fundamental irrationality." (Historian Paul Johnson)
Ultimately the enduring phenomenon of anti-semitism cannot be explained in human terms. It is a spiritual dynamic and the hatred of Israel and the impelling desire to destroy the Jews can only be understood in purely spiritual terms.
But what the Church of Scotland has done this last week is to have set itself on a collision course with God. If, as the Times' article suggested, the liberal wing of the Kirk 'shot itself in the foot', the Assembly by adopting the report has effectively shot the Church of Scotland in the head.
In His further words to Abraham God warned: "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse"
(Gen 12:3). But for those – including those within the Church of Scotland – who have little regard for the veracity of God's Word or His ability to fulfil His intentions, these words will hold no threat whatsoever.
Because of the increasing anti-semitism in society and the church, a section of the website relating to Israel now appears as a main menu item (Esther 414).
The article 'Israel, the world and the church' (first published in Christians Together in the Winter of 2000/1) outlines a Biblical and historical worldview. Both the political (Zech 14:2 - 4) and the spiritual battles (Ps 83:4) will go on until Christ returns.