Evangelicals and Moderates

The evangelical Calvinists who recognised the good old ways of the Reformers found themselves trapped between an increasingly rigid adherence to the Westminster Theology regularly identified as “gospel” by the “orthodox”, and a puritanised form of rationalistic Calvinism encased in a hard federal frame of thought which had become entrenched in the thinking of the Kirk and was endorsed by the General Assembly.

– Thomas F. Torrance, Scottish Theology, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996), 224.

Sound familiar? Well he’s referring to the situation on the Church of Scotland 300 years ago. This battle being fought is nothing new, let’s stop pretending.


The Arrogance of Reason

The silliness of any of us thinking we’re an expert on Him. Our only hope is repeating what He reveals He is like.

The tone that we use . . . we have to guard ourselves against heartlessness, we’re talking about real people here, we can’t just have these theological discussions about a doctrine. We can’t be careless and just argue for our point of view, neglecting all the other elements . . . we have to present the evidence and allow a decision to be made.

The arrogance of people to think their reasoning is above God’s, who put God’s actions in submission to their reasoning.
“I wouldn’t believe in a God who would . . . ” – do you ever even consider the possibility that the creator’s sense of justice [enter any issue/topic/character trait here] is actually more developed than yours? That you could be the one who is flawed?

Does it even enter your mind that maybe He knows something you don’t?

Discuss with humility. Confess. Pray, fast and study diligently.

Francis might be talking about hell but I think the kind of attitude which he is encouraging us to have is good in any discussion, of any issue.

Particularly in the Church of Scotland in the past two years, as I’ve listened to people and partaken in discussions about the nature of scripture and what it has to say to those in same-sex relationships, I’ve noticed a serious lack of grace in our language. A lack of humility and an insensibility.
And I hear that phrase, in fact, I’ve used that phrase, “I wouldn’t believe in a God who would . . .” But actually, the God we want to believe in is not the one revealed in Scripture. The God of the Bible is the one who can and will do whatever He wants because His wisdom is greater than ours.

Also, somehow I missed that Francis had moved to San Francisco. Off to pack my stalking gear . . .

General Assembly

People often like to complain that nothing ever happens quickly in the church (by which I mean within one congregation). I was one of them and have days where I still am. I’ve grown to accept it this year but it can still at times be infuriating when your idea has to go before various committee and boards, by which time the situation/ time/ momentum has changed and can leave your idea irrelevant. My advice is, generally, you need to be thinking 8/12 months in advance for big projects, 6 months for slightly smaller things. I digress. 

I’ve learnt this week that it all comes from the top down. I watched about two hours of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly debate on monday night and it was quite possibly the most boring and frustrating, yet interesting thing I’ve ever watched. Paint dries faster than anything is decided but I was still glued to my computer. 

It was fascinating to see just how it all works, as they discussed the wording of an adendum to a motion which they hadn’t even decided to pass yet about an overture which they would eventually never hear. Mightily confusing and very much a court. It took them an hour to decide on the wording of part 2/3 of this motion! 

And this particular motion was about setting up a Special Commission to prepare a study on Ordination and Induction to the Ministry of the Church of Scotland, in light of the outcome of Saturday’s debate and a report presented in 2007 about human sexuality and same-sex relationships. This is an issue the Church of Scotland has been discussing for something like 17 years and now they’ve decided to discuss it for another two years. And you thought it took time for decisions to be made locally!!

The funniest bit is that even after five days and continually being told by the moderator no one seems to know how to work the microphones. Church of Scotland just isn’t ready for the 21st century!

General Assembly Debate

I have purposefully never mentioned the debate within the Church of Scotland about the appointment of Scott Rennie, a man in a homosexual relationship, as minister of Queen’s Cross Church here in Aberdeen. I’m not going to begin now. I only wish to post the decision of the General Assembly which is as follows:

The following motion is agreed by the Assembly:

a) refuse the dissent and complaint of Aitken and others and sustain the decision of the Presbytery of Aberdeen on the basis that the Presbytery followed the vacancy procedure correctly in Act VIII 2003.

b) affirm for the avoidance of doubt that this decision does not alter the Church’s standards of ministerial conduct.

i.e. Scott Rennie gets to be minister.

I’ll decide whether or not to post my views on this tomorrow.