Has the Church of Scotland discarded the revelation of God?

The following post was first published in May 2013.

As I write, Britain is in the grip of a fierce debate. The website of the BBC and the letters page and opinion columns of The Herald, a Scottish national newspaper, are alive with the controversy. The topic under discussion is homosexuality: in England, the focus is the government’s policy regarding the right of homosexuals to marry, and in Scotland, concerning the decision of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly to allow open homosexuals to be ministers.  It is the latter subject that is discussed here.

The question I would like to raise with the reader is this: do we have a revelation from God? To put it another way, has God revealed Himself to His creature in any way? Do we know what His mind and will is on any subject? The answer to this question is emphatically yes. God has seen fit to reveal Himself to man in the divine workmanship of the created sphere which surrounds him, given him His inspired Word in the form of the Bible, and – most wonderful of all – revealed Himself in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ*. There have been those in the past who have denied the revelation of God, said it is impossible to know Him, and that any and every revelation purporting to be of God is fraudulent. Undoubtedly, this delusion exists to this day, though it has become more fashionable to avow outright atheism, denying that there is any God to reveal Himself. But, it’s not my object to dwell on such narrow-minded infidelity. Instead, the topic of the moment is the strange infidelity of certain clergy and congregants of the Church of Scotland.

Readers will be in no doubt where this writer stands on the issue of homosexuality: on solid scriptural ground. The inspired Word of God is absolutely clear in its condemnation of it as sinful. I needn’t reference the chapters and verses which explicitly set out this truth, as I’m sure they’ll be familiar to all, whether they accept them or not. Faithful students of the Word will be familiar with the wider context of scripture which fully bears out this truth. Some are willfully blind (what else but self-will could blind a person to such clear instruction?) to the Word of God they claim to honour.

Paganism presents us with a pantheon of gods, each dedicated to supplying a need or satisfying a lust, and without an application to conscience of the individual. This is clearly what many in Christendom would prefer.

The letters page of The Herald seethes with correspondence, featuring words and phrases such as “inclusiveness”, “toleration”, “a broad church” and a “non-judgmental Gospel”. Many laud the decision of the General Assembly, stating that it has “preserved the unity of the Church”. Yet one online comment summed up these sentiments concisely, with the words “synagogue of Satan”.

It is difficult to describe how detestable it is to see the grace of God abused and portrayed as a licence to sin, a get-out clause by which any iniquity may be tolerated. At this point, undoubtedly the many will call me judgmental, intolerant, lacking in what they claim to be the Christian spirit and virtues, on which they apparently have a monopoly. But, I tell you this: God hates sin, and His love is towards the sinner. It does not please God if we tolerate sin in ourselves, or overlook it in others. The many would claim that it is loving to tolerate sin in others. It is in fact hateful to put to sleep a conscience which has been needfully awakened. “Open rebuke is better than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are profuse.” (Proverbs 27 v 5-6).

Let me be clear, and use the language of scripture. We cannot judge others. In the words of the Lord, “Let him that is without sin among you first cast the stone…” (John 8 v 7), and the words of the apostle Paul, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3 v 23). Therefore, we are unable to judge persons, and God is the only righteous judge of man.

And again, the words of the Lord, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8 v 11) and of the apostle, “What then shall we say? Should we continue in sin that grace may abound? Far be the thought. We who have died to sin, how shall we still live in it?” (Romans 6 v 1). Scripture is clear. We cannot judge others, because we ourselves are sinners. But we can and should judge sin, and not live in it. But that, as the many would argue, is only self-judgement, that we have no responsibility for our fellow man in this regard. I would answer, again, with scripture: “Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2 v 19). The context of this verse shows what it means, without any shadow of doubt. We are to withdraw from iniquity, that is, conscious, sustained and deliberate wickedness, whether in persons or institutions. This is what the Church of Scotland has just irrevocably failed to do.

Yet all of the above is of no account to the self-appointed editors of the revelation. Any passage which is inconvenient, which is unpopular with the thinking of the moment, which they find difficult to understand, all these can be excised.  After all, the Word of God is fallible and the Almighty Creator of the universe is incapable of expressing Himself with clarity and definiteness. Such is their degraded and blasphemous thinking.

Dear faithful reader, let us be in no doubt that we are approaching the close of this era. Christendom is in the Laodicea state. The many praise the wisdom of comprise and toleration. The Lord says this: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would that thou wert cold or hot. Thus because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3 v 15-16). I feel the edge of these words as I quote them, and I am made painfully aware of my inadequacy on that score. Yet, I do not speak on the basis on my own righteousness, but on that of the righteous Judge of all the Earth. I do not speak with my own authority or using my own words, but rather the authority of Word of God, that authority which is being so blatantly denied. Therefore, I feel confident to let scripture speak for itself, even if the rest of my words fall on deaf ears.

As a young Christian – young in the faith and in age – I am anxious for my generation. People my age, and how much more so the coming generations, are living in a world in which the truth has been neglected and distorted more than it has ever been before. As the apostle Paul warned, “wicked men and juggling impostors shall advance in evil, leading and being led astray.” (2 Timothy 3 v 13). Indeed, the most fundamental of truths are being eroded. Who hears Paul’s words now, when he says that “every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (v 16). Evil in all its forms is endemic in Christendom. We fight it at every turn. My fellow young brethren, let us be “good soldier[s] of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2 v 3) in the final battles of our part in the conflict.

I have not written the above simply in order to complain and criticise. What would be the point of that? I hope that what I’ve written I’ll first take to myself and learn from it, and that it might strengthen and encourage others. Satan is trying to do away with most of the teaching of righteousness, and make the part of it that remains seem an end in itself. Righteousness and piety are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end. We do not present ourselves as living sacrifices in order to just be living sacrifices, but to present ourselves to God in acceptability – clothed in Christ – to come into the blessings the God would love to give us without reserve. We, like Paul, should “pursue, looking towards the goal, for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3 v 14).

 

* And, of course, as Father and Holy Spirit, as well as Son.