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Thursday, 30 January 2014

When is a church apostate?

An "apostate" is defined, in one on-line dictionary, as "One who has abandoned one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause."

I was born into Presbyterianism; I was saved as a Presbyterian;I was called to pastoral ministry as a Presbyterian; I was trained as a Presbyterian; I was ordained to the ministry of Word and sacrament as a Presbyterian; I ministered as a Presbyterian.  It pains me, therefore, to watch the national Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) abandon so much of what it is, I believe, meant to uphold.

At the 2013 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, it came up with the fudge that claimed that it stood by the scriptural teaching that the practice of homosexuality (and the feminine counterpart of lesbianism) is contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures of the Old, and New, Testament.  However, it then decided that individual congregations were at liberty to call, and have inducted, a practising homosexual minister.  I won't start on the subject of church government, but that, to me, is Congregationalism, not Presbyterianism!

At the same General Assembly it was agreed that, notwithstanding the literal interpretation of the Bible, the Children of Israel have no divine right to the land known as Israel.  I immediately recalled the words of the father of Corrie ten Boom, as he saw the Nazis deal so harshly with the Jewish people: "They are still the apple of His eye."!  

This past week has seen a further abandonment on the part of the Kirk.  A Church of Scotland press release referred to a new deal done between the Kirk and the Scottish Secular Society which would see a reform of Religious Observance to remove the overt religious components which, it is alleged, cause a problem for so many parents, and a change of name to Time for Reflection.  The Kirk, and the Secularists, united in further diminishing any Christian influence on schools that were, at one time, the sole responsibility of the church!  It is a sad day, indeed and, to use the common  saying, John Knox must be birling in his grave - even if the initial reaction of the SSS is that the Kirk is suggesting more of a change of name, than of content!

So, what else is required before the Church of Scotland is considered to be fully apostate?  Do we have to wait until it disowns one of the fundamental doctrines of the Church?  Many individual ministers appear to have difficulty over such matters as the virginal conception of the Lord Jesus, or His bodily resurrection. Is it possible that their number will rise so as to make a vote at a future General Assembly deny such basic doctrines?  Surely not - but then, who would have thought that recent matters would ever have seen the light of day, let alone be accepted by the Kirk?!

I pray that, even now, there might be a spirit of revival, and repentance, sweep through the denomination.   I feel, deeply, for personal friends who are Bible-believing, full Gospel preaching, Word of God accepting ministers, yet who, at this time, believe that they must remain with their congregations.  I pray for them on a daily basis.  Regretfully, the time may soon come when they will have to 'do a Joshua', and state categorically that, regardless of what the denomination may do, for them, their households and, one trusts, their congregations, they will serve the Lord. (see Josh.24:15).

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