The Church of Scotland faces its deepest crisis in more than 150 years. There is no way in which we can responsibly underplay the seriousness of the decisions which have to be made very shortly due to the recent decision by the General Assembly to train for the ministry those in homosexual relationships. Not since 1843 have we encountered as serious a situation.
There is, however, a vital difference between today and 1843. In 1843 the evangelicals in the Church were prepared for a Disruption. There had been more than a decade of conferences, organisation, publications, lectures and political organisation. Today when we consider evangelicals in the CofS the only comparison is with those who are unable to organise a bacchanalian spree in an establishment devoted to the fermentation of alcoholic beverages.
Despite calls for a coherent and cohesive response to the progressive assault on biblical Christianity which has been mounted over the last quarter of a century we evangelicals have navel gazed and indulged in in-fighting for our own wee patch of the kail yaird.
Forward Together, the Crieff Fellowship, Confessing Churches, these CofS organsiations have all pursued their legitimate concerns, but done so apart. In the meantime we have lost ground and those who hold to the truth have found themselves regularly trounced in Presbytery and General Assembly and the CofS has gently and inexorably abandoned its connection with the Bible to become just one more ecclesiastical organisation owing more to the popular ethic of the day than to the eternal Word of God.
Is it possible that we can have a coherent response to the continuing destruction of the CofS and its transformation into just another mediocre religious clique, disparaged by its trendy friends and scorned by the universal, catholic Church?
There is to be a meeting for those concerned about the state of the Church in St George’s Tron, Glasgow on Friday 17th June. The purpose is to hammer out a coherent response to the crisis facing the CofS. As expected responses vary.
Already individual ministers have notified Presbytery of their intention to demit their charges. There is at least one instance of a congregation setting up a parallel church, civil recognition and all, ready for the day when they move over to an independent existence.
On the other hand there are those who, despite the harsh evidence of history, are determined to continue in the CofS until the bitter end of inevitable defeat.
In between the extremes, the majority, recognising reality, look for leadership about how to leave. We must make every effort to take action together. Those on the extremes, much as we must respect their principled stance, either going now or staying to inescapable end, weaken the cause.
We have to recognise the reality that our church has been stolen from us. We should acknowledge our responsibility for allowing this to happen because it was we who left the doors ajar and windows open to the burglars. But bemoaning our past or remaining blinkered about our future does us no good.
Our imperative at present is to avoid the extremes of going no matter what, or staying no matter what. Our task today is to organise our departure as a body tomorrow.
Will this happen? Compressed spheres of frozen water and temperatures
reminiscent of Hades come to mind. But then, prayer counts.