Day by day the future of the Church of Scotland becomes ever clearer. Whilst the denomination is haemorrhaging members the leadership is desperately trying to curry favour with a narrow sector of Scottish opinion, the politically correct and ‘right on’ opinion formers.
Foremost amongst these failing leaders is Sally Foster-Fulton. Sally is convenor of the Church and Society Council which engages with national and international political and social issues facing Scotland today. To this influential post the ever strident Sally has brought all the theological depth, nuance and subtlety of student union politics.
Until recently her Council’s pièce de résistance had been the debacle of ‘The inheritance of Abraham? A report on the “promised land”’. This report presented to the 2013 General Assembly purported to be an examination of the theology behind Israel’s attitude to the land of Israel. So offensive was the original report that it had to be redrawn before being presented to the General Assembly.
Even the amended report in its open bias failed to quote a single orthodox Jewish theologian or authority when dealing with specifically Jewish issues, including anti-Semitism. The arrogance of lecturing Jewish people on how to interpret Jewish text and theology without even listening to what Jews actually say is astounding.
The arrogance extended to Christians. The report worked on the assumption that the only alternative in the discussion was either to support Palestine or be a Christian Zionist. No Christian theologian of any note was quoted when dealing with a Christian understanding of Israel today. Those who did not share the report’s pro-Palestinian viewpoint were described as having a theological position based upon ‘the mores of the colonial and imperial age’ and the attitudes of ‘European colonialism’. Supposedly representative thinkers supporting Israel were such theological luminaries as presidents Reagan, Clinton and ‘tele-evangelists and novelists like Jerry Falwell and Hal Lindsay’.
It would take charity to describe the report’s hermeneutic as sub-Marcionite. Never mind the appalling theology, the report proceeded with a blithe ignorance of 20th century European history where the danger of a church splitting the Old Testament from the New should have been glaringly obvious.
The crass Christian triumphalism extended to the report’s treatment of the concept of covenant where it ended up in effect denying that God is a God of grace who loves the unlovely and draws back the erring. Instead in the report He was presented as a God of vengeance who discards sinners, at least when they are Jewish sinners.
Most shameful of all this report in all its comic book posturing and crass theological justification of a previously arrived at political position was accepted by the General Assembly of 2013. Day by day it becomes clearer that evangelicals in the Church of Scotland are not fighting an uphill battle, we are half-heartedly engaged in a losing battle.
This week sees Sally and her coterie in typical form relentlessly pushing a progressive agenda. Incredibly the Council, representing the official Church of Scotland position, has collaborated with the Humanist Society Scotland in making a joint representation to the Scottish Parliament concerning religious education. Religious education in Scotland is open to thoughtful reform and Christians could take advantage of this to present the gospel story in a creative and engaging fashion, and there are many committed evangelicals eager to do so in a way which would include children from all backgrounds.
The present collaboration between the Council and the Humanist Society does not seem to have this in view. It seems to have the objective of minimising the possibly of offence being caused to anyone, except evangelical Christians of course. Within the joint letter, which is disturbing enough, we have the following sentence.
“Both the Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society Scotland also believe that requiring external visitors to schools to agree with the equality and diversity policy of the school, or local educational authority, would ameliorate situations which have arisen in the past.”
This is a rather unsubtle attempt to exclude from school chaplaincy any who do not sign up to the approved ‘equality and diversity policy’. We should remember Nineteen Eighty Four where ‘War is peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength’. To the politically correct establishment ‘equality and diversity’ mean exclusion and uniformity.
Equality and diversity as understood by the Humanist Society Scotland and the CofS Council would mean the exclusion of any chaplain who did not accept homosexual marriage, but who did accept the inerrancy of Scripture. It could exclude any chaplain who taught an alternative view of creation. More importantly it could lead to the exclusion of any chaplain who taught that Jesus alone is Lord and Saviour, no more of that John 3:16 or 14:6 exclusivity, it’s just not diverse enough and might offend someone. The only views allowed to be expressed would inevitably become those approved of by the Humanist Society Scotland.
The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, like much of the leadership of the denomination, is so caught up with a politically correct social agenda that it is prepared to make common cause with the Humanist Society in a move which could see evangelicals being excluded from chaplaincy in Scotland’s schools.
In the words of the Council they wish to ‘journey together’ with the Humanist Society. Where does that leave evangelicals in the Church of Scotland who do not wish to go on that journey?