Over the past year I've said a fair bit about the Church of Scotland, most of it critical, (check out here and here) and I'm afraid that trend is only going to continue. It's not that I have a grudge against them or anything, in fact, I was converted under the preaching of a Church of Scotland minister and there are many faithful godly men working away in the national church. But their faithfulness, especially in this matter, is inconsistent.
For those of you who don't know the Church of Scotland is meeting tomorrow (May 18th) in order to vote on whether or not practising homosexual ministers should be allowed. The debate is split between conservative evangelicals who argue that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin and the church should not give way to the cultural trend. And on the other side are the liberals who argue we should ignore the Bible, or rather, 'interpret the Bible in a modern framework'. As you can guess from my sarcasm I'm siding with the biblical view, we have no other authority, society can say what it likes, we must stand on the Word of God or we will fall.
Yet with all the discussion happening two things have vexed me. The first is that there seems to be no recognition that the Church of Scotland has brought this on their own heads. As the Bible says: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6v7). In this case, the evangelical members of the CoS are reaping the fruits of allowing liberalism within the church to grow. The Bible has a clear command on the issue of necessary separation:
"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works." (1 John 7 v 10 - 11).
These are strong words and John says that if we greet someone who does not teach the gospel we partake in their guilt. How then any church can continue to exist in a denomination where ministers openly deny the gospel and the physical resurrection of Christ is beyond me. Except, I suppose, its not. It's a case of denominational idolatry, where the 'brand name' of the Church of Scotland is more important than obedience to Christ. I understand too the financial uncertainty and future uncertainty leaving would cause, I grasp the cost, but costly obedience is the joy of every Christian. For such was the path our Saviour walked; and we must follow after him.
Let's face it, what business has light with darkness? And as my brother pointed out to me - how can you expect ungodly men to make godly decisions? This debate over Scriptural authority and homosexual ministers is a direct consequence of disobedience and not maintaining a separation from anti-Christian 'liberal Christianity'. The evangelical churches should have left decades ago as soon as the denial of the doctrine of the authority of the Bible became widespread.
The second issue is the half truth going around that the debate in question is about Scriptural authority rather than homosexual ministers. In a sense this is true: the issue in question is does the Bible 's teaching on homosexuality still apply today? It's not a question of hating gays, or being homophobic, but of the moral imperative and authority of Scripture.
But in a wider sense its hypocritical nonsense. If the matter was really, truly, only about Scriptural authority then why didn't the evangelical churches leave decades ago? It's not as if Church of Scotland ministers disputing the authority of Scripture is a new thing. They've been doing it for decades! If the church is so committed to Scriptural authority why on earth has it taken them so long to talk about leaving?
As Carl Truman argued in a recent blog post, it's the 'yuck factor' of homosexuality that really bites. Ministers denying Christ is fine, we can be united with them, but a practising gay minister? Perish the thought! It's the double minded that gets me. Sin should be disgusting to us, all sexual sin from a lustful thought to pornography to sex outside of marriage to adultery to homosexuality should rightly pain our souls. But if our soul is pained by sin how much more should it would be grieved and horrified by the outright denial of the gospel we should be holding dear? If the lesser is enough to make an evangelical church leave then surely the greater offense should have them all running for the exit?
But we don't see that. While the evangelicals of the Church of Scotland work out what to do about the homosexual minister issue the minister at Mayfield Salisbury Edinburgh denies the physical resurrection of Christ. If you want the yuck factor then how about this? How about a man who is leading people astray and towards hell by teaching them lies? Evangelicals may try and wash their hands of his teachings but he's in their denomination; they share some of his guilt for allowing such evil.
It is not just that the evangelicals churches should leave the Church of Scotland, they need to leave in humility, in repentance, realising they have heaped this trouble on their own back through their disobedience. They should leave admitting that they should have left decades ago. They should leave because the wickedness of all the deceivers in the Church of Scotland is theirs to share while they would still be brothers in the same denomination.