Skip to content

Update on Church of Scotland General Assembly Proceedings

25 May, 2009

brannansmall1The Assembly voted to put together a Special Commission on the question of the ordination and calling of ministers in light of their sexuality, etc., largely in response to the case of the Presbytery of Aberdeen and the complaint brought against them for upholding the call of Scott Rennie, who is openly in a homosexual relationship, to be minister of Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen. The Commission is supposed to report in 2011, and until then, there is supposed to be

a moratorium on issuing public comment, whether in publications or otherwise, and decision-making in relation to contentious matters of human sexuality, in particular with respect to Ordination and Induction to the Ministry of the Church of Scotland.

This is fence-sitting at its best (which is to say, at its worst). This brought the Assembly, then, to the overture brought before the Assembly which I mentioned in my previous post,

That this Church shall not accept for training, ordain, admit, re-admit, induct or introduce to any ministry of the Church anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman.

The Moderator indicated that those bringing the overture, according to the agreement under the Special Commission just outlined, could proceed, but could not discuss the issue of homosexuality. Then a commissioner motioned that the overture should simply be withdrawn, so as not to disturb the ‘consensus’ to which the church had just come, and open up another unfortunate and contentious debate.

After 5 minutes to deliberate, the Presbytery of Lochcarron-Skye withdrew their overture. They said they hoped the Special Commission would seriously consider their views during their work. It seems the conservative party did not want to suffer (another) outright defeat. To read these things for yourself, click here, here, and here.

To summarize, if I may: creed or chaos.

  1. 25 May, 2009 3:29 pm

    Like many other people, I sat and watched the debate this evening, and can’t help reflecting that we’re seeing the endgame of national Christianity in Scotland. There is some excellent comment here, on the blog of one of the Aberdeen protestors:

  2. John MacLeod permalink
    25 May, 2009 4:04 pm

    A dark irony in this situation was the role of Rev. Angus Morrison, parish minister of Stornoway and convener of the Board of Ministry, who made a critical speech for what became the finding of the General Assembly. Mr Morrison was ordained in 1979 as Free Presbyterian minister of Oban, and after his 1986 translation to Edinburgh was at the centre of a subsequent storm over one of his elders, Lord Mackay of Clashfern – then Lord Chancellor in the Thatcher administration – who faced threats of church discipline after attending a Requiem Mass.

    The Free Presbyterian Synod upheld that decision and Mr Morrison and a number of colleagues subsequently seceded to form the Associated Presbyterian Churches (APC)… that Synod vote was twenty years ago today.

  3. 25 May, 2009 5:55 pm

    Reading the comments, I said to myself, sarcasticly, “No, we must not disturb the consensus…” Anything, rather than remind Scottish Presbyterians of what the Scriptures have to say about homosexuality. Is Christianity dying in Scotland?

  4. creedorchaos permalink*
    27 May, 2009 3:24 pm

    I personally think one of the key things here is ‘national Christianity in Scotland’. If that’s what we’re talking about, then it would be easy to argue that it is dying, slowly and painfully.

    ‘Christianity’ per se, however, is — thank God — not entirely coexstensive with any single denomination, Scottish or otherwise.


  5. Ewan Wilson permalink
    7 June, 2009 2:57 pm

    Such, indeed, is the all too predictable ‘endgame’ of loose, prevaricating, insincere,mentally denying creed subscription- all Confessional unity goes out the window.
    Also- the phrasing of the GA decision- ‘a moratorium..whether in
    publications or otherwise…’ rather scotches the claims of CofS evangelicals that their right to preach the whole counsel of God unhindered is seriously at variance with the Assembly ruling.

  6. 8 June, 2009 11:06 am


    As sad as it is, I have to agree. This is an emphatic example of how the Assembly’s masterful attempt at ‘fence sitting’ is really nothing of the sort, when it comes to such things — ‘Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters’ (Luke 11:23).


  7. Ewan Wilson permalink
    9 June, 2009 12:23 am

    I am in complete agreement, there.
    I suppose in the CofS the evangelical constituency is in less of a clear ecclesiastically correct position, given the elasticity of their church’s formularies and ordination vows in the first place.
    However the various inroads of declension that have been made over the years into what were authentically strict confessional churches indicates that if the creed subscription is either itself loose or not enforced with proper sanctions, such creeds become worthless and those churches open to a flood of declension.
    Samuel Miller puts it plainly in his ‘Doctrinal Integrity’ lectures.
    He writes:
    ‘The churches only claim a right to be served in the ministerial office by a man of the same religion with themselves. And is this an unreasonable demand? Are not the rights of conscience reciprocal? Or do they demand that while a church shall be prohibited from ‘oppressing” an individual, an individual shal be allowed to ‘oppress’ a church? Surely it cannot be necessary to wait for an answer.’ (p37, 1989 reprint edn)
    Strict Creed Subscription and strict enforcing thereof are simply the honest way to proceed.

  8. 27 May, 2010 7:38 am

    If only more people could hear about this!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: