civil war

Something I hadn’t really noticed before – when David was made king after Saul, there were actually several years before he was accepted as king by everyone. For a good few years, a section of the kingdom would have still preferred the line of Saul to carry on instead of recognising David.

But both the character of the pro-Saul party and David’s treatment of them are quite striking. There was a man Abner, who had ‘made himself strong for the house of Saul,’ but when David’s general Joab killed Abner, David made it extremely clear that he thought Joab had behaved disgracefully. ‘Know ye not,’ he said to his servants, ‘that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?’

Then a couple of men went and killed Ishbosheth, one of Saul’s remaining sons, and proudly brought his head to David as a trophy, as if expecting that David would be pleased with them. But to David it was an outrage. He called them wicked men, and Ishbosheth the son of Saul he described as a righteous person.

It was completely wrong for anyone in Israel to have rebelled against David, the Lord’s anointed. (Their only justification for supporting Saul would have been that the Lord had anointed him, which was exactly the reason they should have supported David now that Saul was gone.) But David himself regarded at least some of them as righteous men, wrong and all as they were. And rather than harbouring angry or vengeful thoughts against them, David treated them with the utmost courtesy, respect, and integrity, and held them in the highest esteem.

Something here speaks to the current church scene, if it isn’t too fanciful to think so. With the visible church split into warring factions, there are righteous people on all the sides. On the one hand, they need to be recognised as such, even when battles rage fiercely. But on the other hand, the causes of the different parties are not equally right. Some of these righteous people are valiantly fighting for the house of Saul, a cause which was fatally flawed from the start, and doomed to wax weaker and weaker. People can be doing completely the wrong thing, whether energetically propping up the wrong side or compromising pathetically for all the wrong reasons, and for all this, they can still be princes in Israel – and for all this, they are still insurgents whose cause is basically rebellion against the Lord’s anointed.

It’s a dreadful and shameful thing that the visible church is in the torn and broken state it is. All of the people of Israel should have rallied round David from the outset. All the divisions in the church have their reasons, explanations, justifications, … but every division involves disgrace, defeat, loss, and weakening, on both sides. Of course, at every division in the history of the visible church there was a stand for the truth. There’s nothing to regret about standing for the truth: obviously. But it is endlessly to be regretted that the stand for the truth couldn’t be taken without dividing the church. Rallying to David was always the right thing to do, even if it meant division within the people as a whole (and, it might be added, even if it meant one less righteous person to act as salt and light or leaven among the forces supporting Saul), but the division itself was a shameful, painful, sorry thing.

Just to push the analogy one step further, and then I’m done. In spite of the David/Saul division, the people of Israel were all basically the one people. Some of them were better exemplars of what an Israelite should have been than others – to follow Saul was less good than to follow David, and to behave like the bloodthirsty sons of Zeruiah, or the greedy, unscrupulous Ziba, was even less good. But they were all the one people. They all, factions and individuals, carried responsibility for their own decisions and behaviour, but they failed each other when they failed to act as they should.

So it’s all very well for one particular denomination to decide that their criteria for ordaining ministers will from now on bear only the tiniest resemblance to the criteria of scripture, and it’s all very well for some other denomination to decide that their standards of worship can from now on accommodate things that nobody ever used to recognise as complying with scriptural standards of worship, but their decisions affect us all. We are all shamed and weakened by the very fact of divisions existing at all, and we are doubly shamed and weakened when people use the denominational boundaries to fashion little segments of the church according to their own ideas of what the church should look like. Joab the Israelite disgraced all Israel when he stabbed Abner. Denomination X of the visible church shames the whole church visible when it acts to suit itself – to prioritise its own local concerns and pander to its own favoured constituencies – instead of consulting Scripture for the Christian good of Scotland.

32 thoughts on “civil war

  1. In 1 Corinthians 11.19, the Apostle Paul writes,…..’For there must be also heresies (dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims) among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.’

    There is a sense here that division may be of the Lord. He may superintend His Church with the purpose of purifying the precious from the dross or winnowing the wheat from the chaff. Such division can only be for the good.

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    • Interpretation rather goes against the parable of the wheat and the tares, or indeed the prayer of Our Lord just before His passion. It’s not as if God needs the divisions to work out who’s who (ps whatever, God searches the reins and the heart.). God doesn’t will evil.

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      • Oh, God knows who is who alright – He is omniscient, however sometimes when divisions happen (and not all divisions are bad) then we get a better idea of who is who and the state of play becomes more evident.

        2 Timothy 2.19 states this, ‘The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’

        If there is lawlessness in the professing Church, rather than go along with it, those who are Christ’s should depart from it. That may mean in certain cases that division is inevitable.

        There will always be wheat and tares co-existing in the ‘visible’ Church. It takes great discernment at the best of times to distinguish them. However sometimes circumstances arise which enable us to do that with greater clarity.

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        • It seems rather odd to be so keen to distinguish the wheat and the wotsit, to know what the state of play is, to know who is who. Cath’s post seems to me to be, in the light of your (plural) ecclesiology, quite sane – because in the OT example she gives, the division is caused by a body of people not joining the body of people God has explicitly called them to join. You would, unless you don’t mean what you seem to say, divide the church on your judgement of who is wheat and who is weed. I don’t think you can argue that taking the wheat out of the field of tares (as opposed to taking the tares out of the field of wheat) is okay!

          2 Timothy doesn’t say “depart from people who are in iniquity”. St Paul’s talking about leaving off sinning (Someone correct me if I’m wrong, I should be in bed.) At the beginning he talks about the need not to be entangled by the world. He goes on after the verse you quoted to say

          Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

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          • Berenike let me re-emphasis Christians are not omniscient. My understanding of the basis of reception to full membership of a NT Church is not proof of regeneracy per se but a credible profession of faith. However it is still possible that an unconverted person may pass examination by a Kirk Session or equivalent and enter the ranks, so to speak, still in a state of nature.

            Such persons may resemble wheat to a great extent but in reality they are still tares. They as individuals may be deceived or self deceived as to the state of their souls. If we have an interest in the eternal welfare of men’s souls then I think we should be keen to discern to some extent where men stand spiritually – are they wheat or are they tares?

            Under a spiritual ministry where the preaching is searching – some souls who are tares may well come to discover their true nature – that they are not the genuine article and that they need to become wheat. Tares cannot be made wheat by any process of nature. For that to occur would require a supernatural change – the Bible calls this the ‘New Birth’ – a saving change.

            Now the ideal would be to have a Church membership that consists only of wheat. However this is only an ideal – nevertheless it is something that Churches worth the name should strive for. That reality may be different from the ideal we accept. e.g. Judas was one of the twelve, he sat under the Lord’s ministry for three and half years (remaining unconverted) and in the end betrayed him.

            Bear in mind that the sowing of the tares in the field was the work of the enemy, Satan. It was done overnight by stealth. Why would he wish to corrupt the Church with tares? Well – to bring it down, to blight and blast it, to diminish its testimony, to ensure it conforms to the standards of this world, to mar its effectiveness and to poison it with error and false doctrine.

            Sadly what prevails today in many denominations that were once bright and shining in their testimony for Christ is that through laxity and liberalism the tares far outnumber the wheat.
            The spurious rule and the true are but a remnant. Where such a situation comes about I would advise that the wheat in such Churches so called get out from among the tares.

            We have examples of this both in the Old Testament economy and in the New Testament too. When the Jewish Church evidenced that it was thoroughly apostate by its rejection and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, that its ceremony and ritual had been superceded and that its judgment was nigh – the writer of the Hebrews counselled the early Jewish believers to get out of that system.

            He wrote, ‘Let us go forth therefore unto Him – without the camp.’ Hebrews 13.13. Get out! Likewise in Christendom where vital religion has been corrupted by error, false teaching and in essence has become anti-Christian, John writes, ‘Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.’ Revelation 18.4.
            That there may in branches of the visible Church be tares among the wheat I accept and the scriptures make provision for it. But in circumstances where things have got so bad that there are but few wheat left, then it’s time for them to have a re-think and get out in my opinion. Like you I should be in bed – it’s 10.00 am and I was nightshift last night. I need my Zzzzzz’s.

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            • Frankly our ecclesiology is all over the shop. The church should be one. Nobody’s doctrine of the church has any place in principle for multiple denominations, so dealing with the fact that multiple denominations exist has perforce to be done on the hoof.

              Re distinguishing between wheat and tares … the point of the parable is (i think) that they will coexist within the church till the end of time – that’s just the way things are. Individuals have the responsibility of determining for themselves whether they’re converted, but nobody has the right to judge whether anybody else is converted (not even the church has that right – the session’s responsibility begins and ends with a credible profession).

              I’m not sure how much weight should really be attached to lawlessness within the church as a reason to separate. Historically the Scottish church splits never really involved bad practice. In 1843 the main division was between Church and State, with the split within the Church itself a nasty byproduct (collateral damage). In 1893 the division was over adhering to the agreed doctrine of the Church (WCF) versus allowing heresy. Meanwhile there were various points in the history of the church in Scotland where you had unconverted men in the ministry, unconverted men in the eldership, godly men unjustly subjected to church censures, communicant members lax in their lives, discipline cases mishandled, whole congregations using hymns and organs in worship, . . . — and none of these things caused splits, because until very recently, splitting a church over these things would have been seen as schismatic. Very recently means 1989 and 2000. In the past people exonerated themselves from the charge of schism by referring to the stand taken for the spiritual independence of the Church (1843) or the stand taken for orthodox doctrine (1893). Breaking the visible unity of the church over poor discipline or bad practice was never seen as an option.

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            • Hebrews 13:13 – whatever the camp is in this verse (seems to be the non-Christian Jews as a body, roughly), there is absolutely nothing to suggest that St Paul is telling some Christians to leave another group of Christians.

              Since when is Babylon a symbol of vital religion (become corrupt or not)? Have I missed something? Corrupt churches get a tongue lashing at the beginning of the book, but there’s nothing said along the lines of “You non-corrupt people, get out of those corrupt churches”.

              I’m now trying to think of a single example where Our Lord or one of the NT authors tells Christians to leave their church because it is corrupt …

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              • Individual Christians aren’t particularly meant to separate from the church at all, but there is still such a thing as heresy, which the church needs to identify, and heretics, who the church needs to expel from her midst with their concomitant immoral practices. Ie, even granting that there is chaff and impurity within the church itself, there still remains a distinction between the true church and the false church (or, the church vs the synagogues of Satan, or the followers of the Lamb vs Babylon). (I agree that Hebrews 13 isn’t speaking to this issue, whatever it means precisely.)

                Christians are meant to preserve unity even when a church is blighted with errors, defects, and scandals (see, eg, Calvin, Institutes, Book 4 Chapter 1). They’re not meant to participate in heresy or immorality, or condone it, but there’s a most unfortunate irony in committing the sin of schism in order not to be associated with some other sin. This much is perfectly clear in the stated principles of all the Reformed theologians and ecclesiastics.

                The problem is though that at least some of the divisions between denominations quite obviously do not demarcate Truth vs Heresy (True Church vs False Church) so much as Mostly Truth vs Mostly Truth. As in, I’m happy to say there are better reasons to belong to the FPs than to the FC/FCC/CoS/etc, but nobody would say that any one of these denominations is the true kirk as distinct from the false (they all display the notes of the church to some extent or another).
                This problem becomes even more pressing as certain of these denominations carry on taking little steps further and further away from the closest possible approximation of the three marks. There didn’t use to be much to distinguish FP from FC except the legal wrangles of the late C19th – now there’s a major gulf opening up between us on what officially counts as purity of worship. So the dilemma for (say) a loyal FCer is whether (a) to preserve the existing unity of doctrine in their own congregation/presbytery/whatever by staying where they are in spite of the grave defect of their church’s new official position on worship, or (b) to express the unity of the brethren on the question of doctrine plus purity of worship by taking up membership in another existing denomination. Either way, there’s going to be relationships broken and offence caused. In a way that there wouldn’t be, if we were all still one Church in Scotland, but too bad – this is just where we are. It’s a mess.

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  2. I’m not sure.

    According to the Scots Confession of 1560, there are three ‘notes by which the true kirk shall be determined from the false,’ and they are:

    “… first, the true preaching of the Word of God, in which God has revealed himself to us, as the writings of the prophets and apostles declare; secondly, the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus, with which must be associated the Word and promise of God to seal and confirm them in our hearts; and lastly, ecclesiastical discipline uprightly ministered, as God’s Word prescribes, whereby vice is repressed and virtue nourished.”
    (http://www.creeds.net/reformed/Scots/c18.htm)

    The Belgic Confession says much the same, and adds:
    “As for the false church, it assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God; it does not want to subject itself to the yoke of Christ; it does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in his Word; it rather adds to them or subtracts from them as it pleases; it bases itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ; it persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke it for its faults, greed, and idolatry.”
    (http://www.reformed.org/documents/BelgicConfession.html#Article%2029)

    But how exactly to draw the right conclusions from this in a messy situation with a plurality of denominations, each manifesting the marks to some degree…

    What’s your own view?

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  3. I think that where a denomination by and large no longer recognize that the Holy Scriptures are the Divinely inspired Word of God, that they are inerrant and infallible, the revelation of His mind and will to mankind, the supreme authority, the ultimate standard of measurement and the final court of appeal then we can with some justification regard them as apostate.

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  4. Ok, let me think aloud, not contradicting you but just throwing this in.

    If there was only one church, eg say 1843 and subsequent events had never happened, and if it became apparent that lots of ministers had stopped bothering to teach what you say about the Scriptures, then what responsibility would an individual Christian have in that situation, beyond, eg, clinging to the truth about the Scriptures for themselves, regretting and repenting for the failure of their ministers, and doing whatever they legitimately could within the church do to make the true doctrines known and to hold renegate ministers to account through the stated disciplinary procedures? If there was only the one church, wouldn’t it be schismatic to leave just because error existed within it?

    “Among the Corinthians no slight number had gone astray; in fact, almost the whole body was infected. There was not one kind of sin only, but very many; and they were not light errors but frightful misdeeds; there was corruption not only of morals but of doctrine. What does the holy apostle – the instrument of the heavenly Spirit, by whose testimony the Church stands or falls – do about this? Does he seek to separate himself from such? Does he cast them out of Christ’s Kingdom? Does he fell them with the ultimate thunderbolt of anathema? He not only does nothing of the sort, he even recognises and proclaims them to be the church of Christ and the communion of saints! Among the Corinthians quarrels, divisions, and jealousies flare; disputes and altercations burgeon together with greed; an evil deed is openly approved which even pagans would destest; the name of Paul (whom they ought to have honoured as a father) is insolently defamed; some mock the resurrection of the dead, to the destruction of the whole gospel as well; God’s free gifts serve ambition, not love; and many things are done without decency or order. Yet the church abides among them because the minstry of Word and Sacraments remains unrepudiated there. Who, then, would dare snatch the title ‘church’ from these who cannot be charged with even a tenth of such misdeeds?”

    (Guess who?)

    As it happens we have denominations sitting at various points on a sliding scale (or a couple of scales) and if something I find intolerable springs up in one, there’s probably an alternative where that thing doesn’t exist. Where did I hear somebody calling that the ‘sinful luxury’ of our splintered situation – no such option should be available. In the only situation proposed in the New Testament, Christians are supposed to be embedded in the fellowship of their local congregation and the congregations in the presbytery and the presbyteries in the church, full stop. Just the one church, however flawed it might openly become at different points in its history. As it is, people find themselves having to make judgment calls about where a collection of congregations in some ecclesiastical affiliation have crossed a boundary which in their opinion makes them a worse option than the next least-worst option, and the more conscientious and biblically motivated they are, the harder it becomes to make that call.

    As far as I can see, anyway.

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  5. In 2011 we are a long way down the road from the era of the Apostolic Church of Paul’s day. Admittedly disgruntled Corinthians did not have an option. It was either the Church in Corinth or pagan idolatry. I liked your quote from Calvin with respect to Corinth, but if he could be fast-forwarded to our present age I wonder would his thoughts differ?

    Would he stick or would he twist? If everyone stuck – would we have had the Reformation? If we follow the logic of sticking then we’d all still be in the Church of Rome. (Berenike will like this.) I think there is a time – a point reached – a border crossed – when Christians in all good conscience have to say to themselves – let’s get out of here.

    That line in the sand may differ for many – we are all individuals – because one goes now and the other sits around for a while – does not necessarily make the one that does not secede a lesser Christian. My contention is that if our spiritual forebears all sat on their thumbs we would not have had a Reformation or an 1843 or 1893 for that matter.

    If a Church as an institution blatantly rejects the God of the Bible and the express teaching of scripture then surely to stay in such a leavened lump is to be complicit with its erroneous decisions. Leaven leavens full stop – once it’s in that’s it – its spreads throughout the whole. Trying to reform or sort it from within would be well nigh impossible.

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  6. One of the key problems of Protestantism is doctrinal authority. When Luther denounced papal authority he was confident that the faithful reading Scripture in their vernacular would be guided by the Holy Spirit to the same beliefs. But Luther soon found Zwingli disagreeing with him and then Calvin goes even further! Wherever two or three Protestants gather together there shall you find disagreements of doctrine!

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  7. Ah, so those who accept papal authority never have disagreements of doctrine?

    Accusations like that are easy to fling around but that’s about all that can be said in their favour.

    (It’s also barely germane to the discussion at hand!)

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  8. Give me a plain and simple ploughboy on his knees in a prayerful spirit before His God and an open Bible in his hands anytime. You can keep your Papal Authority.

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      • it just seemed the most straightforward way to express my exasperation at folk bringing up issues that don’t need to be mentioned (because it’s obvious where people are coming from) if they are not to be discussed precisely, and thereby spoiling an interesting discussion – but I am glad that Seceder has in fact elicited a thoughtful comment.

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    • This comment struck me today and I have chewed it over a lot. Berenike’s rolling eyes aside it gave me pause for more analysis. What I concluded was that, yes, “Give me….” “Give me what I want….” is really Protestantism in action. “You can keep” what I don’t want.

      Catholics on the other hand didnt ask for Papal authority, but genuinely believe rightly or wrongly that it is instituted by Jesus and defendable by Scripture. No “Give Me’s” . Just thats what Jesus intended and that is how it is going to be.

      And undoubtedly the Papacy has been a great blessing to them – the Rock Jesus intended it to be on issues such as contraception, divorce, homosexual practice, etc.

      Meanwhile,the clamouring for “give me hymns” “give me homosexual priests” “give me divorce..” “give me contraception..” continues at pace in Protestantism and there is no telling where it will end and where the “pure gospel” will end up being taught and by whom.

      Last decade’s Anglican issue, is this decade’s Church of Scotland issue, and will be next years….which domination next? So it goes on, so it will go on.

      So, if I can be a tad ironic. Give me what Jesus wanted.

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      • Ok, but 1) you’ve got to admit that’s a bit of an over-reaction to a very conventional turn of phrase, and 2) this is really taking the discussion off topic.

        Off-topic because, thanks and everything, but Catholic analyses of Protestant problems tend to rather miss the point somewhat, and because whatever else divides Protestants, we’re all already agreed that papal authority isn’t going to help us much.

        If you’re desperate to pursue this, try somewhere we’ve already discussed it (here or here).

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  9. Or … a plain and simple crofter in the pew in a prayerful spirit before his God who makes the reading but especially the preaching of the Word . . . . :-)

    Coming back to the WWCD question soon i hope!

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  10. Going back to your previous comment Seceder – I suppose I can’t help wondering whether the choice shouldn’t always be limited to the Church vs pagan idolatry? There’s this idea of gradations (ok church, less good church, even less good church, shading off into pagan idolatry) – but it can’t really be scripturally justified can it? Compared to, say, gradations in the faithfulness of the one church over time (good day, bad day, in-between day).

    After Chapter 1 of Book 4 where Calvin talks about the holy catholic church as our mother etc, he spends Chapter 2 explaining how it doesn’t take a very long or laboured defence to show that they weren’t schismatics for separating from the church with the bishop of Rome at its head. Which reminded me of Charles Hodge’s letter to Pius IX some centuries later – “Neither are we schismatics. We cordially recognise as members of Christ’s visible Church on earth, all those who profess the true religion together with their children. We are not only willing but earnest to hold Christian communion with them, provided they do not require, as conditions of such communion, that we profess doctrines which the Word of God condemns, or that we should do what the Word forbids. If in any case any Church prescribes such unscriptural terms of fellowship, the error and the fault is with that church and not with us.”

    So… anathematising the doctrines of grace kills a church dead, ‘just as a man’s life is ended when his throat is pierced,’ but tolerating error and impurities = ??

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  11. Cath,

    That there are still those individuals who are true Christian souls in religious systems which are well on the way to apostasy I think is a given. Admittedly I’m thinking more of institutions as opposed to individuals. What should such individuals do in such institutions?

    There are denominations within Christendom on the ‘worse’ end of the spectrum so to speak that are pagan and idolatrous or on the brink of becoming so. What does the genuinely exercised Chistian do in such circumstances?

    Do they sit on their hands in the name of a spurious unity with those who are blatantly unbelievers (evidenced by their doctrine and practice) or get out for the love of the truth’s sake. I would tend to think that truth should take precedence over unity in such cases.

    The Gospel’s evidence the fact that the Lord Jesus was ever in the outside place during His sojourn here below. No room at the inn at His birth, not where to lay His head – during His ministry and in His death – outside the city walls.

    Those who belong to Him should not be surprised if they are cast out, isolated and marginalized even in professedly Christian denominations. The blind man in John 9 was thrown out – but in being ejected that is where He found Christ who was on the outside too.

    To quote a recent seceder from the CoS, ‘I personally cannot continue to serve, and receive the stipend, of a Church which as an institution, has chosen its own gods, and departed from the God of the Bible,’ Sad, but I think he will find soul prosperity and blessing on the outside.

    As I close, Isaac comes to mind who was the patriach who dug alot of wells; obvious sources of refreshment and vitality. However there were plenty of Philistines about who loved to fill the wells in and choke them up with rocks and rubble.

    That’s what’s happening in Churches in our day. Too many Philistines who claim a title to the inheritance but have no right to it whatsoever. They profess but do not possess and as a consequence kill off Churches from within – barren, dead and parched land is the result.

    Genesis 26 is an interesting read; what does Isaac do? In some instances he managed to unblock the wells, at other wells contention and strife came in to such an extent he had to move on. He kept moving on and moving out and kept on digging.

    He was a man who was exercised. Eventually his excercise paid dividends. He came to a place (Rehoboth) where he was able to digg a well and find a spring – here were flowing, living waters, here he could be fruitful. He was in the outside place but it was a blessed one.

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  12. Seceder,

    I very much agree that when Christians find themselves in denominations which have clearly seriously compromised on doctrine and practice, the obvious thing for them to do is to leave that denomination and join together with other Christians in denominations where they can more clearly express their commitment to orthodoxy and orthopraxy together.
    This is not to minimise the difficulties of leaving behind valued relationships, or the concerns about how much more quickly things might decline if a person takes away their witness from a particular context, but it is to say that Christians need to be confident that their denomination has the best possible credentials in terms of (a) its reason for existing at all, (b) its doctrine, and (c) its practice.
    When Christians linger around in denominations which are seriously compromised in any of these areas, they’re depriving themselves of fellowship in communions where these things are less compromised, and they’re also depriving their fellow believers in these denominations of their support and fellowship. We all need each other, and you can’t help feeling that some people’s energies in the direction of fighting lost causes would be better used in standing shoulder to shoulder with others who gladly and uncomplicatedly confess/practice what they themselves stand for.

    I’m not totally convinced about the ‘marginalised and isolated’ thing mind you – fine to say there was no room in the inn, etc, but that was all true even while Jesus was part of the then visible church. (They cast out the blind man, but Jesus himself was never excommunicated and never advocated separation within the church in spite of its low spiritual condition in his time.) Which is why rhetoric about small remnants and whatnot can be quite uncomfortable, but that’s just by the by.

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  13. Cath,

    Yet again in afew paragraphs you have summed the whole matter up well.

    ‘And what shall I more say?’ Hebrews 11.32

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  14. Incidentally there’s an extremely interesting article in the July Banner of Truth on ‘The Crisis in the Church of Scotland’ which provides a succinct but wide-ranging analysis of the situation.

    * There hasn’t usually been much movement between the denominations in Scotland, with denominational differences quite marked and denominational loyalty strong

    * “The response needed to this misrule in the Church of Scotland is not a one-by-one secession of individual ministers, but combined action on the part of faithful men. … At present those in the pews are by no means prepared for a disruption of the denomination, in part because no ground work has been done in preparation for such an event.”

    * “Faithful evangelical ministers, who bear heavy responsibilities in the Church of Scotland, need the prayer and sympathy of Christians everywhere. The issues are as serious as at the time of the Reformation and are closely similar, namely abuse of church authority and opposition to the gospel itself.”

    And lots more which is worth reading if you haven’t already.

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    • Dal,

      I think the word of God should be the final court of appeal by which to settle these matters conclusively.

      As that good old evangelical prophet Isaiah wrote many years ago, and the words still ring true in this present day, …….

      “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8.20.

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    • Wait, what’s the point at issue here? I gather the vote wasn’t so much on the controversy itself as what’s to be done in the here and now.

      Ain’t democracy anyway, just presbyterianism.

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