Abortion and the Catholic Midwives – Letter in Scotsman

The following letter was printed in todays Scotsman (20th December 2014)

I find it interesting that Neil Barber of the Edinburgh Secular Society insists that medical professionals should “leave their religions in the changing room” and Alistair McBay of the National Secular Society wants to ensure that “public services in Scotland will not be organised around the religious dogma of one or two individuals” (Letters, 19 December).

Apart from the fact that “religion” is not something we put on or off like clothing, and the fact that there are far more than “one or two” Catholics in Scotland, both these secularists are missing the real elephant in the room.

Why should their religious or philosophical view be the only one allowed in public life in Scotland?

The secularists are a tiny group in comparison with the Catholic Church and yet they insist that the whole of society must be governed according to their views. In this area at least there are many of us in the Protestant churches who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Catholic sisters and brothers in supporting their right to religious freedom and not to participate in what we see as state-sanctioned killing of human life.

The arrogance and intolerance of the secularists is becoming more and more evident in Scottish society. It’s time for those of use who value freedom, diversity and human life to stand up for what remains of our Christian value system.

David Robertson

You can read the original here (and see the comments afterwards) –

http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/letters/abortion-ruling-1-3639573#comments-area

Quantum of Solas 13 – the one with USA/Cuba, SSM in Scotland, Peshawar, Sydney, John Lennon and the Catholic Midwives

This weeks podcast ranges worldwide….and reflects on a good week for Cuba, a bad day for Scotland, massacre in Pakistan, tragedy in Sydney and John Lennon’s hopeless faith.

http://solas.podbean.com/e/quantum-of-solas-episode-13/?fb_action_ids=797883240246918&fb_action_types=og.comments&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

‘Government is Responsible for our Culture of Bad Debt’ – Article in the Press and Journal – 16th Dec 2014

‘Owe no man nothing’ says the Good Book.
For years Scots brought up on the teaching of the Bible did their best to fulfil that instruction.
Our reputation for meanness was undeserved because in reality our thrift and canniness with money meant that we had more to give.
No more because according to a report by Accountant in Bankruptcy the number of people in Scotland being taken to court is more than 1,000 per day.
Various reasons have been given for this; from the increased powers given to local authorities to pursue debtors, to the ongoing effects of the recession.
Perhaps though there are other factors we need to take into account.
For example the kind of human greed and consumerism exemplified by people fighting over discounted TVs in supermarkets on the so-called Black Friday?
But there is more to it than that – much more. We are a culture built on debt.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is one of the foremost debt help agencies in the UK.
My own congregation has a CAP centre in our church building.
The stories of debt that I have heard are incredible.
CAP are doing wonderful work and have helped tens of thousands of people get out of debt, but it is a long, hard process teaching people the basic principle that you should not spend what you do not have.
A principle that is made even harder when the government does not even pretend to practise it.
Britain is at least £1.4trillion in debt – £25,000 for every single man, woman and child – some reckon that the real debt is three times that.
There is an old Italian proverb that says: “He who leaves God out of his reckoning does not know how to count.”
Perhaps, as we as a society have abandoned the spiritual and become consumerist materialists, seeing life only in terms of what we own, it is little wonder that the things that money can buy don’t ultimately satisfy, and that our debts of every kind, just keep on piling up.
The Rev David Robertson is the moderator-elect of the Free Church of Scotland and minister of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee

This article appeared in the P and J- it was edited from the one I sent which went on to speak about Jesus being the one who forgives us our debts – but it is good to get this into the national press.

A Prayer for the Nation of Scotland – On the day that over 1500 years of Christian teaching and practice on marriage was overturned – 16th December 2014

A Prayer for the Nation of Scotland
On the day that over 1500 years of Christian teaching and practice on marriage was overturned – 16th December 2014

Our Father in Heaven,
The God of all grace and comfort,
The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Our Creator, Sustainer and Provider.
You are the God of Truth, Holiness and Love.
You have blessed this small land of Scotland with many visitations of your Spirit.
You made us the land of the people of the book.
You have used us to help bring your kingdom throughout the world.
And yet today we confess that we have turned our backs on you.

We despise your Word
Our leaders, media and educators mock your laws.
We have turned the grace of our Lord Jesus into a licence for sin.
Since we have not thought it worthwhile to retain our knowledge of you,
You have given us over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done
We have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
We not only continue to do what is wrong but we approve of those who do wrong.
Today O Lord we have turned our back on your gift of holy marriage
We think we know better than you.
We rejoice in our stupidity
Thinking they are wise, our leaders have become fools,
Exchanging the glory of God for images in their own making.
We have sown the wind. We will reap the whirlwind.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon your church.
When we should have spoken we have been silent.
When we did speak we offered our own words, not yours.
When we have spoken your words we have not demonstrated them in our actions.
Our hearts are cold, our lips sealed, our minds dulled.
We are disunited, confused, self-seeking.
Forgive our sins, hypocrisy and indifference.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

We plead with you O Lord, that you would revive, renew and restore your church
That we would be conscious of your presence, thankful for your goodness and filled with your Holy Spirit.
May the love of your Son fill our hearts, renew our minds and motivate our lives.
Grant us vision, boldness and love.

O Lord we pray for this nation of Scotland.
We cannot bear the thought that our nation would perish.
We know that righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people.
Lord grant us righteousness,
that the people of Scotland may be blessed,
that we may be as great a blessing to the peoples of your world in the future as we have been in the past.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

May your kingdom come and your will be done.
O Lord, renew and use Scotland for your glory,
Give us Scotland or we die.

In the Name, and for the sake of, our Lord Jesus Christ
King of kings and Lord of lords.

Amen

Liberal Evangelicalism, Right Wing Fundamentalism, Rob Bell, Augustine and Sinclair Ferguson – Another Typical Lord’s Day Discussion!

Yesterday was a fascinating day which came at the end of a week which raised lots of questions. In particular it was interesting to see two sides of the Christian church which are not all that pleasant. On the one there was a series of messages from some people in the US who think that yours truly is up there with Rick Warren and the Pope (we are not worthy!) and on the other there was the interesting case of one of the new ‘liberal/evangelicals’ having a real go. The latter was the most fascinating. Basically they posted about how wonderful and misunderstood Rob Bell is and that anyone who thought otherwise was judgemental, ignorant and out of touch with the Spirit. This resulted in a lengthy and I hope productive discussion in which some important issues were raised and answered. And then after a lot of discussion and posts the original poster removed them all in a childish fit of pique. It was, like many of the posts, a classic example of the non-judgemental, judging and not being able to handle or deal with such unimportant concepts as truth and love! I think I prefer discussing with atheists who say they hate me, rather than liberal Christians who speak about how loving they are and then condemn!

I am really disturbed by the number of evangelicals who buy into classic 19th Century liberal Protestantism, as though it were some new revelation of the Spirit (aka Rob Bell, Steve Chalke, Brian McClaren) and especially an argument that was made that the Bible is the work of men, contains many errors etc ‘as scholars have shown’. If you challenge them as to who these ‘scholars’ are they struggle to answer (because usually people who state this have not read any of the scholars, but more likely get their info of Wiki or some internet soundbite), and then they go all emotional and talk about how judgemental you are and unloving (not realising of course the irony of their own judgementalism, especially of the Word of God!) – One ‘proof’ of this was the old one of the difference between the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. And this is where it got interesting.

As it happens yesterday afternoon I was sitting in front of the fire reading Augustines harmony of the Gospels. The introduction states this apposite word: “Its great object is to vindicate the Gospel against the critical assaults of the heathen. Paganism, having tried persecution as its first weapon, and seen it fail, attempted next to discredit the new faith by slandering its doctrine, impeaching its history, and attacking with special persistency the veracity of the Gospel writers. In this it was aided by some of Augustin’s heretical antagonists, who endeavoured at times to establish a conspicious inconsistency between the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian, and at times to prove the several sections of the New Testament to be at variance with each other”. Unbelievers and heretics working together? Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose!

Meanwhile, unbeknown to him, Sinclair Ferguson, preached a classic sermon last night in St Petes…, which was on the genealogy of Matthew. It was thrilling. By proclaiming the Word of God he answered the objections, lifted up Christ and dealt with our hearts – something that self-obsessed liberal Christianity can never do. There were other issues that people in the congregation were dealing with and he, unknowingly, dealt with them. Because he preached the Bible as it is. He did not try to second guess, he did not try to adapt to suit what he saw, but he just taught what God revealed through his Word. And guess what? It worked.

When liberal/evangelicals detract from the Word of God in order to be kind, compassionate and relevant, they do not realise that they are being cruel, destructive and irrelevant. That is why I will always challenge them – not because I enjoy controversy or being called ‘judgemental and unloving’ but because they are instilling poison into the bread of life, and watering down the water of life that gives hope, freedom and real love. Last week for example I received a letter concerning a young man who was a professing Christian but after reading Rob Bell that led him down a path to the place where he now professes to be an atheist. So I apologise if I come across as rude and you feel you have to block and unfriend me…but Jesus is too precious for you to muck around with and I won’t apologise for challenging you when you seek to re-create him in your own image.

A Strange Twist
This has taken a rather bizarre turn -I was contacted by the person whose thread I refer to above – “I don’t like the things you are posting…I am considering reporting you to the police as a bully..” I was so flabbergasted at this that I wrote and told him I would not post, indeed could not post on the discussion because he had removed it….and his response? “you were warned”. So I am about to be reported to the police by a ‘liberal evangelical loving Christian’ because I questioned his endorsement of Rob Bell and defended the Bible! You could not make this stuff up! I wait with baited breath for the visit from the boys in blue….I guess Christian ‘liberals’ are the same as non-Christian ones – not so liberal when it comes to people disagreeing with them!

Scottish Government Guidelines on Sex Education – A Christian Welcome!

The Scottish Government has just produced its awaited report on “Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education in Schools”. There are of course negative aspects to it but in general I would suggest that the Free Church should welcome and support a document which could be a good basis for a healthy and positive sex education policy. The key of course is not in the fine words but what those words actually mean and how they are implemented. Let us look first of all at what we can welcome in the report and the implication for Christian parents, carers and teachers.

1. We wholeheartedly welcome the purpose stated at the head of the report – “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all children and young people receive high quality relationships, sexual health and parenthood education (RSHP) in order to respect, protect and fulfil their human rights as they grow up. We are committed to working with children and young people along with parents, carers and staff to make this a reality for schools in Scotland in order to create a more positive culture around relationships, sexual health and parenthood in Scotland.”

2. We welcome the fact that sex education is to be seen in the light of wider relationships and that parents are seen as keythat the education of the child shall be directed to the development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values”. We warmly welcome the fact that parents should be consulted – “It is good practice for schools to regularly seek the views of parents and carers about key aspects of the curriculum, such as RSHP education. It should be standard practice for schools to consult with parents and carers when they are developing or reviewing their programme of RSHP education. All parents and carers should be given the opportunity in advance to view key teaching materials and to ask questions about any aspect of the programme”. This means that the recreational casual view of sex CANNOT not be taught in Scottish schools.

3. We welcome the recognition that a stable family life is important for a child’s development. We welcome the emphasis on the need for a secure and stable family for bringing up children. “Children and young people should be encouraged to consider and appreciate the importance of parental responsibility and family relationships in planning for and bringing up children and in offering them security, stability, happiness and love.”

4. We welcome the aim to protect children from all forms of abuse including sexual. We also welcome the recognition that child sexual exploitation is seen as a form of sexual abuse. All that can be done to prevent children from being exploited is to be encouraged. A cheap view of sex as recreational and the commercialisation of sex are factors that need to be kept in mind.

5. We welcome the recognition that sexual relationships and sexuality are also tied in with spirituality. We welcome the commitment to ensure that children have access to information and material from a wide variety of sources in order to promote their spiritual and moral wellbeing and physical and mental health. We would like all children to be able to have access to sex health material that approaches the subject from a Christian perspective. Schools are thus encouraged to use the excellent material by CARE and other Christian groups which give a holistic biblical perspective. Schools should not just give material from one ideology (ie. Stonewall).

6. We welcome section 28 – “No school, or individual teacher, is under a duty to support, promote or endorse one type of relationship over another”. We do not object to the guidance that “discussions about relationships should acknowledge that same sex couples can now marry as a result of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland)” That is simply a fact and as the guidance states “Teaching should be based on facts and should enable pupils to develop an understanding of how the law applies to different relationships.” However this does not mean that a teacher or pupil is obliged to promote or agree with SSM. Teachers can teach the facts but not their own personal opinions. Pupils are entitled to have different views.

7. We welcome the emphasis on bullying and we agree that homophobic bullying is as important and serious as any other form of bullying. However we question why this form of bullying is the only example raised. Given that the homosexual community is only 1-2 per cent of the population we wonder why other forms of bullying are not equally stressed. The disabled, the religious and people of different cultures and skin cultures are just as likely to be bullied. Government should not conduct policy on the basis of well-funded lobbying groups who seek to magnify a problem in order to justify their own existence and advance their own particular agenda.

8. We welcome the concern about online pornography and the recognition that this is linked with bullying.

9. We also welcome the commitment to retain denominational schools. However we would remind the government that non-denominational schools are not non-Christian and we would like to see the Christian ethos of Scotland’s state schools retained or returned. It is after all the best way to ensure the total well being of our children. Christian parents need to constantly remind schools of the schools Christian ethos and of the right the parents have to have their children educated according to their religious beliefs.

10. We note with interest that “inputs from external partners should respect and complement the values and belief system of the school;’ (p.11). Whilst we welcome the acknowledgement that every school has a value and belief system we would like to know what that value and belief system is based on.

Overall the report is to be welcomed. However there are some concerns and inconsistencies. How does one present sex education in a gender neutral way? And why are the guidelines so casual about underage sex? The assumption in the report seems to be that there is an obvious universal moral code that reflects the values of the whole community. This assumption is dangerous. We do not want to assume that the liberal elites who govern our culture will just hand us down their homespun 1960’s morality. As the report acknowledges, good teaching about sexual health and relationships requires a holistic approach based upon a coherent value and belief system. Scotland’s education system has had a Christian value and belief. For the sexual, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being of Scotland’s children, we would urge that that value and belief system be retained or restored.

The original article can be read here – http://freechurch.org/news/new-scottish-government-guidelines-on-sex-education-a-christian-perspective

Labour Leadership Hopeful Jim Murphy Target of Sectarian Abuse, Claims Church Chief – article in the Daily Record

The Daily Record carries the following as a headline story – what is astonishing is the claim that the Secular Society make “”The Scottish Secular Society have no problem with Mr Murphy’s beliefs, but a very great problem with the way in which we fear they will influence his political decisions.”. In other words – you can believe what you want, as long as what you believe never has any impact on your actions – in this one sentence the illogicality and militancy of this anti-Christian secularism is demonstrated. Stunning! I post the words below – you can get the original with pictures here – (incidentally when was the last time the Record carried a positive story about the Free Church?!) –

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/scottish-labour-leadership-hopeful-jim-4775349

Scottish Labour leadership hopeful Jim Murphy target of sectarian abuse, claims church chief
Dec 09, 2014 13:39 By Dave Bohill
FREE Church of Scotland chief Rev David Robertson Moderator says attacks on Murphy by the founder of a secular society amount to sectarian abuse.

SCOTTISH Labour leadership hopeful Jim Murphy is the victim of “sectarian” abuse, according to one of Scotland’s leading religious figures.

The next Free Church of Scotland Moderator said the East Renfrewshire MP has been targeted by opponents because of his catholic faith.

Rev David Robertson slammed repeated remarks by Scottish Secular Society Founder Gary Otton accusing Murphy of being “a catholic fanatic”, “a Pope Benedict fan” and “a religious fanatic”.

Otton posted four different Facebook threads about Murphy in the space of two days, all making reference to his religion and support for denominational schools.

Robertson described some of the comments as “disturbing”.

He said: “The Scottish Secular Society have posted several stories about ‘Catholic fanatic/extremist/Pope Benedict fan’ Jim Murphy over the past few days.

“I find it particularly disturbing this constant referral to Jim Murphy as Roman Catholic – what does that have to do with anything?

“It comes worryingly close to the kind of anti-Catholic sectarianism that plagued the West of Scotland – perhaps it still does.

“It is of no relevance or interest to me that a particular political candidate is Roman Catholic or not. Mr Murphy should be judged on his political views and abilities, not what church he belongs to.

“It is ironic that of all groups the Scottish Secular Society continues to highlight religious affiliation as though this were somehow a disqualifying factor.”

But Otton defended his remarks.

Gary Otton said: “The Scottish Secular Society have no problem with Mr Murphy’s beliefs, but a very great problem with the way in which we fear they will influence his political decisions.

“In particular, we don’t approve of support for the idea that bishops can be put in charge of sex education in Catholic schools.

“We are also concerned that he will defend privileges for organised religion, segregating children on the basis of their parents’ religion in denominational schools with separate staff rooms and entrances. We are utterly opposed to sectarianism in any shape or form.

“There is also general agreement amongst secularists that unelected religious representatives, both Catholic and Church of Scotland, voting on how Councils should deploy their limited education budgets is absurd.

“Murphy has been reported in the press praising the US because religion has a bigger role in politics. That is not a scenario the Scottish Secular Society would welcome in Scotland.

“Opinions on Facebook’s Secular Scotland are personal and social media is the appropriate place to express them. The Scottish Secular Society is the appropriate organisation to challenge the religious privileges.”

Murphy is favourite to be announced the next Scottish Labour leader on Saturday.

The winning candidate will replace Johann Lamont, who dramatically resigned in October.

There is a newer edition of this on The Record website – here….I’m sure it will be in the printed edition tomorrow and suspect that others will now pick this up. Meanwhile SSS keep digging themselves deeper into a hole – the sectarian comments on their FB page are horrendous!

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/fury-secular-society-chiefs-sectarian-4775349

Robertson will take over as Free Church of Scotland Moderator in May.