The Janet Parshall Show – Heaven and Hell

This was broadcast on Oct 20th – it was a difficult show to do because of the immensity of the subject and the fact that I was in Edinburgh at a friends flat and the phone line was not great – and I had just finished speaking at Edinburgh Uni CU…plus in the midst of a real spiritual battle….but they told me that the phone lines were full…and Janet was her usual superb self – she is a great interviewer and I very much enjoy working with her….

You can listen to it here –

Why Evangelical Tribalism Harms the Gospel

“My fear is that the decline of denominations, and the commercialisation of Christianity and the emergence of celebrity personality culture, have resulted in an increased atomisation of the evangelical world.”

This morning I woke up to a barrage of tweets and retweets from the US…of which one example – “Thank you for including @theweeflea in the tweet. He’s a prime example of unrelenting unrepentance despite loving calls for it.” Why Americans are tweeting one another telling each other not to go to St Peters is quite a puzzle! Anyway I had written this column before on the dangers of tribalism within the evangelical world.

My View On LGBTI Rights – An Article in KaleidoScot

This one should set the cat amongst the pigeons!

Recently an article appeared in a gay magazine which was critical of my nomination as moderator-designate. I challenged it and asked for the right of reply. To the credit of the editor, Dan Littauer, I was given it. So here is my first (and hopefully not last) article in a gay magazine.

The original article is here –

The Church in Post-Referendum Scotland

This article is published in Octobers ‘Record’ – the monthly magazine of the Free Church.

As I write this the result of the September referendum is unknown. All the polls indicate a ‘No’ win but polls have been wrong before. Who knows what may happen in the polling booth and as I have no desire to be stoned as a false prophet for making hasty predictions I will not hazard a guess. Rather my concern in this article is to reflect on a post-referendum Scotland, which whatever the result, will leave the church in general, and the Free Church in particular with some significant challenges and some great opportunities.

The Challenge of Militant Secularism.
In June of this year the Scottish government in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh issued their ‘Faith and Belief Scotland’ report. Apart from its showing a continued decline in those wishing to claim a connection with the Church of Scotland (down from 34% to 28%) and an increase in those who describe themselves as non-religious, the main item of interest was the finding that there was increasing polarisation between some who described themselves as ‘secular’ and the ‘religious’. This is indeed new territory for many people because of the misunderstanding of what secularism actually is and the way more militant atheists use it as a kind of Trojan horse in order to impose their faith on society.

On the service secularism is something that many Christians would agree with. At its most basic level it just simply means the separation of Church and State.
The Scottish Secular Society declares that it is working “to secure a secular future for Scotland, where all are free to follow their faith or convictions without fear or favour.” That all sounds wonderful. Until you actually discover what they mean. They are quite happy for Christians to believe what we want to believe, as long as we don’t seek to practice our beliefs in public life. For them a secular society means a society that is governed only according to their beliefs and faith. They of course deny that it is a faith – but that is precisely what it is. They have faith that human beings are fundamentally good, can do without God and need to be freed from the virus of religion. They also have faith that their way is the only way and anyone who disagrees should be excluded from civic society.

This type of atheist secularism is still very much a minority, but it is becoming increasingly vocal and militant. Whether it is seeking to get Christian teaching excluded from our Christian state education system or Gideon bibles banned from hotels, the Scottish Secularists will leave no stone unturned in their campaign to purge public Scotland of any remaining vestige of Christianity. Who in their right mind thinks that voluntary prayers at a council meeting is a breach of human rights?! As one comedian joked, that means that many schools are the equivalent of Stalinesque camps!

But it would be a mistake to see the more militant secularists as being the main danger. The bigger problem is that those who govern our society, lacking any coherent philosophy and belief system, tend to govern according to their own prejudices and instincts, which are informed by the dominant cultural narrative. That narrative is secular humanism.

The Challenge of Church Decline
Going hand in hand with a more militant atheistic secularism, and the adoption of secular humanism as the religion/philosophy of the State, has been the decline of the Christian church overall. Although the majority of people in Scotland (just) would still claim some kind of Christian faith, the fact is that the number of those attending church and engaging in any kind of Christian practice is declining. The Church reached a numerical peak in the 1950’s and it has been downhill ever since. Rather than that decline bottoming out (as for example in London), in Scotland it seems to be accelerating. The Church of Scotland has dropped below 400,000 members (it is doubtful whether more than 100,000 actually attend church each Sunday – meaning that less than 1% of Scotland’s population are actually in the Church of Scotland on any given Sunday) and is continuing to lose 20,000 members each year. It is facing a major financial crisis and above all a ministerial one, with only a handful of the required 30-40 ministers being trained each year. And its recent decisions on the shibboleth issue of our culture (homosexuality) mean that that situation is unlikely to be reversed. The picture is of a declining church in a declining culture. The Catholic Church is still struggling to recover from the child abuse scandals, and there is not much evidence that other Protestant churches are making much of an impact.

The Challenge of a Confused Culture
As a result of the new moralistic philosophy of secular humanism being adopted by the metro-elites and governors of our culture, and the lack of a coherent and strong ‘salt and light’ Christian church, our culture has become increasingly confused. Overall there has been a general dumbing down as politicians and others offer the ‘bread and circus’s’ mentality. Things that would have been unthinkable a decade ago (such as same sex ‘marriage’) have now become the norm of the new morality. Things that are unthinkable just now; infanticide, involuntary euthanasia, polygamy, paedophilia could easily become the new ‘norm/human right’ in a world where the rich and powerful determine what the moral values are. We are a society that has ‘equality’ as its mantra, but yet we are becoming more unequal. In one of the richest societies in the world we have tens of thousands who are relying on food banks. We say we value education yet we are dumbing down. Our politicians say they want to support ‘the family’ but are unable to define what that actually is, and as a result many of their actions end up undermining the family.

If Scotland has voted to remain in the United Kingdom we are faced with a society governed by leaders who talk about Christian values, but don’t know what they are. If Scotland has voted to become independent the Scottish government has already indicated that they are prepared to go down the somewhat fanciful, idealistic and dangerous route of the secular humanist Nirvana. The bottom line is that either way lies ruin and destruction. Our ‘progressives’ think that they ‘progressing’ towards a new utopia, whereas in reality they causing us to regress to the Greco/Roman/Pagan culture.

So is it all doom and gloom? Not at all. This is a day of opportunity.

The Opportunity of an Ignorant Culture
There are many people who are anti-Christian who just have no idea what Christianity teaches. To bring the living water of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to such spiritually thirsty people is a wonderful opportunity. Yes we can lament that most children in Scotland are today growing up without knowing the parable of the Good Samaritan or the Ten Commandments, but we should also do our best to tell them, the whole story of the Bible. We really can go to every person in Scotland and say ‘we have good news for you’, in the knowledge that for the vast majority it will indeed be news.

The Opportunity of Failed Secularism.
Where did the New Testament church flourish? In a Greco/Roman/Pagan culture! Why could we not flourish there again? As people discover that the values and practice of secular humanism lead to greater inequality, less social justice, more corruption, more sexual abuse and the decline of community and the family, there is a great opportunity for us in the church to proclaim and model a different way. The spiritual, material, emotional and social thirst of the people of Scotland will not be sated at the broken wells of secular humanistic atheism, nor at the poisoned wells of the new age or man made religions which are the cause of so much evil in the world. Like the New Testament church we can model a community based on the love of Christ which sets people free,creates new communities, feeds the poor, cares for the weak and turns the world upside down!

The Opportunity of a Renewed Church
Although overall the Church in Scotland is in decline, it is not all bad news. I see three areas where there is encouragement and renewal. Firstly in the independent evangelical churches associated with FIEC – eg. Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh and the work of Twenty Schemes in Niddrie and elsewhere are beacons of light. Secondly there are other biblical churches who have Christ and his Word at the centre of their lives and message who are seeing growth and development – some will be in the Church of Scotland, others associated with CLAN or other charismatic and ex-Brethren networks and some in the Baptist and Anglican churches. And, as Prof Finlayson used to say, how can anyone who believes in a Sovereign God exclude the possibility of him yet working in and through the Catholic Church?

And then there is the Free Church. In my view at the end of the 20th Century we were tottering on the edge of the cliff, about to fall into extinction. But in these first couple of decades in the 21st Century, the Lord has been gracious to us. We are seeing the first signs of a renewed and reinvigorated Presbyterianism in Scotland. New churches are being planted, people are being converted, The Free Church College has been relaunched as Edinburgh Theological Seminary, and there is a new leadership rising. Of course there are still significant problems and hurdles to overcome (not least our own sinfulness) but there is a hope, a ‘buzz’, an enthusiasm about the Free Church that I have never experienced before. When I hear cynical colleagues enthusing about Presbytery meetings I know that the millennium is near!

When I came to Dundee in 1992, St Peters was about to close. There were hardly 40 people involved in the Free Church in the whole of Tayside. Now with a revitalised St Peters, a church plant in St Andrews and a redeveloping Perth there are more than 500. It is not an impossible dream to see within the next decade a Tayside Presbytery. The bottom line is that new and renewed churches mean new and renewed Christians, which will then have a ripple effect throughout Scottish society.

The worst place to be an atheist is in an atheist country. Conversely the best place is a country where a Christian tolerance and view of humanity is deeply rooted within the structures, institutions and psyche of the nation. The vision of a ‘benign secularism’ is at best a fantastical dream. The choice is not between a theocratic Presbyterian Taliban state run by evangelical rednecks, waffling wooly liberal clergy and authoritarian paedophile priests, or an absolutist state where religion is reduced to the status of a knitting club. Why can we not reinvent the traditional Scottish model of an open tolerant State founded upon and with the ethos of, a biblical Christianity which recognizes that neither the State nor the Church is Absolute? Our societies metro-elites want the fruits of Christianity, without the roots. That’s not how the universe works. If post –referendum Scotland is to flourish then we need to heed the mottos of our two greatest cities and make them the anthems for the renewed nation. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain”. “Let Scotland flourish by the preaching of the Word.”

The God TV Enigma – The Real Problem with God TV is not Rory’s Adultery

God TV has announced that Rory Alec has left his wife, Wendy, for another woman and has therefore stepped down as CEO and presenter. God TV are in damage control mood, ‘calm down and carry on’ is their new slogan. The Christian media is full of comments about adultery, marriage faithfulness, forgiveness etc. I think the problem is much deeper – here is my article I wrote on it for Christian Today. I am delighted that they have published such a ‘controversial’ article. The link is below and the full text follows afterwards. I regard this as one of the most important things I have written…it is really time for us to challenge the nonsense and blasphemy that is being done in the name of Christ.

The God TV Enigma

The news that God TV co-founder Rory Alec has been suspended from his post as presenter and head of the organisation, because of ‘moral failure’ has come as a shock to some in the Christian world. Others have a ‘oh no, here we go again resignation’; whilst still others are quick to point out that we are all sinners and we should pray for and extend the grace of God to Rory and Wendy. All of these reactions are understandable but I would like to suggest that there is a danger that we won’t see the wood for the trees. The problem here is not primarily the adultery of one man, or the schadenfreude that critics of God TV might delight in. The problem goes much deeper and is something that the church in the West really needs to get hold of.

The Real Problem
I am not surprised at all by Rory’s ‘indiscretion’ – nor by the continual account of Christian CEO’s or celebrity Mega pastors being caught with either their hand in the till or their bodies in another’s bed. Why? Because whenever I have watched God TV, what comes across to me is that it is primarily about money and power. And when you have those two at the centre its not long before the third part of that particular unholy trinity, sex, rears its ugly head. Despite the fact that there were some occasional good things on it, I had to stop watching God TV because I used to get so depressed and angry. I have spent a great deal of time helping people whose faith, though initially boosted and encouraged by some of what they saw, eventually was battered, bruised and severely damaged by the theology and practices espoused on much of God TV. Take the example of so called ‘Missions’ weeks. They were nothing of the sort. They were purely and entirely about raising money. Now I realise that Rory and Wendy would tell us that it was about reaching one billion souls. That was hyperbolic sales talk, confusing the possibility that God TV ‘could’ be seen on several million TV sets, with the idea that they ‘would’ and that then all would believe. The manipulation, sales talk and constant pleading for money ‘for the work of the kingdom’ was nauseating.

Shiney Happy People
And the power. I have yet to see a God TV programme which extolled the virtues of weakness. Everything was about strength and power. Power-dressed shiny happy people beamed out of our TV screens a picture of wealth, health and success. Continually we were assured that somewhere out there was someone called Marge who had just been healed of cancer, or Tom whose marriage was about to be restored, or Dave whose business had just been boosted because of the cheque he wrote. There was nothing about Bill who had just lost his job, Susan whose daughter had just died, or Tim who went bankrupt after he mortgaged his house in order to give money to God TV. I even watched complete charlatans like Todd Bentley kick a woman in the face because ‘the Holy Spirit told him to’ and then pronounce that he had raised several people from the dead – however he could not name them because of ‘patient confidentiality’! He too of course fell into the money, power and sex trap – before GodTV, ‘graciously restored’ him and gave him yet another platform for his aberrations. And yet I know churches in the UK who were so desperate to ‘catch the anointing’ that they bought into all of this guff. This kind of TV is of more use to the New Atheist movement than it is to the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Wendy Won’t Like It
After speaking at CLAN (the largest charismatic conference in Scotland), I was interviewed by God TV. The producer told me that he loved the interview but that there was no way it would ever be broadcast. When I asked why, his answer revealed a great deal about GodTV – ‘Wendy wouldn’t like it’. God TV was not about what God wanted, or what the Church needed. It was the Rory and Wendy show, and the show of all those tele-evangelists who were wealthy enough to buy into it. The language was always hyper spiritual, the onstage hysteria real, but behind the scenes there were the usual power games and struggles associated with secular corporations.

The Real Moral Failure
And therein lies the problem. The Church is not a corporation. Nor is it an entertainment or an advertising agency. Godliness is not a way to get wealthy. Or famous. Or to have your own ‘ministry’. The Church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth. Much of modern corporate Christianity has become pillarless and groundless. As a result it has also become brainless, banal and spiritually bankrupt. And it is certainly not harmless. I was visited this week by a friend who has just returned from six weeks real mission work amongst the poor in Africa. In some of these really poor countries, the world of corporate, commercialised Christianity, imported from the wealthy West, has taken root. There are mega pastors selling holy water for $1000, stealing money from the old, the sick and the poor, in order to pay for their mega mansions and luxury cars. The problem with God TV is not the moral failure of Rory’s adultery. It is the moral failure of associating the Good News of Jesus to the poor with the prosperity gospel and health and wealth blasphemy of Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer.

Keep Quiet
When I write like this the objection immediately comes. Don’t be so harsh and hard. Why are you speaking against a brother and sister like this? How is that like Christ? Well – did not Jesus call the religious hypocrites of his day ‘white-washed tombs, twice dead’? Did not Paul tell the Galatian false teachers to go the whole way and emasculate themselves?! I have a genuine concern for Wendy – as I watched the cruelty of her live ‘revival alert’ which was much more like a Dr Phil confessional, I was so saddened for that betrayed woman. And angry with the people who continue to feed the illusion that she is the anointed one to save a billion souls. At best it is delusional, at worst it is a horrible blasphemy to have an American ‘prophetess’ screaming down the phone at her that the Lord told her directly that the endtime harvest was coming through Wendy. And it is oh so cruel. Far crueller than my words.

But some will say – “It has helped me…God spoke to me through it.’ I don’t doubt that. Poison is always far more effective when coated in sugar.

Blaspheming the Spirit?
Some will warn me ‘Don’t criticise the work of the Holy Spirit’. I totally agree. But is it not a false assumption to declare that everything that claims to be of the Spirit is of the Spirit? Is it not wrong to attribute the work of the Spirit to the delusions and manipulations of man? We are to test the spirits. And how do we test? If they glorify Christ, speak according to the Word of God and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.

Look at Christ
Rory Alec in his statement says that we should not look at him, but look at Christ. But TV says look at me. This is not to say that TV cannot be used as a medium to proclaim the Gospel. There are Christian TV stations that do a good job. But it is a medium that it is very difficult to use. The Christian evangelist, preacher, TV personality must be someone whose aim is to point away from themselves and towards Jesus Christ – and not just when we have a ‘moral failure’. We exist to serve Christ and His Church. They do not exist to serve us. Like John the Baptist we declare, “He must increase, I must decrease”. Ironically even as I type this I am listening to a preacher on God TV tell us ‘no, no, no – he wants us to increase!”

Basic Christianity
The simple truth that we need to grasp is this – The six billion souls will be reached, not through the slick marketing, self-promoting, mega powerful corporations; nor through the hysterical delusions and manipulation of self-appointed ‘apostolic-prophetic’ ministries, but rather through hundreds of thousands of local churches humbly and lovingly proclaiming and living Christ in local communities, with the Word of God, by the Spirit of God, through the people of God. Its basic Christianity!

The Hundred-Foot Journey – The ‘Masterchef’ film.

This was a good evening’s entertainment but I won’t be buying the DVD. The story is of an Indian family who set up an Indian restaurant in a French village, just across the road from a Michelin starred French Restaurant, run by Madame Mallory (wonderfully played by Helen Mirren). The film is beautifully shot (especially the food!), it is warm, gentle and a real feel-good film. The plot line is predictable from the beginnning, and the character development non-existent. If you like your films like your food, rich, deep and subtle, this is not the film for you. On the other hand if you are hungry for a bit of quick entertainment mixed in with a dash of homespun Oprah Winfrey philosophy and a smattering of Spielberg direction, then this would be perfect for you.

An Open Letter to DG Hart

Darryl G Hart is an Orthodox Presbyterian Elder, an historian and visiting Professor of History at Hillsdale College, Michigan. He is the author of several interesting books including A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State, and From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism. I have a couple of other books of his on my ‘to read list’. I have never met with Mr Hart, never spoken to him, never written about him and yet he seems to take quite an interest in some of my musings. In his latest offering, Darryl speaks of ‘our interactions’. Given that we have not actually had any – I thought I might try. And see if I can help my Reformed Historian brother, come to a better understanding of Reformed history! Here is the original post…(which Darryl helpfully posted on my blog),

And here is my response:

Dear Darryl,

Thanks for posting your wee comments on some of my musings. I have to confess I found them a little bit hard to understand so forgive me if I have picked you up wrong. I thought that since you deemed to worthwhile to comment on my comments, I would do you the courtesy of taking you seriously and respond…

1) You talk about our interactions. I am not sure that we have actually had any (hence this letter). I understand interaction as being when one person speaks, another responds, the first responds to that and so on. They interact with one another. From what I understand you post some of my comments, make a couple of encouraging and disparaging remarks and then leave it. There does not appear to be any interaction. Unless you call the mocking comments by various posters on your site that usually follow, interaction. On this side of the pond we generally like our interaction to be well, interactive. We talk to each other (not about each other),we argue and we engage. I’m afraid we are not large enough to engage in the kind of tribalism that seems to infect the American Reformed church.

2) Thanks for the advice about hearing myself. I personally hate to listen to myself and to read what I write. I don’t really like talking to myself. I prefer talking to and listening to others. In that respect sometimes it is fascinating seeing how one is perceived by others at a great distance. Thanks for the insight.

3) I am sorry that you think I have a patronising attitude towards Christianity in the United States. I hope that I don’t. Firstly I don’t actually know enough about it, and secondly I have greatly benefited from many Christians and churches in the US. My life would be much poorer without the likes of Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias and many of the non-superstar American Christians I have come to know and love. I am also a little concerned that you think there is nothing wrong with being patronising about the Church in the US. I think it is actually a dreadful thing – and certainly not something I would want to do, or make a career out of!

4) I am not sure I should be classed a defender of Tim Keller. Tim can speak for himself. What I find fascinating is the advice I was given to stay out of the cesspit that is American church politics. It strikes me as wise advice that I try to heed. I cannot understand why people seem to find it so appealing and essential to attack and condemn those are different from them. Is it really because they are the bigger fish in the small pond? Personally I remain deeply thankful to the Lord for the ministry of TK and I rejoice in the new partnership between TK/Redeemer and Ligon Duncan and RTS. I’m sure you will join in the celebrations!

5) I may be wrong but it seems as though you are not the biggest TK fan. So I assume that stating that even TK would not express himself in the way I do, is your way of saying ‘how low can you get’! What I find intriguing is that you then give a lengthy quote from yours truly and use it to complain about the way I speak about Prime Minister Cameron and other UK officials. The trouble is that the quote was not about Cameron or other UK officials. You are an historian and therefore you should know that a text without a context is just a pretext. You manage to quote me speaking about Scottish religious and political officialdom and then comment as though I was talking about the UK Prime Minister. The very opposite of what was being said. Besides which, much as I appreciate and love Tim Keller, I don’t determine how I speak, or what I say, by him or anyone else, (outwith Scripture).

6) Can you help me with your remark – ‘though if Keller channelled Robertson he would be a lot more interesting to read’? We are not really into ‘channelling’ on this side of the pond – we tend to associate it with New Age practice (are you in California?) – however were you saying that TK would be much more interesting if he wrote like me (a wee dig at him and not true) or that I would be much more interesting if I wrote like Tim (a wee dig at me – and certainly true). Either way it’s a wee bit of a catty remark isn’t it and not really something you should be sending to me to post on my blog is it?

7)Thanks for quoting my last quote – I like it so much (and often I don’t like my quotes) that I repeat it here “In 1979 I had just become a Christian – I saw in the Gospel a far deeper hope and more radical solution that even Mrs Thatcher was offering and, as I wept, I dedicated myself to proclaiming the cause of Christ, where-ever He called me. Today I weep again for my country and I rededicate myself to that same cause. I don’t want to spend my time trying to steady the sinking ship. I want to man the lifeboats and rescue the drowning. I want to turn the world upside down. Is that so wrong?! Were you citing it as something to be commended or condemned? I’m sorry but I don’t understand the subtle nuances of American Reformed culture – as a Brit I just don’t get that irony thing! Mind you I enjoyed a laugh at the man who commented on your blog “Wow, the equivalency he’s making in that second quote is thoroughly Xian Right.” I’ll have to keep that one for my resume – its makes a change from being called a socialist! I am not ashamed to say that I believe that politics will never save my country and that I do look for a spiritual revolution/reformation/revival.

8) I find it interesting that you cite the USA as an example of a Christian Revolution. Interesting for lots of ways. You are someone who critiques the American church constantly and especially the ‘we are a Christian nation’ theocrats. So do you reckon that the USA is a Christian Revolution that failed? As you seem to have been against Scotland being independent of the UK, do you think that the colonies should be returned to her Majesty now that the American Christian Revolution has failed?

9) I don’t blame you for this one – after all one can chose one’s friends but not one’s commentators but do you not find this comment which appeared on your blog, rather trivial and unbalanced? “And while the UK (still) religious and secular press hail Robertson as a visionary and a successful religious figure please remember that he was a big part of introducing hymns into the previously exclusive psalmody Free Church — a dubious accomplishment in my mind. I think someone else on your blog accused me of introducing contemporary worship. I can see the thinking – socialism leads to cymbalism! I used to love the way that a handful of people in the OPC and PCA would go on about ‘purity of worship’ and marvel at the quaint ‘Brigadoon’ image they had of the Free Church. I am sorry that we spoiled that vision. The Free Church actually had a full, frank and honest biblical discussion on this over a period of four years and we came to a biblical conclusion and changed our practice – which is now actually the practice of your own denomination. We still sing psalms, we have not split (in fact we are growing) and we have not turned into a bunch of happy clappy Arminians! Go figure.

And while you are figuring, perhaps you can tell me why anyone in the US would comment on anything I write or say? Not just on your blog, but also in a few other US sites, I come across (or get sent links to) people I don’t know, and who don’t know me, talking about what I believe and think – and often just getting it completely wrong. My favourite was a Baptist eccentric who managed to take 45 minutes of an hour long sermon to critiquing yours truly because I did not think that American street preachers yelling at people on the streets of Scotland was the most effective way of communicating the Gospel. I’m sure you will agree that was hardly ‘preaching the Word of God’! My point is that I cannot see how anything I write would be of any relevance in some of the circles it gets quoted. But if it is, I would appreciate if people could actually argue against what I do say and not attribute motives and beliefs I don’t have. E.g. Just because I appreciated our National Health Service does not mean that I am an Obama supporting socialist and Satanist!

One small matter for some of your correspondents – I don’t mind people who know me well calling me ‘Robbo’ or having a wee go. But those who don’t know me at all? It’s a bit cheap…so until you know me better, give up the faux pas familiarity and stick with ‘brother’ or ‘Sir’!

10) And finally…lets turn to history again. You argue against the Establishment Principle and for a strict separation of Church and State. You may be right. It could be that the traditional Reformed position of Calvin, Luther, Knox, Chalmers, McCheyne etc. is wrong and that these men were just a product of their age and culture. It could be that the best system is the US style separation of Church and State. Or it could be that we are just as much a product of our age and culture. I don’t know if you would be interested but I wrote a defence of the Establishment Principle for the Free Church’s 150th anniversary in a book of essays called ‘Crown Him Lord of All.
As Christianity declines in the US I’m not so sure that your system will not actually result in more extreme atheistic secular humanism than we get in Europe with our decaying Church state system. I actually don’t know the reality of what we will happen – though I suspect we would both agree that without Christ all our systems will fail.

I know you are a history lecturer but you will forgive me for offering a little correction to your misunderstanding of the situation in Scotland. You wrote “ But shouldn’t he also say something about a complicated relationship between church and state in Scotland that concedes that the head of the church — the British monarch — is also head of the state.” It’s a simple but important fact; the Queen is not head of the Church of Scotland or in Scotland and never has been. Basic Presbyterian church polity tells us that Christ is the sole head of the Church. Basic Scottish history tells us that people were prepared to die for that belief!

I think I’ll leave it there. It’s been fun. If you actually want to interact (as opposed to using me as a sounding board for whatever particular political issue is playing out in your circles across the pond) feel free to do so. Even better, the next time you are in Edinburgh Theological Seminary let me buy you a beer and give you a copy of Chalmers six lectures on the Establishment Principle!

Wishing you all the best,

Your brother in Christ


PS. After writing this I went back to your blog which you linked me to. It is very very sad the pettiness, viciousness and ignorance shown in the comments. How pathetic that you seriously have people who think my speaking at Twin Lakes was a sign of its Downgrade – and the nasty snide comments about TK and LD. Do you think you could discourage this kind of comment (and the ‘fake David Robertson’ one) and encourage some of your followers to a) grow up a wee bit and b) start thinking and behaving like Christian men and not internet cowards. Having read the comments I’m afraid I have no desire to engage in any kind of internet debate. I have too much to do and don’t really want to wade around in that cesspit. I will of course respond to any serious comments you might make in due course….but sorry – I’m out of this. Already it leaves a bad taste..Lets just get on with The Work.