Quantum of Solas 26 – Hillary Clinton, American Pie. Prove God, Libya, Kill the Christians, , Vinyl, Louis Theroux

Al Smith has done a superb production job on this weeks Quantum.  We cover a lot –    Hillary for America | American Pie | Question of Faith: Prove God exists | Libya | Kill the Christians | Syrian girl “surrenders” | Louis Theroux Transgender Kids | Call for churches to lose tax status for not being pro-homosexual | 3000 laws per year | Vinyl resurrected | Gary v Loki

http://www.solas-cpc.org/wp/2015/04/quantum-of-solas-26/

feel free to comment, pass on, subscribe!   The links are especially interesting!

Church of Scotland Blues – What the May 2015 Assembly Reports tell us about the State of the Kirk

It’s a beautiful glorious day outside St Petes and I really feel I should be cycling along the shores of the Tay, but instead I have been stuck in the church office reading the Church of Scotland Blue book – the book of Assembly reports that has just come out. I thought that given my previous posts on the subject and my interest as the upcoming Free Church moderator, it would be worth catching up on what is happening. I have read most of it (its 428 pages long), although to be honest skim read is probably more accurate for the majority. Like most church reports of this kind you have to be a particular type of Assembly geek to enjoy reading them (I am not), but there are some interesting points which I thought I would share with you and thus save you the bother of reading the whole thing.

If you want to do so you can get it here – http://files.gapublications.co.uk/church-of-scotland-volume-of-reports-blue-book-2015_0.pdf

Here are some of the points I picked up on.

  1. Membership is down 16,000 to 380,000.
  2. Number of ministers is down from 940 in 2009 to 811 in 2014.
  3. The Church of Scotland remains opposed to assisted suicide.
  4. The Church expects to be at least 200 parish ministers short by the 2020’s, even with declining congregations.
  5. There were 67 applications for ministry in 2014 (97 in 2009).
  6. The act re allowing ministers to depart from the ‘official’ stance and practice on same sex partnerships has been passed by Presbyteries and will become law at this Assembly.
  7. The Church of Scotland will does not regard Same Sex Marriage the same as it does marriage.
  8. The United Free Church has moved away from its ‘covenant’ with the Church of Scotland because of the stance on ministers in same sex partnerships.
  9. The Church is concerned that it is open to civil legal action in the future if any of its ministers refuse to conduct a same sex wedding.
  10. The Theological Forum ‘may be instructed to think theologically about SSM’.

Of course there is much more and some of that is good. But overall here is my conclusion. And I’m sorry to any of my C of S friends if it is a bit blunt – but the wounds of a friend are faithful.

The decline in the C of S is worse than I had thought and that the figures initially indicate.   The C of S press office, and doubtless Assembly will put a positive spin on them (look at the good work we are doing, look at how many members we still have, things are bottoming out etc.). They do this every year and every year the decline continues and indeed accelerates.   Just look at the pattern over the past ten years.

2004                           2014                           Decline

Membership –              535, 834                   380, 163                    -155,671

Baptisms –                   7,745                         5,147                       -2,598

Elders –                        41,621                       32,834                      -8,787

Professions of Faith     2,661                        1,273                        -1,388

The truth is simply this – not one presbytery in the Church of Scotland saw growth last year. The decline is accelerating not decreasing, the Church of Scotland is declining by a higher percentage each year.   The Church is losing the equivalent of around 40 churches per year; 16,000 members per year; 879 elders per year; 25 ministers per year. Net. There was on average last year only around one profession of faith per congregation, and two new members by certificate. Yet on average there were three removals by certificate, ten by death and seven ‘for other reasons’.     To put it another way, on average each Church of Scotland congregation gained three members but lost twenty.   For every person who becomes a member of the Church of Scotland by profession of faith in Christ, ten existing members die. The Church of Scotland is literally dying.

It is apparently without a trace of irony that one of the reports on ministry says ‘a flourishing church leads to a flourishing ministry’. Is the opposite not also true?

I pray that the Church of Scotland will be renewed and revitalized and that these figures will be reversed. I long for the day when we can say that for every member of the church who dies, ten are being added though the New Birth!   But I also believe that the C of S is declining numerically because it is also in a theological and moral decline.   Only the robust biblical faith of our Reformation forefathers will be able to stand, and flourish, in today’s secular culture.   But instead of that robust biblical faith this report again indicates that the downgrade in the C of S continues, and indeed may have gone beyond the point of no return (a point that those who still love that biblical faith and yet remain seriously need to consider). One indication of this is the Same Sex debacle.

The C of S is hopelessly confused as it attempts to balance on the one hand those who uphold the traditional biblical Christian teaching, with, on the other, those who just want to go along with the spirit of the age, and ignore the teachings of Christ. To claim that the Church upholds the traditional view on same sex partnerships, but will allow its office bearers to ‘depart’ from that, is as stupid as it is suicidal. To declare that same sex marriage is not marriage, and then allow ministers who are living in a sexual relationship outside marriage, to continue as ministers, is as far removed from the Reformed standards of the Church, as it is possible to be. The Church of Scotland has abandoned not only the faith of its forefathers, but also the faith of Christ. Until she repents and turns, then she cannot expect His blessing.   Repentance and Reformation, come before Revival and Renewal. Turn us O Lord, and we shall be turned!

My earlier article on the reasons for decline of the C of S is here:

https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/ten-reasons-why-the-church-of-scotland-is-in-decline/

Satan attacks the Church of Scotland – https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/satan-attacks-the-church-of-scotland/

And some reflections on last years Assembly – https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/reflections-on-a-sunny-sad-historic-afternoon-at-the-church-of-scotland-general-assembly/

Is the Free Church the Answer?

Is the Free Church the Answer?

(The Church in Scotland in 2015 – part 3)

In my two previous posts (see links below) I looked at why the Church of Scotland is in decline and some of the problems with the notion of a Post-Presbyterian Scotland. But what about the Free Church? I am a Free Church minister (and have been so for 29 years!) and I am, despite numerous letdowns and pains, a loyal ‘Free Churchman’.   Therefore it seems legitimate for Christians in other denominations, who perceive themselves to be under attack, by some of the articles I write, to ask what about the Free Church? Am I really seeking to build up my own denomination by knocking down others?   I really hope that is not the case. In some sense one is harder on one’s own family. But I do think it is time for us to take an overview of where the Free Church is.

There is no doubt that the Free Church of Scotland is on the up.   And it’s not primarily because of ex-Church of Scotland people coming to us. There have been significant changes that the Lord seems to be blessing. The following is a brief overview, (the history of the Free Church in the 20th Century remains to be written) but lets summarise the past four decades in the church. One caveat – this is personal and through my eyes and will not necessarily correspond with other peoples experience.

Four Decades

The 1980’s were a good time for a young person to come into the Free Church. There was a buzz about the young people, Highways and Byways missions were on going, church planting happened, and the youth camps were growing and developing. A number of young men came into the ministry who are now effectively the main leaders in today’s church. Going through the Free Church College was exciting and for me, being the youngest minister in the church (in Brora), in what was then the most exciting Presbytery (the Northern) in the denomination, it seemed as though the only way was up.

And then came the 1990’s. Whilst I enjoyed moving to St Peters in Dundee and gradually seeing a dying congregation revived, the 1990’s was a dreadful decade in the denomination that almost killed us. A declining church struggled with internal infighting over discipline, the future direction of the church, money and how we coped with a changing ecclesiastical and civil culture in Scotland.   This resulted in the split of 2000 and the forming of the Free Church (Continuing)- yet another Presbyterian church claiming to be the true heirs of the Scottish Reformation!   Despite the dire warnings of a third of the Church leaving, we lost less than 10%, although we did lose 26 ministers.   Whilst it was painful, and we lost some good people, overall it turned out that much of it was ‘blessed subtraction’ – we lost a number of people who were significant hindrances to the development and growth of the church.   As a result the dam was broken and the church actually advanced 20 years in two.

The 2000’s were a decade of re-building and some renewal. We had major issues to deal with – the most important in a structural sense were worship, the college, mission and finance. We began to face up to all of these, with a number of leaders and thinkers stepping up to the mark. At a personal level I felt that if the Church had not reformed and renewed by my 25th year in the ministry (2011) then it would have been over.   However things did change. Dramatically. Not just with the stunning decision over worship but also in a more realistic attitude to who we were and what needed to be done.   The worship decision was stunning not only because of the result (which no-one expected), but the way it was done and the fact, that despite all the direst predictions, there was not another split in the church.

And so to the current decade. We are half way through and in many ways things are looking up. Membership is increasing, some churches are growing, new church plants are again happening, new churches are coming in, the college (now Edinburgh Theological Seminary) has moved from the point of closure to wandering where to put all the new students, the youth conference is packed out, churches are developing new ministries and much, much more.   There is a sense of excitement, encouragement and renewal.   This was captured well by one of our missionaries from South America, who having just been on furlough here makes the following observations:

“Finally, a wee word of encouragement: having visited so many congregations of the FCS and talked to so many people, we are deeply encouraged ourselves after having seen the overall change in mood that we have sensed all over it. There is a sense of renewed passion for the Gospel, a sense of joy for the growth seen (small in some places, spectacular in others, yet still expected in others… but it is expected, not only wished for!), and a very beautiful sense of unity in diversity (which was an open question the last time we visited) and which has made of the FCS a welcoming church for our brethren who have had to leave their own churches for different reasons in a necessarily painful process, but who can feel welcomed and embraced in a church where they can heal and go on serving and worshipping God in a nurturing environment. “

 Have we arrived? Some of us have been working hard for decades to see this kind of change and we are thankful…but…(and you knew there had to be a ‘but’), we have only just begun.   I want to look at some problems and possibilities. Again a caveat. I don’t mean to offend people and I don’t want you to read between the lines..there is no in-between! And I also reluctantly admit that each of these problems I identify, are mine as an individual as well as the church as a community.

Problems

  • We are too Proud – Sinful pride is always a killer. I once saw a documentary that spoke about the Free Church in Lewis as being ‘the last stronghold of the pure Gospel’. It is a title that sometimes we are too keen to take seriously. Whilst it is right to be thankful for what the Lord has given us, it is sinful to take the glory to ourselves. Pride takes deep root in our hearts and is hard to root out.
  • We are too Parochial – After a century of being the ‘Wee Frees’, often derided as a bunch of ignorant Highlanders, it is difficult to move from a defensive mindset to a more open one.   It is very easy to be become focused on our own small ecclesiastical world and not see the bigger picture. Whilst we need to beware of the ‘tyranny of the visionary’, we need also to realize that without vision the people perish.
  • We are too Petty – Being parochial can in turn lead to a pettiness that is not healthy. People become obsessed about relatively trivial things. As one minister said, “I have seen people weep over the movement of a communion table. I have never seen them weep over the lost”. Sometimes the pettiness, and the resultant grudges astonish me. I have seen people passionate about exclusive psalmody, women wearing hats, times of services, pulpits, ‘the traditions’ or the latest ecclesiastical fads, but not noticed that same passion for Christ. There is something wrong when people can argue about posture in prayer and the timing of the prayer meeting, but then seldom if ever actually go to it. I am now at a stage in life that when I see someone being upset about the movement of a pulpit, I don’t believe them. There are almost always underlying issues and reasons (which even they may not be aware of), which indicate that a principle of ‘transference’ is in operation. Most issues are actually personal, not doctrinal, and this means that people sometimes transfer their angst about personal issues (which are too sore to discuss) on to ecclesiastical issues, which have the advantage of enabling you to feel passionate about the holy, whilst not letting anything get to close to your real situation.
  • We are too Political – Presbyterianism is perfect for amateur politicians. With our church courts, committees, agendas, strategies, and organisations – it is far too easy for things to become too political. The 1990’s were a severe warning to us how dangerous it is to play politics with Christ’s Church. Although things are a lot healthier I am not convinced that we have got rid of that political spirit altogether.   It means that we are far too easily blocked from doing things, changing things and moving on for the Gospel.   Every church needs and has structures and procedures, but even more we need Spirit filled men and women who can use and fill those structures and procedures for the glory of Christ, not politicians who will misuse them for their own glory.
  • We are Poor – Although in many ways we are rich. The Lord has richly blessed us. We have been given a rich heritage, we have a fount of rich bible teaching, we a rich resource in our wonderful people….and yet I cannot help but feel that the words of Christ to the church in Laodicea are applicable to us: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

 Maybe it’s a bit harsh to say we are ‘poor’ – but how else can you describe the decline in the evening service, the half-hearted approach to evangelism, the ‘me, me and my tribe’ attitude, and above all the lack of interest in corporate prayer. The latter is always a sure sign of spiritual declension. And lest people think that I am lashing out in frustration against others I just simply add mea culpa, ‘I am the chief of sinners’!

But I don’t want to leave it there. Christ not only challenged the seven churches, he also commended them for what they had, and their faithfulness. There is the paradox of being a sinner in a sinful church in a sinful world.   We are full of contradictions of grace and mercy!

Possibilities

1) Presbyterian – We should be encouraged that we are Presbyterian, in the best biblical sense of the world. We are not in a state of chaotic anarchy. We are not a denomination dominated by one or two mega-celebrities or personalities. The weak are supported by the strong and there is a collective responsibility that is biblical and healthy. May the Lord grant that we would be able to develop a more biblical contemporary Presbyterianism fit for 21st Century Scotland. This means more freedom for the local church, along with more willing sacrifice and co-operation for the area, national and international church.  Because we are Presbyterian I would encourage all those who share our view of theology, ecclesiology and vision to come and join with us.  I still can’t get my head round people who are Presbyterians thinking that Presbyterianism works better if there are lots of Presbyterian denominations!

2) Prophetic – I believe in prophecy. The proclaiming of Gods Word to the generation we now live in. Glasgow’s old motto “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word’, must surely be ours. We want the whole of Scotland to flourish and in order for that to happen we must proclaim his Word, his Good News. That is the Raison ‘d’etre of the Free Church. We proclaim that word in and to the Church, but we must also proclaim that word in and to the world.

3) Persuasive – We must be persuasive evangelists, giving people reasons to believe. There has been a tendency in some Reformed circles to think that the Arminians and the Pentecostals are the best at going out with the Gospel, and then when people are converted the Reformed are to come in and ‘teach them the way of God more perfectly’. Is that really the case? Should good theology not lead to better evangelism? Sometimes you hear people speak of evangelism and mission as almost optional extras. “We want a pastor/church that will look after our own people, then, with what we have left, we can do out and fulfill the Great Commission”. The only problem is that the ‘then’ never comes. A church devoted to a maintenance mentality will never move beyond that. We need to realize that we have a great message, with great communities of Gods people that illustrate and embody it. Why then are we so reluctant and lacking confidence?

4) Pastoral – Evangelism and communicating the Good news should never be set against pastoral care, as though it was either one or the other. Surely it should be both/and!   We are to make disciples. Disciples are sheep who need taught, fed and watered.   The best witness to the love of God is the love we have for one another. Church is not a lecture, or a golf club, or a political party. We are a family. A dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. Therefore pastoral care is essential to the overall well being of the Church. Woe to the shepherds who do not take care of all the flock! However we need to move away from the model of the one-man shepherd, the Protestant Pope and the perception that pastoral care is something that is done to us, rather than by us. Elders are called to be ‘under-shepherds’ of the one Great Shepherd, but the sheep are also to care for one another. We don’t believe in two tier Christianity.

5) Practical – I have always found the Free Church to be practical. There can too often be an unthinking pietism/quietism within the Christian Church.   But I have generally found in the Free Church that when you ask people to step in and do practical things, many are more than happy to do so.   However there is one concern I have here – as our society changes I fear that those changes get reflected in the community of the church. There is a danger we could become more individualistic, more middle class (in the sense of paying people to do things for this rather than mucking in ourselves) and less ‘committed’.

Whilst much of the practical work has been done in quiet, through families and secular agencies, increasingly we are finding the need for the church to engage in more and more mercy ministries – especially as the State is increasingly unable to plug the gaps.   It’s a bit like the beginnings of the Free Church in 1843, when Thomas Chalmers revived the role of Deacon, as the church became more aware of its need to serve the poor. Are we heading back that direction again?   Whether its projects like the Capstone café in Alness, or Road to Recovery, or CAP, or Bethany, or the Smithton family worker….there are good things happening. May it just be a beginning…

Conclusion:  I have no idea what to expect for the Free Church, but I do have great expectations.   The Lord is clearly at work in our midst and I believe that God has brought us to Scotland for such a time as this. The Free Church is not THE answer but we can be part of the solution.    We must work with other churches (the notion of being THE national church in a Christian Scotland – is one that is not applicable in todays Scotland) and we must be prepared to become less, so that He might become greater.   And for that above all I think we need prayer. If we have been hurt and wounded by the Church, we pray that the Lord would give us the ability to pray ‘forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’. If we are in a dead and dying congregation, we need to fervently pray for renewal and revival. If we feel that we have grown lukewarm or cold pray that the Lord would warm us up and grant us passion. If we recognize ourselves in the above analysis we need to repent, and come to the Christ who is knocking at the door and who wants to come in and dine with us! Lord renew your work…and may that renewal being in us!

The two earlier articles are here:

Ten Reasons why the Church of Scotland is in decline –

https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/ten-reasons-why-the-church-of-scotland-is-in-decline/

Post Presbyterian Scotland – https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/post-presbyterian-scotland/

Christian Conferences – Should you go?

This is my latest article on Christian Today – Have you been to a Christian Conference this year?  Should you go?  Or is it your idea of purgatory?!

It’s that time of year again. Christian conference season is well under way. Whatever your taste there is sure to be something for you – from the mega conferences to your church weekend away, the week long holiday with Bible teaching, or the one-day event ‘that will change your life forever’, there is something for every flavour of Christian. Do you want a quiet contemplative ‘retreat’, or do you want to ‘advance’ the kingdom with signs, wonders and booming bass? Do you want to have fantastic fellowship with your fellow Christians, or it is your idea of the nearest thing to purgatory on earth, spending your precious holiday time with your dysfunctional Christian family? Are conferences good for building up the kingdom of God, or are they just pale copies of ‘worldly’ holidays, and glorified promotional opportunities for celebrity Christians or the latest fad from over the Atlantic?

I have been attending Christian conferences since the 1970s, from the time when at the tender age of 16 I went to the tiny but wonderful OMF conference in the Highland village of Brora, to last year’s Keswick Convention. I hope the following observations might help us as we consider their role in the life of the Church in the UK today.

1. If you have never been, why not give it a go?

Whether it was youth conferences, Bible teaching conventions or Christian holidays, as a young believer I was greatly helped by some wonderful Bible teaching, glorious praise and meeting lots of believers my own age. It is a time of feasting – spiritually and physically. It is a time set apart, a ‘Sabbath’ from our normal routine, which enables us ordinary mortals to get some rest, recreation and spiritual feeding. Some of us are too cynical for our own good. We have prejudices which preclude us from trying out any Christian conference. Time to think again?

2. Beware of becoming a Conference Christian.

I’m talking about the practice of living off the occasional spiritual highs and boosts, before sinking back into the mediocrity of normal Christian living back in the real world. This was, and is, a real danger. The point of a special feast is not that you don’t eat food at other times. It is meant to enhance your normal life, not replace it.

3. Remember, they are not for everyone at every season of their lives.

Being in what felt like 24/7 ministry, the last thing my wife and young family wanted to do was give our precious holidays over to yet another ‘ministry’ situation. We wanted and needed to get away. Nowadays I try to go to one ministry conference where I am not a speaker, but our family holidays are generally spent on our own.

4. Try something different.

I have spoken at conferences as varied as Creation Fest, Spring Harvest, Word Alive, CLAN, and the granddaddy of them all, Keswick. I tend to get invited to a variety of conferences which means that you get to experience things that you don’t normally see. Whether it’s a different way of worship, a different church culture or just the wacko and bizarre (like the time in one speakers tent the main ‘prophet’ told us that the Lord had told him we should demonstrate our faith by literally eating grass – I refused on the grounds that I was sane and personally I thought he had been smoking it); it is all part of the rich tapestry of Christian life. If you are able to go to a couple of events per year why not choose one ‘safe’ one that you know you are going to enjoy, and one ‘risky’, outwith your comfort zone?

5. Enjoy the Diversity of the Christian Family.

I once spoke at Spring Harvest when it was the most popular Christian conference in Europe. It was surreal speaking in a pub called ‘Merrie England’ at midnight to 20 punters on the doctrine of predestination! It was beyond surreal turning up in a large hall to speak to a couple of hundred people on the doctrine of Hell, only to find that either side of me were two massive flame-throwing heaters. In my best John McEnroe voice I told the stewards “You cannot be serious! There is no way that I am going to speak about Hell with two flame throwers either side of me!” But despite the strangeness and the difference for me I enjoyed meeting brothers and sisters from many different backgrounds.

6. Beware of Celebrity Christianity.

Don’t just go to the conferences for the ‘big name’ speakers. In Christ’s kingdom there is only one big name. Celebrity Christianity is for me an oxymoron. I think of the ‘celebrity’ speaker who demanded first class tickets, his own dressing room and flowers! (I suggested to the organisers that that should have automatically excluded him). On the other hand you meet people like John Stott who was as gracious, kind and humble in private as he was in public. Faith affirming.

7. Get well fed.

One delegate at a conference told me that it provided ‘food for the body and food for the soul’. That’s not a bad description. Just as I would not enjoy a conference which provided me with junk food, we need to beware that we do not get fed spiritual junk food. Any Christian conference worthy of the name needs to ensure that the spiritual food is biblical.

I hope that the Christian conference scene continues, develops and grows. May the dross die, and the good flourish. May that which builds up the Kingdom of Christ, whatever tribe of ‘Israel’ we belong to, go from strength to strength, and may that which introduces poison into the body, wither and fade away.

Until last year I had never been to Keswick, thinking it was the kind of event that my parents would go to, but not something we would enjoy. Last year I went for the first time. It was wonderful – the venue was superb, the scenery magnificent, the organization brilliant, the fellowship stimulating, the Bible teaching out of, and yet for, this world, and (apart from accommodation and food) it was free! It challenged and changed my preconceptions and prejudices and made me glad that I belong to the biggest family on earth – the Family of God. Is that not what Christian conferences are all about?

You can get the original here –

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christian.conference.season.is.upon.us.heres.how.to.get.the.best.out.of.them/51974.htm

The Dark Horse – A Film about Chess and Mental Health and Maori Bikers…Superb!

Who would like a film about a chess player with mental health problems?  A chess player married to a senior mental health officer?   I guess that partly explains why yours truly loved this film.  But that would only be partly the reason.

The Dark Horse, is a New Zealand film, which tells the true story of Genesis Potini, a little known New Zealand hero and chess champion.   It tells of his struggle against his own mental illness and his attempts to help poor Maori teenagers through teaching them to play chess.   It is a powerful film, emotional whilst avoiding too many emotional cliches.  The scenes with the biker gang are powerful and painful.  Cliff Curtis is brilliant in the main role, and he is ably backed up by the rest of the cast.   There is much in this film to be thankful for, and much think about.   From a Christian perspective it demonstrates clearly that we live in a fallen and broken world, in which there is also great beauty.  The image of God in humanity remains.  Of course we know that our purpose and redemption is not in chess, great though that is, but rather in and through Christ.  Who is going to teach our broken teenagers about the healing that comes through Him?

If you are a chess player, a mental health worker, a worker with teenagers, a Maori or just a human being who is interested in humanity, then go see this film.  A must….

Happiness is….a bike ride from Dundee to St Andrews.

We have had a beautiful week here in Dundee and so on Friday I decided to cycle to St Andrews.  Along with a flask of coffee, Annie Dillard’s ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’ and my bible it made for a beautiful journey to visit our minister in St Andrews, Paul Clarke.  It reminded me of McCheyne’s visits out to see Andrew Bonar in Perthshire, when he rode on his horse ‘Tully’!

I thought I would share a wee flavour of the journey…and if you are ever in this beautiful part of the world perhaps you will get to experience it for yourself!

The lighthouse ship in Dundee Harbour

The lighthouse ship in Dundee Harbour

Setting out across the long Tay bridge...

Setting out across the long Tay bridge…

Tentsmuir Forest

Tentsmuir Forest

The old bothy in Tentsmuir - a good camping and stopping place

The old bothy in Tentsmuir – a good camping and stopping place

The Lighthouse at Tayport

The Lighthouse at Tayport

Guardbridge

Guardbridge

Tayport

Tayport

The Cathedral

The Cathedral

West Sands

West Sands

George Wishart's Martyrdom spot - now a parking place!

George Wishart’s Martyrdom spot – now a parking place!

The Golf Course

The Golf Course

Destination - the Manse

Destination – the Manse

Horses in Tentsmuir

Horses in Tentsmuir

Return Home across the Tay

Return Home across the Tay

You can see more like these at –

https://carousel.dropbox.com/photos/cc/v7AoV2iuBp79ca5

Mommy – A HopeLess Film

We take a risk with the DCA – usually the films are good, occasionally brilliant, and infrequently, bad.

Last week we went to see this film

It should have everything going for it.  Good actors, an interesting theme (how to cope with an extreme ADHD teenager) and a director ,Xavier Dolan, with a superb reputation. And it is French.  I hated it.  In fact its one of those few films that I wanted to get up and walk out of.  Why?  It was not so much the extreme use of bad language, which wasn’t so much offensive, as ugly and actually quite boring (even if it was in French).  It wasn’t the very predictable storyline, such as it was.  The cinematography was ok.  But my problem was simply this – the message was so profoundly depressing.  This was Sartre and Camus without the art, questions and humour!  In fact it made them look positively cheerful.  This is the kind of film that makes you think, if this is the human race, then I want out!   Any hope offered was shallow and empty.  Never mind existential angst, this was beyond.   So personally I would say don’t waste your time and money.  Read Sartre.  Read Camus.  And then read Pauls letters to the Colossians and Phillippians, and thank the Lord that in Christ, there really is hope.

Islamaphobia Phobia – Why Church, Media and Politicians are Afraid and Spineless

I am sitting in Costas (letting my nerves settle) after having done a live interview with BBC Radio Scotland on my article on ‘Islam, the Elephant in the Room”  and my initial reaction is one of profound sorrow.  Here is why…forgive me if it is a bit emotional.

1) I am fed up of the dumbed down nature and ignorance of British politics and life – I knew that immediately I would be accused of being a bigot, Islamaphobic and I was.  The interviewer accused me of being ‘divisive’ to which I simply pointed out that anyone who expresses an opinion of any kind can be accused of being divisive.    Here are some examples of the responses I have already received “Don’t know if it was your intention, but you came across as an intolerant, ignorant bigot in that interview.”  “You give Christians and bad name if your BBC Scotland interview is indicative of your sect’s attitude to Islam.”

2)  I am depressed about the ignorance and spinelessness of our politicians.  They are so scared of being accused of Islamaphobia and the nature of our public debate is so dumbed down, that I think it will be impossible to have an intelligent debate about this.  Like the man who tweeted the BBC ‘Bet UKIP will be pleased to hear that”.  Thats the way to shut down debate!   When approached by the press only two of the parties made any comment.   The SNP said my comments were “unfortunate and plain wrong”.  I issue here a simple challenge to the SNP – tell me where my comments are wrong and I will publicly retract them and apologise for them.  If you can’t then in effect you are confirming the view that people have about politicians and political parties….you are good at the soundbites but don’t really come up with reason and facts.   The Tories claimed that more people were worried about the economy than Islam.  Well, as that great philosopher/politician Bart Simpson says ‘duh’!  Of course.  That is the point.   The reason I raised the subject was because you are not raising it.  People are being killed all over the world in the name of Islam.  There are enormous problems of radicalisation in England’s cities. There are more British Muslims fighting for ISIS than are in the British army.  Every time we board a flight, go to a major public event, we are inconvenienced because of Islamic terrorism.  Our media cannot publish cartoons of Mohammed without facing death threats.  We have spent billions on fighting Islamic terrorism.  Are the Tories denying that this affects our economy?  There is a real pressure on freedom of religion in the UK – muslims who become Christians face severe persecution.   In the UK!   And you keep silent.  Actually you don’t.  You blame all religions because you buy into the narrative that they are all basically the same.    And so in order to keep Islamic extremists out of schools you propose to keep ordinary Christians out as well!

3) I am depressed because of Islamaphobia and the thinly veiled racism that lies behind it.  Because normal mainstream politicians are too scared to speak about this, the field has been left open for the far right racists.  In saying what I said above I am not saying that all Muslims are terrorists or support terrorism.  That would be foolish and completely wrong.  But I despair that the spinelessness of our politicians, the hatred of militant atheists for all religions (and therefore lumping Christianity together with Islam), and the ignorance of Islam being a political theology – means that Islamaphobia and the political power of Islam will feed off one another, and both will grow together.

4) I am depressed at the spinelessness of the Church – The Church of Scotland and the Catholic church issued wet politically correct statements which were implicitly critical of me and again identified me as some kind of bigot.   Ironically I have had more support from the Scottish Secular Society than I have from the Church!

To be honest I feel kind of alone.  And I am fed up taking the bullets.   Why should I be branded a bigot for speaking the truth?

So let me issue the following challenges:

1) To the SNP – Tell me where I am wrong and why what I said was unfortunate. If you want me to vote for you (as I have often done) I would appreciate an answer.

2) To the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems – Can you speak about this issue at all?  Or are you just going to enact anti-religious policies for all (in order to be ‘fair’) rather than deal with the elephant in the room.

3) To my Muslim brothers and sisters – Do you deny that Islam is a political as well as a religious ideology?  Do you want Islamic law to be enforced in a Muslim Britain?  Can you name one Islamic country where there is religious freedom – in particular the freedom to change your religion?  Will you allow Muslims in the UK to change their religion if they wish?

4) To the Church – Are you prophets and proclaimers of the Gospel of Christ or just compromisers with the spirit of this world?  Will you love, serve , welcome and help Muslims – most of all by living, loving and telling the Good News of Jesus.  Are you prepared to take time to engage, dialogue and pray with and for Muslims?  And can I plead with my fellow Christians – please don’t be Islamaphobic!  We have nothing to be phobic about!  And if you agree with my view of the threat of Islam please don’t give any credence to right (or left) wing political groups (like the EDL or BNP) who will seek to exploit your frustration.  They are evil and must be avoided like the plague.

5) To the Media and the ‘Gatekeepers’ of our Culture.  Are any of you prepared to have this discussion and dialogue?  Or are you just going to hand over the whole debate to the real bigots, by pretending the issue does not exist and labelling those of us who dare raise it, as bigots.

Will I hold my breath?  I’m off to prepare a sermon on Isaiah….amazing how relevant this prophet is to our current situation!

You can read the original article here – http://www.christiantoday.com/article/three.reasons.politicians.cant.cope.with.islam/51513.htm

And the interview and response on Premier here – http://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Islam-is-election-elephant-in-the-room-says-Church-leader

For BBC Radio Scotland interview – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05pbhyv

Here is the report in The Daily Express and The Press and Journal 

Free Church minister sounds alarm over rise of Islam
Daily Express 8 Apr 2015

“SPINELESS” politicians are ignoring the rise of Islam in the UK, according to a prominent church minister.

And the Reverend David Robertson, who will soon take over as Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, also says there is no such thing as “secular Islam”.

His comments come as debate rages throughout Britain as to how to tackle the issue of radical proponents of the religion without alienating minority communities.

But the minister stressed that although he opposes “racist, jingoistic Islamophobia, the fear of Islamophobia is blinding many of our politicians to the threat we face from Islam”.

Mr Robertson has accused politicians of leading the country down a “path of destruction away from the Christian foundations of our nation” by appeasing Muslims.

Writing on the Christian Today website, he said that politicians are either ignorant of the nature of Islam, or frightened of being labelled racist for speaking out about it. He said: “Christianity is the bedrock and foundation of our secular society. Islam is different. Islam has no doctrine of separation of the spiritual from the political. Islam is, and has always been, a political movement.

“There can be no such thing as secular Islam.

“The narrative is that Islam is the same as Christianity, that ISIS and others are just fundamentalists who are not really part of the ‘religion of peace’ and that Christians have their own ISIS equivalents. All untrue.

“However, the main point is that mainstream Islam does not and cannot fit in with the worldview and doctrines of our liberal secularists. And because our politicians do not see that, they cannot deal with it.”

 Mr Robertson warned that Britain is in danger of being outflanked by a growing Islamic population, who could wield great power within 20 years.

 Mr Robertson added: “It’s the organisation, social cohesion, wealth and internal discipline that brings the political power; if you want it. And Islam does. A survey released this week shows that in the UK as a whole Islam will be 11 per cent of the population within a couple of decades.

“Our secularists cannot cope with that.”

Mr Robertson, minister of Dundee St Peter’s Free Church and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, will become moderator of the Free Church next month.

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Scotland yesterday declined to comment.

Islam is ‘election elephant in room’

The Press and Journal 8 Apr 2015

A leading churchman has clashed with the SNP and Conservatives after he claimed addressing concerns over Islam was more important than dealing with the economy, independence and the NHS.

The Rev David Robertson, the next moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, claimed most politicians were either “blind or too cowardly” to tackle what he called the election elephant in the room.

He said the fear of being associated with racism meant that most politicians were reluctant to discuss the fact that Islamic political theology presented a real danger to freedom.

Aspokesmanfor theSNP said Mr Robertson’s comments were “unfortunate and plain wrong”.

The Tories claimed most people were more worried about the economy than Islam.

Mr Robertson, 52, leads St Peter’s Church in Dundee.

 

Janet Parshall Show – Miracles and the Resurrection

Here is the latest Janet Parshall show in which we discuss miracles and the resurrection.   I really enjoy talking with Janet on what has now become a monthly show (I have been doing it every month since March 2014!)….she is articulate, intelligent and biblical…..the only problem is the number of adverts – but you don’t have to listen to these on the podcast….

Enjoy –

http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=162602