The Free Presbyterian Church’s Outer Isles Presbytery has issued a statement condemning false evangelism, urging parents not to send their children to the Challenger Bus when it next visits the islands for evangelistic purposes. The Presbytery views the theology and worship of the Perth based charismatic organisation as “highly dangerous to the souls of the young.”
The statement, which is to be read in all the congregations of the Western Isles in coming weeks, identifies widespread spiritual declension and lax attitudes to Church membership in island Churches. Information regarding the activities of the charismatic Church group was provided in a report to the Presbytery at its meeting on 5th March. Run by People with a Mission Ministries (PWAMM), who have links to the Faith Mission Pilgrims of the 1950s, Challenger Bus organisers claimed significant success among children and teenagers in Lewis last summer. The Challenger Bus is sponsored by several island churches including some local Free Churches.
Among the activities which the Presbytery report deplored was the use of DVD presentations by Charismatic American evangelist Louie Giglio. The Presbytery has identified his teachings and methods as erroneous and dangerous and warns against attendance at meetings where such material is used.
In a wide-ranging look at the state of religion in the islands, the Presbytery expresses grief over the lack of spiritual revival in the congregations and
“… while fully desiring to encourage Biblical evangelism among young people and all others, takes the view that such flawed teachings and methods dishonour the Holy Spirit, in having a tendency to counterfeit His blessed work in regeneration”
The Free Presbyterian Church is widely recognised to have a stricter view of admission to full membership than other Churches. In a direct challenge to Christian denominations, the statement deplores “how Biblical separation from many worldly practices has come to be so little enforced by Kirk Sessions, thus weakening the testimony of the Church before the eyes of the world ‘that lieth in wickedness’.”
The statement laments the weakness of true religion in the Islands compared with former times. Alluding to the care taken in admission to the Lord’s Supper in the Highlands, the Presbytery speaks of “…its concern at the increasingly lax manner in which the privilege of communicant membership is extended in Presbyterian churches within these islands.”
Rev Allan MacColl and Rev David Campbell, who authored the statement appealed to professing Christians not to yield to modernist trends and warn,
“worldly living clothed in a profession of faith in Christ is as sure a route to everlasting destruction as open ungodliness if persisted in.”
In what was once the standard position of all island Churches, the statement contests that “the use of public transport on the Sabbath Day by professing Christians ought to be a matter for Church discipline, as should their participation in the activities of dance-halls and public houses and attending professional sporting events.” Ferry operators Caledonian MacBrayne recently commenced further sailings to Lewis and Harris on the Lord’s Day against the vehement protest of some Churches and large-scale petitions from island communities.
The pastoral statement to Free Presbyterians concludes, “the Presbytery, painfully conscious of the lowness of vital religion within our own congregations, seeks in a spirit of brotherly charity and humility to exhort all sincere believers in Jesus Christ throughout these islands to steadfast adherence to the Gospel of His grace and to the old paths of Biblical holiness in heart and life.”
Retired minister, Rev Angus Smith, called for the Presbytery to renew this call which had been required 50 years ago in similar circumstances.