The so-called “Voluntary” principle, or error, is that Established Churches are wrong and that the state should treat all churches, and perhaps even all religions, as equal. The Free Presbyterian Church holds the opposite position – that it is duty of rulers to recognise and support and “establish” the true religion in their land, both legally and financially. This duty is plainly expressed in Psalm 2:10-11: “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” It is in their capacity as rulers and judges that they are to serve Christ, and they do this by using their God-given authority to promote true Christianity and to discountenance all false religion.
The Voluntary doctrine was widely held in the old Free Church in the 1890s, and in opposing this, the “fathers” of the Free Presbyterian Church summarised the Voluntary error in this way: “A man may be a good Christian at home, but when he appears in society he must forget God, and ignore His cause” (History of the Free Presbyterian Church, p 412). A remarkably similar sentiment was recently voiced by the Scottish Secretary for Health and Social Security, Humza Yousaf, in his criticism of the religion of Kate Forbes (Mrs MacLennan), in their rivalry to become Scotland’s new First Minister. Mr Yousaf said that, although he was proud to be a Muslim, “what I don’t do is, I don’t use my faith as a basis of legislation”. Another Scottish politician, Ross Greer, who is a member of the Church of Scotland, commented in much the same way, “I think it is fine if you hold a personal faith; where it becomes relevant [that is, objectionable] in politics is if your faith is influencing how you vote”. But a religion that does not influence how one votes hardly counts as religion at all – its doctrinal content must be minimal and it can be little more than a mass of superstitious observances.
The quotation from the Free Presbyterian History continues: “It will be clearly seen that, when the Voluntary principle is carried to its logical issue, it leads not merely to the disestablishment of Churches, but to national forgetfulness of God; in a word, to national atheism”. This is exactly what has happened in Scotland. Practical atheism is now the de facto established “religion”, and the attempt is being made to debar Christianity completely from the public arena. The Church of Scotland is tolerated because – in the main – it is not Christianity at all. Ross Greer, for example, strenuously advocates most of the current abominations in Scotland, and would not be recognised as a Christian in any biblical church. Because Scotland was unthankful for the pure, Established Christianity that she did have, the Lord is allowing her to taste Established Atheism. Atheism is a religion of blood and filth, and has already slaughtered several hundred thousand children in Scotland in the last 50 years. The dangerous politicians are not those who vote according to Christian principles but those who do not vote according to these principles; and the harm that they do to people’s lives is immense.
Rev D W B Somerset
[Article from Free Presbyterian Magazine, April 2023.]