A REPORT from Korea states that a cloned human embryo has been developed by scientists at a university hospital in Seoul, albeit the researchers halted the process at a very early stage by destroying the embryo. They claim that the clone was “conceived” without a father and was an identical copy, as to its DNA strands, of its mother, and that if it had been implanted in the mother it could have developed into a child.
Reports of impending human cloning projects have come from the USA from Johns Hopkins University, the University of California, and the University of Hawaii. In this country, the scientist responsible for Dolly, the cloned sheep, is reported to be negotiating with a USA firm for funding to begin a human embryo cloning project in Edinburgh within weeks.
Although cloning human embryos is illegal under the 1990 Human Embryology Act, government ethics advisers have recommended changes in the law to allow it for medical research, provided that the cloned embryos are destroyed within 14 days.
However, human cloning is abhorrent and unbiblical. As the Resolution on Cloning adopted by our 1997 Synod states, “It is within the context of marriage alone that procreation is to take place.” It is in the nature of this unnatural method of producing embryos that unwanted embryos are destroyed. In any case, if the Government were to accept the recommendations of their ethics advisers, all the embryos cloned would have to be destroyed within 14 days. The production and destruction of human embryo clones is utterly opposed to the principle of the sanctity of life set before us by God in His Word.
The ambitions of some scientists, especially in the field of genetic engineering, to reproduce human life artificially, shows the spirit of the builders in Babel. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name” (Gen. 11:4). As Calvin says, their ambition “to raise an eternal monument to themselves, which might endure throughout all ages, was proof of headstrong pride, joined with contempt of God.”
How not to draw people to church
THIS year again, the advertising campaign announced by the English organisation, Church’s Advertising Network, has provoked a storm of controversy. Their poster, meant to encourage people to go to church at Easter, shows what is intended as the head of Jesus but is modelled on the Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara.
A spokesman for the Church’s Advertising Network defended the poster on the grounds that “Jesus was a revolutionary figure, and more revolutionary than anyone else in the twentieth century.” He also claimed that Jesus “was crucified exactly because He was revolutionary”. One wonders if those who come out with this kind of politically-motivated rewriting of biblical history have ever read the last chapters of the Gospels, where it is recorded that Christ told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Who, except the wilfully blind, can come away from reading the Scriptures without the clear impression that Christ’s purpose in coming into the world was “to save sinners”? And, unless the Church will put this great fact at the centre of her message, she is signally failing to fulfil her mission.
The campaign gives the invitation, “Discover the real Jesus.” But what spiritual profit can anyone receive who might, as a result of these adverts, go to a church where the minister thinks like the campaign’s spokesman? Surely none whatever, unless from the reading of the Scriptures. Only in the Bible, and in preaching squarely based on it, can we expect sinners to discover the real Jesus.
In any case, we have no authority to set apart one Sabbath in the year (in this instance what they call “Easter Sunday”) to commemorate Christ’s resurrection; God has appointed every Sabbath to be a memorial of the resurrection.
To concentrate, as most critics seems to have done, on the particular way the Saviour is depicted is to miss the point. No representation whatever should be made of the Saviour. The traditional representation has no basis in fact; it is just the result of an artist’s imagination – albeit one who lived hundreds of years ago. No one knows what the Saviour’s physical appearance was while He was on earth, because this has not been revealed in Scripture for good reason. To produce a representation of Christ, even if it were accurate, would be to produce something quite unbalanced, for it would ignore His divinity. But the Second Commandment directs us plainly enough: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above . . .” God thereby, among other things, forbids all pictures of the Saviour.
What is required is a spiritual presentation of Christ as the Saviour of sinners, yet this is what is so sadly lacking in almost every part of the professing Christian Church today. The Church must focus on preaching a pure gospel, or it can never hope to make any impact on this increasingly secular age. But that itself is a forlorn hope while pulpits are filled with those who are not only unconverted, but do not even give outward respect to the authority of the Scriptures. How much this generation needs the Lord to send out true labourers into the harvest!
Free Church Special Commission Draft Proposals
DRAFT proposals which are intended as a basis for reconciliation in the Free Church have been unanimously agreed by the Special Commission which the Free Church appointed at its last Assembly. The press has reported on certain of these proposals but no one has commented, to our knowledge, on the one which refers to the doctrinal basis of the Church. This proposal ought to cause concern to everyone who wishes to uphold “the faith once delivered to the saints”.
The proposal states: “The General Assembly unashamedly reaffirm the commitment of the Free Church of Scotland to the Bible as its infallible rule for doctrine, worship, and practice,” – so far, so good – “and to the Reformed Theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith [italics ours], which it acknowledges as its subordinate standard. The General Assembly reject any theological position inconsistent with or contrary to the Word of God and the subordinate standards of the Church.”
The phrase, “the Reformed Theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith”, is a phrase which arguably drives a wedge between the Reformed Theology or Reformed Faith and the Confession. It seems to us to imply that there are parts of the Confession outwith the Reformed Theology, and gives leeway to an opponent of strict subscription to the Confession to redefine the Reformed Theology to his own taste. Those accused of doctrinal deviation could conceivably use the phrase as a basis on which to defend themselves in Church courts. We fully believe the whole doctrine contained in the Confession to be the truths of God – as is stated in the Formula subscribed by Probationers, Ministers and Elders at the time of their admission to office. There is no good reason why the Commission, in framing the proposal, should not have adhered to that historic statement.
The proposal reminds one somewhat of the infamous Declaratory Act of 1892, which used the statement: “such points in the Confession as do not enter into the substance of the Reformed Faith therein set forth”. “The substance of the Reformed Faith”, like the above phrase, “the Reformed Theology”, was not defined. It certainly divorced the Reformed Faith from the Confession, and gave scope to those who deviated from the Confession to use an aberrant definition of the Reformed Faith.
We feel that this part of the draft proposals can be taken as favouring liberals in the Free Church and, rather than being a basis for reconciliation, is more likely to increase strife. It looks as if the rift is likely to widen between the liberals and those in the Church who stand for the Confession of Faith simpliciter as being the confession of their faith.