Interfaith prayers in the Scottish Parliament
IT has been reported that following a recent debate on prayers in the Scottish Parliament, the Parliament approved a proposal that there should be interfaith prayers on a daily basis in the Parliament. The issue is now being considered further by the Parliamentary Bureau and will return to the Parliamentary Chamber for further debate in the Autumn.
The Religion and Morals Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has written to the the First Minister, Donald Dewar, expressing its grave misgivings regarding the possible outcome of further discussion.
“It is our fear,” says the Religion and Morals Committee, “that the whole aim of this discussion is to depart from the established practice of the United Kingdom Parliament which opens its proceedings with exclusively Christian prayer. The Constitution of the United Kingdom is Protestant and Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, with the Queen, who has vowed to maintain the Protestant nature of the throne, as our Sovereign.
“When the Union of 1707 took place, the Scottish Church secured that their Protestantism and Presbyterianism would not be in any way endangered by the Union. It is this Parliaments duty to ensure that the present state of the Union does not go down a road that will conflict with that provision. It would be an unlawful betrayal of that provision if the Scottish Parliament does not reflect Reformed and Biblical Christianity.
“The proposal to begin each days business with multi-faith prayer would be an outright rejection of the teaching of the Word of God that there is one God and one Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5); and further that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 3:10,11). For the Scottish Parliament to fail to acknowledge the binding obligation implicit in the words of Scripture just quoted words which are applicable to governments as well as to individuals would, we fear, expose our nation to the righteous judgement of God. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12). For the Parliament to introduce multi-faith prayer would be tantamount to questioning the exclusive right of the Lord Jesus Christ to its homage in an act of worship.
“We believe that there are many loyal Scottish people who are deeply grieved and shocked that one of the first decisions made by the newly formed Parliament of this land of John Knox and the Covenanters should be a decision which dishonours the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of nations.
“We would respectfully emphasise that this approach is not motivated by a bigoted nationalism or an intolerant spirit towards other races but by a deep desire for the preservation of all that is precious, and morally and spiritually binding in our Protestant Constitution. It is our earnest prayer that the Scottish Parliament will, without hesitation, acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).” – R. McL.
Approaching MSPs about prayer in the Scottish Parliament
IT is hoped that private individuals will also write to their MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament). Under the new electoral system, each person has eight MSPs one constituency MSP and seven additional members representing the region in which one lives. We agree with the advice given by the organisation, Christian Action Research and Education for Scotland (CARE), that we should write to all our MSPS. The address to which one should write is:
The Scottish Parliament,
Telephone No. 0141 332 8500
In writing them we ought to point out, among other things, that the national religion of Scotland continues to be both Protestant and Presbyterian, and that the Scottish Parliament is duty bound to reflect this fact in its daily act of worship. Also, praying to other gods, being idolatrous, is a serious breach of the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” and is offensive to God. An interfaith act of worship will be a statement by the Scottish Parliament, and therefore by the Scottish nation, that Christianity is equivalent to other religions a solemn and dangerous thing to do. The exclusive nature of true Christianity is shown by the fact that Christ alone is the Saviour of men, and that He is pre-eminent in all things.
The foundation for Anglican belief
WHEN do churches go astray? Clearly, according to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, when they “are not governed with the Spirit and Word of God”. And, however low the Church of England has come over the centuries during which these Articles have been in force, never until this century would an Archbishop of Canterbury have disclaimed the final, unique authority of Scripture. Now we find Archbishop Carey, once an enthusiastic Evangelical himself, proclaiming, “We have rejected a narrow biblicism”, which he also describes as “biblical literalism”. What he is rejecting is presumably the attitude of those who are still Evangelicals and continue to take their Evangelicalism seriously that the Bible, being inspired by God, is true and authoritative in all its statements.
Addressing an Episcopal conference in the USA, the Archbishop pointed to the change which has taken place since the mid-nineteenth century, when the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer represented the core of Anglican belief, both taking for granted the supreme, total authority of Scripture. More recently, however, the foundation of the Church is described as “biblical, creedal, sacramental and episcopalian”. The Archbishop indicated his belief that “these terms give an ecumenical form to our ecclesiology, not definitive but attractively open”. In other words, one assumes, he is claiming that by moving away from a distinctively scriptural basis for its doctrines, the Church of England is free to travel as far as she wills in the direction of other, even less scriptural bodies, notably the Church of Rome, and free also to tolerate within her borders any and every shade of belief and unbelief.
Dr Carey pointed also to “a growing focus on Scripture, tradition and reason as a characteristically Anglican way of doing theology”. His reference to tradition and reason, as well as Scripture, is an unashamed admission that he believes that the Bible is insufficient as a revelation of what we sinners need to know in the whole sphere of religion. It must therefore, according to the Archbishop, be supplemented by human tradition presumably brought to us through Roman Catholic channels. It is also an admission that the Bible is not reliable as a revelation from God, and must therefore be brought under the scrutiny of mans fallible and fallen mental powers. One can find no better human language to declare the true position than the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith: “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, mans salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” (1:6).
In the light of the above, it should occasion no surprise that Archbishop Carey was taking part in interfaith worship last March at a UN Thanksgiving World Assembly. Nor need it occasion surprise to hear that he has commissioned a Jesuit to write his Lent Book for the year 2000. The books title is Following the Way and, we are told, it “focuses on Jesus and the parables He used for teaching His disciples”. The Archbishop has clearly yet to learn that the Jesuit way is not the way of Jesus. But if we are to know and follow the way of Jesus, we must acknowledge the supreme, unique authority of Scripture as Gods inerrant revelation for all time.
What the Church of England needs is to submit to be “governed with the Spirit and Word of God”. But what hope can there be for a recovery of worthwhile religion within her bounds while her leaders explicitly reject the authority of the revelation of the Master they profess to serve? K. D. M.
The lying signs and wonders of gold fillings
“A SPRINKLING of gold dust appearing on the face, hands and teeth of worshippers is the latest bizarre trend to hit Britains charismatic evangelical churches,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Gold miracles have been reported by evangelical congregations in Britain and the Pioneer network of churches said yesterday [7th June] that 50 members were affected on Tuesday.”
One of the Pioneer organisation staff claims to have received a gold covering on one of his teeth, and others claim to have received gold fillings. The leader of the Pioneer network, pentecostal preacher Gerald Coates, claimed that the gold dust was a “sign from God” a divine miracle.
The fact that these bizarre happenings began in the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, the Charismatic group in which the so-called Toronto Blessing originated, indicates their nature. Here we have yet another example of the signs and lying wonders that we read of in 2 Thessalonians 2:9.
On the other hand, the signs and wonders of the days of the Apostles were for that time and for certain purposes. As Rev. K. Watkins has stated in conference paper, The Charismatic Movement The Gifts have Ceased, “The first purpose of the special charismatic gifts was to mark the most important transition between the closing of the Old Testament dispensation and the opening of the New. . . . The second purpose of the charismatic gifts was one of authentication, to ratify the apostles of the New Testament as the authentic messengers of the Lord. . . . The third purpose of several of the charismatic gifts was one of revelation, to supplement the canon of Scripture that was at that time incomplete. Not all the charismata were revelatory but some were. . . . . The fourth purpose of the charismata was to give notice of the impending major addition to the canon of the written, inscripturated Word of God. Not only were the gifts an interim measure to supplement the incomplete canon of Scripture, they were a signal that such incompleteness was soon to be remedied by additions to the written Word itself.”
These “signs of the Apostles” served the purpose for which they were given, and therefore were not to continue after the demise of the Apostles. We are bound therefore to view as imposters those who claim to still receive them.” The Evangelical Times rightly comments, “In common with all the happenings associated with so-called Toronto Blessing the gold teeth miracles have neither biblical warrant nor spiritual purpose. They do not add to our knowledge of God nor give increased authority to Christ and his gospel. To call for acceptance of such miracles, or even for open-mindedness concerning them, is a contradiction of what it means to be evangelical.”
Steps to stop the decline in the Methodist Church
Methodism is experiencing a steep decline in membership, having lost 27,000 members during the last three years. This is not surprising considering how liberal the Church is and how far away it has gone from the Word of God. One of the more recent innovations was the inclusion in their Methodist Worship Book of a prayer which blasphemously addresses God as “Mother”. They also decided to remove what they call “the prayer for humble access” because it placed too much emphasis on sin and was “too grovelly”. The publican who prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” would certainly be most unwelcome in the Methodist Church.
The Church is now planning to introduce modern methods of evangelism, and easier rules for joining the Church, in the hope of gathering people. It is the old story of compromising with the world to attract the world. In fact, the situation is worse than that. The Church proposes, says one report, that members need no longer be Christians, and that belief in God is now an optional extra for its members. Certain critics of these measures see them as the point “at which Methodists cease to be a church and become a social society”. Indeed, as a Church, is it not to be classed with those churches of which the Westminster Confession of Faith says, “. . .some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan” (25:5)?