PENDING the separate publication of the Proceedings of the Annual Synod of the Church, we give the following items of news.
When the Synod met in Glasgow on 23rd May, the retiring Moderator, the Rev. George Hutton, preached from Isaiah 62:10. (See page 196). The new Moderator is the Rev. Kenneth D. Macleod, Leverburgh, Isle of Harris.
Two congregations, a congregation in Richmond, Texas, and the Covenant Grace Church in Singapore, were added to the Church when their petitions to be received were granted by the Synod.
The Synod required that the two ministers, the Rev. James Clark, M.A. and the Rev. Allan MacDonald, M.A., who were received on trial for a year by the last Synod, remain on trial for another year. Mr MacDonald accepted the decision but Mr Clark declined. The Rev. Hamish Ian MacKinnon was re-admitted as a minister of the Church.
Three important resolutions were passed by the Synod and sent to various Government bodies. The resolution on the Protestant Succession to the Throne stated that the Synod “notes with concern the agitation, particularly in the Scottish Parliament, to remove the safeguards to the Protestant character of the Throne. The Synod believes that there are solid historical, constitutional and religious reasons for maintaining the current legislation prohibiting any marriage inconsistent with the primary aim of securing the Protestant succession to the Throne.” The Resolution continues:
The removal of the monarch’s personal and official commitment to the maintenance of the Protestant Religion would be a most significant indication of the nation’s resiling from the concept of an Established Protestant Religion, Romanism being theologically and practically incompatible with Protestantism.
The Estates of the Kingdom of Scotland prior to the Union of 1707 regarded laws which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne as essential for the effectual and unalterable preservation of the established religion in both Scotland and England and for the preservation of the Protestant character of these nations, and made this a condition of proceeding with the Treaty of Union and ‘a fundamental and essential condition of the said treaty or union in all time coming’.
The Synod maintains that as there were good historical reasons for excluding a Romanist from the Throne, and as there are good constitutional reasons for regarding reversal of this position as a fundamental betrayal of the national identity, so there are good reasons in the nature and history of Romanism for maintaining the status quo. This is a recognition not only of the fact that Romanism is incompatible with Protestantism but also of the fact that Romanism as a system claims precedence and authority over all Christian Churches and religious faiths and over all civil governments. The Pope is not only head of a totalitarian and autocratic religious organisation but is also head of anindependent State and claims to have priority over all the monarchs and governments of the world. The Vatican has never hesitated to take all possible measures to control the destiny of nations in a way that accords with its ambition for its own advancement. No person who belongs to a religion which acknowledges a supreme human authority over the nation beyond the authority of the monarch in Parliament can claim the allegiance of loyal citizens of the United Kingdom.
The Synod calls upon our legislators to resist pressure to alter those constitutional arrangements which have been fundamental to the spiritual and temporal well-being of Scotland and the United Kingdom over the past three centuries. Otherwise the nation will have broken faith with those who established the nation in its present form and will have broken faith with God who has preserved and blessed it throughout these centuries.
The Synod’s resolution regarding prayer in the Scottish Parliament expressed its concern about the decision of the Scottish Parliament that instead of Prayer in Parliament conforming to the Reformed Protestant Faith of the nation there should be a time for reflection contributed to on a multi-faith basis. The resolution also stated:
It is the view of the Synod that a time for prayer should not provide a platform for religious persons or bodies to address Parliament but be an occasion for Parliament to address God and to seek His blessing. “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice” (Proverbs 8: 14, 15).
The Synod deeply regrets the dishonour done to God by the representatives of the Scottish Nation in their rejection of the first and most basic of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20: 3), and in their rejection of the unique claim of Christ as Mediator: “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14: 6).
The Synod draws attention to the fact that the heritage and present constitutional position of Scotland is not only Christian in a vague sense but Protestant and Reformed and therefore Biblical. When the union of the Parliaments took place the position of the Reformed Faith as the constitutionally established faith of Scotland was secured and the crown in Parliament is committed to uphold it.
The Synod maintains that the civil rights of those belonging to other religions are safeguarded under the law and that the conducting of prayer in and on behalf of the Scottish Parliament should be viewed not as a matter of the democratic representation of various groups in society but as the Parliament of a Christian nation, committed historically and constitutionally to the Protestant and Reformed Faith, addressing God and seeking His favour upon national affairs. However much that Faith may be caricatured it lies at the foundation of the rights and privileges which the citizens of Scotland enjoy today.
The Synod calls upon the Members of the Scottish Parliament to lay to heart the solemn word of God, “Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2: 30), and to take steps as soon as possible to reverse their decision.
With regard to the proposed repeal of Section 28 by the Scottish Executive, representations have been made already to the Executive and various MSPs by the Synod, Presbyteries, the Religion and Morals Committee, Kirk-Sessions and individual members. However, the Synod decided to reason with the Scottish Executive again, this time directing its attention to the Word of God as the supreme standard for governments as well as individuals. The Resolution states:
The Synod . . . expresses its grave concern about the intention of both the Government and the Scottish Executive to abolish Section 2A of the Local Government Act 1986, more commonly known as Section or Clause 28, which prevents local authorities from promoting homosexuality, or promoting the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptance of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.
We deplore the fact that the Government and the Scottish Executive, in coming to a decision about Clause 28, is ignoring the Bible, which is the ultimate basis for all decisions of a moral and spiritual kind, whether personal or collective. If the Government heeded the Word of God it would have no difficulty in retaining Clause 28 and discouraging sexual immorality.
We have no hesitation in predicting that a government which ignores the Scriptures and depends instead upon human wisdom, will lead our nation deeper into the morass of moral and spiritual degeneration which presently prevails. Such conduct by a government will not only prove to be extremely detrimental to our nation, but will also bring the displeasure of God upon us.
Therefore we plead with the Government and the Scottish Executive to take the Word of God as its standard and to retain a law which prevents conduct which is contrary to that holy Word. “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
The Synod was addressed on Thursday evening by Mr van Vliet, Secretary of Mbuma Zending, the Dutch society which has for so long liberally supported our mission work in Africa. Mr van Vliet, who was accompanied by Mr A. B. den Breejen, the Treasurer, spoke warmly and encouragingly of the work of the gospel in Africa, and conveyed the cordial greetings and prayerful good wishes of Mbuma Zending to the Synod.
Wednesday, 13th December, 2000, was appointed to be kept as a day of humiliation and prayer throughout the Church.
The Synod noted with sadness the deaths of two of its former members since its last meeting: Mr Alexander Gillies, elder, Dingwall, and Mr Kenneth Gillies, elder, Raasay, both formerly of Glasgow. Tributes to both of them were read and recorded.