American Greatness

Liberalism may be failing, but at least the voluntary character of church life in the United States means that communions here do not need to worry the way those in Scotland do where the establishment principle is still in effect even for those outside the established church. David Robertson highlights the contrasting responses of Presbyterians — Church of Scotland vs. Free Church of Scotland — to the Scottish government’s proposal to allow Scots to self-identify their gender. Spoiler alert: the Free Church dissents, the Church of Scotland goes along.

But the arresting matter here is the degree to which a communion self-identifies with its nation:

Lets talk not about gender identity but the identity of the Church. It seems to be that the Church of Scotland is no longer self-identifying as a biblical, prophetic Christian church. It now self-identifies as the spiritual wing of the progressive state, affirming its every action and endorsing its liberal theology. State churches always run the danger of avoiding the prophetic, because they are tied in with the State, and therefore will find it difficult to tell the State the Word of God. If John the Baptist had been a Church of Scotland minister, he would have affirmed Herod in his sin, told him ‘he didn’t want to judge’ and offered to produce a booklet of stories of adulterers like him! I hope and pray that the faithful ministers who remain in the Kirk will not hand out this propaganda, but will challenge 121 and the bureaucracy that has collaborated in this document. Its time for faithful people to be faithful and to at least be prophets to their own denomination.

What about the Free Church (and other churches). We can moan from the sidelines – refuse to get involved – shout in anger or shrink in despair. Or we can be a biblical Christ loving church which does what we can to welcome and help transpeople who are seeking Christ. They need to know him and be saved from their sin – not their trans. And we must have a prophetic voice into the culture – whether its challenging schools when they seek to indoctrinate our children with Queer theory, or making representations to the Scottish Government. And of course we weep and pray….

God have mercy and save Scotland from itself.

At what point do you see the folly of ecclesiastical establishments? Nothing possibly could go wrong here (ever since Constantine).

6 thoughts on “American Greatness

  1. But aren’t “voluntary associations” a great American idea? An idea that come from “free-will” and liberal cowardice?

    ” Whether one would want to find himself in a dark alley with only Darryl Hart at his back is another question …one might find himself obliged to stand and fight and perhaps die so that Darryl could run away.”

    Machen—In the first place, a true Christian church, now as always, will be radically doctrinal… It will never say that doctrine is the expression of experience; it will never confuse the useful with the true, but will place truth at the basis of all its striving and all its life. Into the welter of changing human opinion, into the modern despair with regard to any knowledge of the meaning of life, it will come with a clear and imperious message. That message it will find in the Bible, which it will hold to contain not a record of man’s religious experience but a record of a revelation from God.

    “In the second place, a true Christian church will be radically intolerant. At that point, however, a word of explanation is in place. The intolerance of the church, in the sense in which I am speaking of it, does not involve any interference with liberty. O n the contrary, it means the preservation of liberty. One of the most important elements in civil and religious liberty is the right of voluntary association – the right of citizens to band themselves together for any lawful purpose whatever, whether that purpose does or does not commend itself to the generality of their fellow men. Now, a church is a voluntary association. No one is compelled to be a member of it; no one is compelled to be one of its accredited representatives. It is, therefore, no interference with liberty of a church to insist that those who do choose to be its accredited representatives shall not use the vantage ground of such a position to attack that for which the church exists. . .”

    “There are certain things which you cannot expect from such a true Christian church. In the first place, you cannot expect from such a church any cooperation with non-Christian religion or with a non-Christian program of ethical culture. There are those who tell us that the Bible ought to be put into the public schools, and that the public schools should seek to build character by showing the children that honesty is the best policy and that good Americans do not lie nor steal. With such programs a true Christian church will have nothing to do. ”

    Click to access 1967-01.pdf


  2. Canada took in potential good Presbyterian preachers from the UK during for decades but they shifted their talents to labour union leadership and politics, so it never really caught on up here.


  3. When some paedobaptists stop calling “anabaptists” and “gnostics” those who call for natural law and disestablishment and two kingdoms at once for every Christian, they still always have that other curse word—“masochism”

    Andrew Sandlin—- The historically alert reader may be scratching his head. Has any sector of the church (aside from Roman Catholicism) so stressed Christendom than Reformed Christianity? Wasn’t Calvin committed to a distinctly Christian Geneva? And did not Zwingli and Bucer and Bullinger and Knox affirm Christendom? They did. But Dr. VanDrunen isn’t happy with this.Christian culture is the visible exhibition of Christendom, but VanDrunen opposes Christian culture, or, rather, radically redefines Christian culture as the church. VanDrunen wants no distinctive Christianity outside the church.


  4. There are at present two kingdoms, but you can only be loyal to one kingdom. We do not yet live in the age to come, but Jesus is Lord already in this present age. The justified elect are already citizens of the kingdom which comes to earth from heaven. We don’t need two different kingdoms or two different laws. Non-Christians need law and gospel. Christians need law and gospel

    The law-gospel antithesis is about a difference between God’s commands and God’s promise for those who believe the the gospel of Christ as mediator of the new covenant. The false gospel of a future aspect of justification based on some new ability to obey Christ’s commands is no better than the antinomianism which ignores or lowers the commands of the Lord Jesus. Partial obedience to commands is antinomian if you think that obeying some laws takes care of disobeying other laws. None of this “obedience” is really acceptable to the Lord Jesus if done with intent to gain assurance or “the second aspect of justification.”

    Why do so many want to have as our standard “the moral law aspect” of one (or two) tables of the Ten Commandments? Do that is more “do-able” or “universal”? Many do not deny the Sermon on the Mount as “first use of the law” (to create the despair that drives sinners to the gospel) but they make every effort to teach us how the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to Christians “just as humans” or in any case in which we would be commanded to love enemies. They do not think that the Sermon on Mount “will restrain sin” in the way some other law might.

    Rick Phillips—-“May God send us many more snipers to defend us with courage and skill until Jesus finally comes and relieves of us the terrible burden of war.”

    Rick Philips—“it is a service to society for godly pastors to act on the state’s behalf in establishing godly marriages. Instead of pulling out of society, Christians should seek to be involved for the good of all,”

    John 18: “My kingdom is in this world but not from this world …. If My kingdom were from this world, My servants would fight, so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. My kingdom in this world does not come from this world.

    I Corinthians 15: 24 Then comes the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when Christ abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until God puts all His enemies under His feet

    Philippians 3:20 but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Colossians 1:13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. 1

    Colossians 2:15 Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly. God triumphed over the powers by Christ.

    John Howard Yoder, “Exodus and Exile”, Cross Currents 23:3, 1974, p 306—“The Exodus of the counter-community is a not a revolution by the righteous oppressed, but rather the message of the resident minority….Jesus further validated the already expressed Jewish reasons for not being in charge and not considering any local state structure to be the primary movement of history for which we have any responsibility.”


  5. @ Mark:

    Thanks, that fits with what you have said before. I was a little confused by those who call for natural law and disestablishment and two kingdoms at once for every Christian, thinking that you were numbering yourself among them. But I gather not.

    Liked by 1 person

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