In The Evangelical Tradition?

It makes sense for the Church of Scotland to make a go of using its St George’s Tron building, especially over Christmas, given their recent legal actions.  Hence the announcement of a Presbytery Carol Service next Sunday afternoon in the building should come as no surprise. They even have the moderator of the General Assembly coming to preach.

However, what is interesting is how the news is being distributed. It is limited data, I know, but I found that the Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral (Scottish Episcopal), Kelvin Holdsworth, has also blogged the notice of the service. The Scottish Episcopal Church is extremely liberal, as is Mr Holdsworth and his Cathedral ministry team.

The notice looks like a direct quotation of a notice from Very Rev Bill Hewitt, the presbytery-appointed Clerk of the St George’s Tron Session. It is interesting that

  • the Clerk is asking for support for (which means attendance at) this meeting
  • he is encouraging as wide a dissemination of the notice as is possible
  • the ultimate goal of the event seems to be “to show that the living church has not left the building”

Apart from the make-believe that there is a “living church” in Buchanan Street, what is clear is that this is an event for show, and needs a big congregation to make a point for people to see. Hence, dissemination across all liberal churches, including the extremely liberal Scottish Episcopals to generate an attendance.

Much has been made by the Presbytery of its desire to establish a ministry in the evangelical tradition in the centre of Glasgow.  But this event and its publicity grates. I have learned that when you are seeking to establish a genuine gospel ministry and invite people to come, then you need to start as you mean to continue. There must be no deceit, no bait-and-switch.

So what is going on? Is this establishing a ministry “in the evangelical tradition”, or something else hiding behind a form of words?

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In The Evangelical Tradition?

4 thoughts on “In The Evangelical Tradition?

  1. James Miller says:

    Hi Stephen. I can’t help feeling that the Church of Scotland is damned if they do and damned if they don’t here. The split has happened. We have to live with the reality of that. I don’t see any reason why evangelicals outside the Kirk and supportive of the former Tron should now denigrate or disparage any further work done by the Church of Scotland in the building, any more than the Kirk should denigrate the new Tron’s work.

    No doubt if the church building had lain empty over Christmas the critics would have rounded on the Presbytery for that instead?

    We’re getting into dangerous waters if we end up in a four legs good, two legs bad mentality. I basically support the Presbytery’s actions. No doubt for some that means I’m not really an evangelical. And so the narrative of “no evangelical supports the Presbytery’s line” can be maintained by simply excluding anyone who dissents from the party line.

    I’ve read several pieces that say something along the lines of “no self respecting evangelical minister would serve in the C of S Tron now.” So anyone who does is by definition either not self respecting or not evangelical. This kind of stuff makes me sick. The interim moderator at the Tron is Stuart Smith – and he is definitely an evangelical minister! Check out his church website – he’s at Partick Trinity in Glasgow.

    Interestingly, one person who said something along those lines was the minister of an episcopal church in Glasgow. I wonder what he’d make of your blanket statement about the liberalism of the Episcopal Church in Scotland?

  2. James, thanks for your comment. I am not offering a blanket denigration of the work of the Church of Scotland. I am questioning the motive and the methods now being employed by the Session and Presbytery and asking whether what I see is consistent with establishing a ministry “in the evangelical tradition” in the city centre.

    To be honest, I don’t believe the Presbytery or the CofS is interested in “the evangelical tradition”. I don’t think it really knows what that is or what is really at the heart of it. It is more interested in generating “support” and making public displays. It is a political animal, not a spiritual one, on the whole.

    I was not speaking about individuals who identify themselves as evangelical (though I am genuinely baffled at the actions of evangelicals on the other side!). Schism always has good men on both sides. Actually, what would be truly remarkable would be if a genuinely evangelical minister were to accept a call and a work were to arise. For then there would be another gospel proclaiming ministry in Glasgow. However, he would need to be a strong man. There are few of those around.

    I guess in your final paragraph you are referring to the minister of St Silas who wrote to the Herald. But you know very well that one good man does not mean we cannot comment on the whole. Just because I can get one good nibble out of a rotting apple does not make it a good apple. The state of the Scottish Episcopal Church is well known around the world.

  3. How wonderful to know that the good things that God is doing in the Scottish Episcopal Church are widely known.

    You might want to correct something you’ve written above. What you’ve written might seem to be implying that Bill Hewitt has been in touch with me and others in the Scottish Episcopal Church to promote this service. He certainly hasn’t been in touch with me and I’m not aware of him being in touch with anyone else in my church.

    With regards to the breadth of the Scottish Episcopal Church, I’m pleased to say that it includes people of different theological opinions.

    I presume heaven does too.

    All good wishes for Christmas!

  4. Hi Kelvin, thanks for you comment.

    You seem to be inferring a great deal sometimes attributing it to my implications!

    Firstly, God doesn’t do sin, so equating what God is doing with what the SEC is doing is a dangerous route.

    Secondly, my implication is not that Bill Hewitt got directly in contact with you but rather that through some sympathetic route or other you have got hold of the notice and are now publicising the event. It would be an irony indeed (at best) if a Presbytery Carol Service were “supported” by an organisation such as yours that affirms gay people in its ministry team when the Presbytery’s publicly stated aim is to establish a ministry in the evangelical tradition in the city centre.

    Finally, in heaven, and hell, all will be clear and there will be no doubt as to the truth, and all our errors will be corrected, thankfully.

    Best wishes to you too.

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