Saturday, 16 March 2013

Gilcomston Church and Aberdeen Presbytery

An article in the Press & Journal about the relationship between Gilcomston Church (Gilcomston South congregation's new church name) has warmed the cockles of my heart. Aberdeen Presbytery, it was reported, is going to allow the congregation the ongoing use of the buildings for an "interim" period. I like to think that maybe some who took part in the debate at Presbytery read my blog, "St George's Tron Part 2", but in any case, three cheers for applied Christian Theology at last. If I have to eat my closing words there, I shall be delirious with delight. But it's early days yet.

Gilcomston, in leaving the Kirk, is in effect rejecting the Kirk, one might even say, shaking its dust from off her shoes, on account of the Kirk's current position on allowing practising gay people to be ministers of the Gospel. (The position is that there is a moratorium on any new appointments pending a report to this year's General Assembly, and allowing one minister who since ordination has "come out" to continue.) But here's the thing: the Kirk has not rejected Gilcomston, nor is it behaving in a punitive way towards her, using property issues as a means to express displeasure. I hope this may become a precedent for our treatment of those who disagree with the Kirk to the extent that they leave, even when they leave for reasons which are deeply hurtful to many. All our theological statements, our arguing, our positioning over the New Testament texts, it all pales into, well not exactly insignificance, but it certainly pales in comparison with the application of grace. And this is the sorrow and shame of Christians: when we wrangle over Biblical interpretation, insist on our own view, grace usually gets sidelined. The grace of God, expressed supremely through Jesus Christ, is what the church is called to display and live by. And by grace, we are forgiven for not doing it. 

2 comments:

Paul said...

"And by grace, we are forgiven for not doing it." Like it!

Discerning God's view on this issue is clearly a difficult thing for the Church. We understand God as having two, almost opposite natures. One nature is of a merciful, kind and loving Father. The other is of a holy and righteous judge. Which nature does God have towards this issue? Does he flip between the two? We as Christians of course, have to try to express His nature (we are His ambassadors) correctly towards the issues of the day.

What has helped me in achieving some kind of balance or perspective on this issue is a prophetic passage in Wendy Alec's "The Journal of the Unknown Prophet" entitled "To Those Bound in a Homosexual Lifestyle". I can't supply the text here for copyright reasons but the book is available from Amazon and, if you are interested, I can email you the text of this passage.

Drastic Plastic said...

This is intelligent thinking on the part of the Aberdeen presbyters; clearly a brighter lot than their colleagues in Glasgow. Church splits tend to blow over, given time, because the world doesn't stay still and the prime causes tend to go away. But the exception to this is where persecution is involved; where people have felt wronged, what they felt was their property taken from them, and institutional barriers erected against their return.

By using the idea of "temporary", the presbytery has ducked all the issues. The church no longer needs to feel compromised by the corruption of the CoS, and the pressure comes off everyone. I daresay the church would be happy to pay a reasonable rent.

Clever thinking by the presbyters.