Friday, November 19, 2010

Free Church votes to allow instruments and man-made hymns

Which makes it an extremely sad day for anyone who prizes the principles of the Scottish Reformation including the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. The vote was carried 98 to 14, defeating a report that proposed a compromise that was unconvincing and clearly not acceptable. As with many of these events in church history it is not the vociferous and determined minority that vote it through but those who do not want the change for themselves but want to keep the minority happy and think that they can and always will be able to harness the forces of change and conservatism. Those who approve of others who express views they personally never could are those who are responsible for the consequences of the change for they have given their support to it.

Take the example of Iain D Campbell who less than 18 months ago was clearly opposed to the change observing at the 2009 General Assembly that the regulative principle was being skewed in the report by a reference to the primacy of Scripture. He pointed out: 'This report affirms the primacy of Scripture. Primacy is something you start from. Scripture is a finality not a primacy'. He then said something important: 'We have taken serious vows regarding a particular position on worship. We’re now being asked to approve a process in this report that begs serious questions. We seem to be asked to reinvent the wheel. It seems to be predetermining the outcome. He did not think he could approve a report that would allow songs of human compositions and instruments.'

His intervention in the debate today was no doubt significant. 'The view I hold is that I want to remain in the same church as the previous two speakers [David Robertson and Kenneth Stewart]. I agree with Mr Stewart’s arguments. I have argued this before - always taken the view that the sufficiency of scripture means the sufficiency of the psalms. Now I need to ask which position safeguuards my position on worship. Alex’s! it safeguards my position insisting on singing psalms. BUT I need to ask what to do with my brethren who have come to another conclusion. What am I going to say to our young people - we’re educating them in the theology of the reformed faith but they drift away to other churches. I want to keep them! Alexs amendment in opening up honestly is a means to that end. We need to fill our pulpits and take more people - but we need to keep our people!' Principled expediency?

The motion carried and the quality of the arguments within the debate (here and here)are most concerning because very little was said of a scriptural character let alone logical consistency. The essence of the motion was that every one had their own 'equally conscientious and Biblically grounded but differing views on the subject' i.e. mere opinion and should be free to do what was right in their own eyes. Scripture wasn't clear on the matter and so it was a matter of conscience and subjective judgement. They had landed themselves in the same morass as John Frame, without a tenth of his rationalising attempts to dilute the regulative principle. Frame says “Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to prove that anything is divinely required specifically for official services” (Worship in Spirit and Truth, p.44).

The most telling contribution and stinging indictment of the whole debate was from Chris Redmond - Dowanvale.
'There is lack of scripture and confusion. I sing Jesus with my understanding when I sing the psalms Going to support the deliverance as lesser of two evils. We are accommodating two different views of scriptures but God is not divided. Are we Reformed? Not if we are subjective and interpret scripture subjectively. My vows speaks of current worship. The pragmatic arguments? We are too accommodating to people rather than the word'.

Previous posts that have discussed this controversy are here.