The rift within the Church of Scotland appears to have widened, with some Evangelicals within the Church warning of a potential split if the General Assembly approves the induction of the openly homosexual Rev Scott Rennie to an Aberdeen congregation on May 23.
One parish minister, the Rev David Randall of Macduff, warned in a BBC interview that “many people will have nothing more to do with the Church of Scotland” if the appointment of Rennie is approved. An online petition against the move at:
http://www.confessingchurch.org.uk had already attracted almost 11,000 signatures at time of writing, including 393 Church of Scotland ministers, amounting to over a fifth of the whole clergy of the National Church.
Rev Ian Watson, of Kirkmuirhill Church in Lanark, has spoken out forcefully against the proposal, and has aroused controversy with a sermon on the subject. Mr Watson reportedly told his congregation that “to claim that the homosexual lifestyle is worthy of a child of God; to demand that a same-sex partnership be recognised as on a footing with marriage; to commend such a lifestyle to others is to deny that Jesus Christ is our only Sovereign and Lord. It is to turn the grace of God into a licence for immorality.” He also reportedly added that “such people will not inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor.6:10). And therefore they must be resisted . . . Let me assure you, neither I nor like-minded ministers enjoy conflict . . . But have we learned nothing from history? Remember Hitler and the retaking of the Rhineland. He got away with it. No one stopped him. So next it was Austria, then Czechoslovakia, and then Poland and only then world war.” It is good to see such a bold message in print in national newspapers.
The Queen’s minister in Scotland, Rev Kenneth MacKenzie of Crathie Kirk near Balmoral, has now entered the debate, insisting that although Scott Rennie is a friend of 25 years standing, his appointment to Queen’s Cross would lead to an “apocalyptic” split in the Church. He commented that a decision to oppose the move would certainly make Rennie’s present position difficult, and would anger liberals, but added that a decision in favour of allowing the induction of an active homosexual would be a very “hollow victory.” In that situation, “life in the church will never be the same again and my fear is that a sizeable minority of the clergy, and perhaps a majority of its people, may consider leaving the church, causing a rift felt in every parish.” He concluded that “though wanting the very best for Scott [I] will not support any proposal that the Church of Scotland should amend or dispose of its age-old standards when it comes to affirming marriage, or appointing parish ministers.”