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Plenary Assembly Friday Live

November 19, 2010

Alex MacDonald’s Amendment - continued.

Seconder: Rev. Neil MacMillan.
Our warrant for singing the name of Jesus is found in Philippians 2.
We are witnessing about the Gospel in Scotland a story which is not complete. Next chapter has to be written. Need to move forward in unity to make Christ known - so that the lost are brought in. This is great task.
Alex highlighted that the report should have backed one form of worship or should have said that the biblical evidence is weak, hence we should have liberty.

This is where voice of Church is heard - not is an inexact sounding of session opinion.

There are few of us who believe it is sinful to sing hymns and use MIs. The fact that the deliverance wants to take away Act 1910 confirms this.
If worship in other churches is acceptable to God, how can it be unacceptable in our church? Board says we can permit this or forbid it.

Many of us love to quote from hymns. I can speak a hymn, but if I ask you to sing it, it is unacceptable.

Report does not provide logical basis for unity. Ambiguity.
Mr Iain K. implied psalms plus.
Rev. J. Maciver implied psalms only.

This ambiguity will make thing worse. There will be churches, which by limiting acts of public worship, will bring about change, but uncontrolled. The deliverance will undermine out discipline, worship and unity.

Vows: some of us felt we can vow to practice, which can change. Others feel they can’t change. The amendment does not forbid you to maintain your vows.

If you intend to vote for the deliverance for any other reason than scriptural conviction, you have no right to bind me and refuse me the right to worship in a way in which I believe is scriptural.

Instruments: are not typical or symbolic. It is a musical instrument! We are directed in the psalms to USE them as an accompaniment to what we are singing. They are used at time of temple, after temple and in Heaven. It is not aberogated in NT.

We love the FC and its theology. Nobody is seeking doctrinal change. We want to be in the FC. We must do what God wants. God wants unity, gospel mission, the heartfelt conscientious praise of his people. How can we stay together and write the next chapter of our gospel history?


Donald Jack - Amendment
The problem here is 1932 to be read out at inductions. What I’m trying to do is give an opportunity to everyone on both sides. The GA recognises there is lack of clarity, so I want to make clear what public worship is : call to worship and benediction. This allows both opinions to live with the legislation. This leaves the question open for anyone to conduct service in another church.

My difficulty is : what hymns are we going to have?
Onward Christian soldiers has the line: “we are not divided” ! ( - Laughter)
Amazing Grace says: “how precious did that grace appear - the hour I first believed.” This is subjective - can everyone say that?

The amendment opens the way for those who hold both positions. But we hold the tenet that we are a psalm-singing church. I’m trying not to introduce innovations, but ONLY in public worship.

(He then tried to quote from Lady Paton, but was forbidden to do so because not relevant.)

1) Would he not welcome folks who would come if there was music and hymns? This is first time that I’ve been told that our worship is not acceptable.
2) Question about the wording of his amendment.
3) Are you aware that there is a problem with folks who do not stay with the FC because of worship? Yes. There are also those who come and like the psalms.
4) Are the psalms not subjective? Yes.


Amendment - Dr Fergus Macdonald
Wants to make some technical changes regarding numbers - wants to retain Para 8 in deliverance.

We acknowledge that we face impt challenging situation.
Some of the best minds have considered this.
Some think that the NT sang hymns, while others are opposite. Why is it that having studied this, we have not come to consensus?
Answer: NT is ambiguous - requires to be interpreted. This is not saying worship is unimportant.
Differing conclusion indicate that the Lord has given us a meausre of flexibility in worship.
I am not suggesing that we can worship any way we want. Reg princ is valid. But within the basic para, enster there is a basic degree of diversity. We should do this by following the apostolic model in dealing with difference. Meat offered to idols. Today, diet is not an issue and it’s easy for us to dismiss passages like these as irrelevant. But this was big issue and was undoubtedly an issue relevant, not least because the food was to do with worship. Meat rendered folks unfit to worship. These pauline passages are relevant to worship. Food disputes are conflicts of conscience.

Paul’s solution was to bear with one another - and the strong give way to the weak. This amendment does that. It is the middle way.

He then argued for the use of musical instruments from the silence of the NT.

1) Do you agree that Alex’s proposal - a blend of psalms and hymns - would create the blend where everyone would see that their conscience was being considered?
2) Item 6 -  does that exclude hymns? Yes
3) Is he saying that only authorised material should be sung? Not necessarily.
4) How does Paul’s theology of the weaker brother apply to this issue - but this is not an issue over strength? I can’t decide who’s strong/weak.
5) Is it not strange that for 8 centuries the Church did not use instruments and there is silence? The NT is silent on many aspects, including praise. Mandate has not been withdrawn.
6) Why is there not any accompanying report giving biblical evidence? There is no report on either side.
7) Is not use of instruments in category of weak and beggarly elements? No.
8) Why are you not allowing doctrinal song? To allow for give and take.

Gordon Matheson - seconder.

1) We are disunited - on this issue. Luke 11: a kingdom divided etc…we don’t need to look far to see a kingdom laid to waste. I urge that we find a way forward. There is an opportunity for compromise.
2) We are diverse, eg. : in application of baptism, in some baptising infants of believers and others have wider interpretation. We allow for diversity. EG version of scripture. So we should allow for diversity in instruments.
3) We are dilligent shepherds - of a denomination - if we get this wrong today, we run risk of irrational decisions.

Bible evidence for instruments: I Chronicles 16, David appoints priests AND musicians to accompany the praise.
Silence of history? It is for 8 centuries. But before Luther, Church was silent on justification by faith.
We allow for flexibility on frequency of communion. We should, hence, allow for the use of instruments.

This is compromise. Like Acts 15 and Romans. This is a sensitive way forward.


Rev. William Mackay: some personal thoughts. The timing of this is inappropriate. Sing Psalms has only just come out and it seems odd that we should open up this
also so soon after the split of 2000 and court case - this is also inappropriate. The FC case is that the doctrine and worship has not changed. This is difficult to maintain if we change. This discussion should not continue until constitutional case has been cleared up. My vows are same today as they were when taken. Hector Cameron set out points clearly. These views represent views which came from leaders of reformation - scripture alone the basis of worship. Calvin and Psalms. Church of Scotland followed same approach. Book of Discipline. (Expands on Knox etc…) In Westminister directory for worship, it is the “singing of psalms.” Assuming they were the sung worship of Church in Scotland. And never mention of musical accompaniment. There are ony 22 verses about instruments in the psalms out of 2400 - very small. Not all references are about accompaniment. In NT, the book of Psalms is most quoted book : gives examples. Do we really think that the psalms do not talk about the Saviour? His suffering and the cross. No hymn writer speaks authoritively about him. This does not mean that we should not use poetic gift to praise.

Rev. K. D. Macleod (Livonia)
I am older than I look, and so I want to say that Christ’s authority is from top down. We represent him, not the other way around. Our duties come down from Christ. We have connection with him through our conscience. We should not represent our people - we should vote with understanding that we are goverened by Christ, through our conscience? We are polarised - through discernment on both sides. Unity is not going to be easy. Let’s be honest. Both sides have a position of conscience. We have a formal process that will deal with everyone’s conscience through barrier act.

Murdo Murchison
When the Trustees vote on Deliverance, I dissented.
Going back 40 years to attending after-church fellowship and hearing about the power of the blood etc - gives examples of hymns and how they helped him.
Felt transported to a different level. Tremendous experience. Wants to support Alex MacDonald, but for sake of unity, will vote for Deliverance.

Allan Macleod (Toronto)
I’ve found myself in strange places. Manchester Airport. Wed of Rangers and MU game. Reminded me of my time on terraces, when I sang acapella. Never thought I would see day that we’d be gathered as a plenary assembly to discuss this. My experience of thin end of wedge argument is that you can split two pieces of metal by tapping a little piece of metal into the wedge and there will eventually be an explosion. We are now becoming so tolerant that we’re going to become the broad church - with unscriptural views. Unity is the lowest common denominator. Is this the road we’re going down?
Good design in engineering is simple. Jesus and his disciples sang psalms unaccompanied. If it was good enough for him, then why is it not good enough for us? 

Derek Lamont
Disappointed with Board’s report. Focus on Kirk Sessions’ choice is unclear.
An appeal to my brothers, whom I regard as my closest friends, who take exclusive psalmody position. Agree that the book of Psalms is the book of praise. I sympathise, but disagree with is. Please reconsider your intention of voting for Deliverance. You’d be agreeing to do something you dont believe in, if you’re an exclusive psalmist. Be honest with your conscience and your heart.

Alasdair Macdonald
I hear a constant criticism that I try to please everybody. I always try and please the majority. There are opposing views, which claim to be biblical. Every argument has a counter. I suspect that every commissioner will be searching our hearts. In our congregation, we have 4 retired ministers from a hymn-singing church. Last week, we had a prayer meeting and asked them what they felt. They said they missed hymn-singing, but said they respected our position. Unity needs wisdom, grace and self-denial. Are we going to risk the disunity of the Church when our Sessions have stated their case?

Roddie Rankine
What is the unity option? We should not be too sure.
Scripture is NOT definitive, therefore we should give liberty. I can not assert, maintain and defend what I do not believe. We do not know what Paul means by Psalms, hymns and spirtual songs.
Report is fatally flawed in defining public worship. I’ve tried to find some light in this in scripture, but can’t find any definition as per Board.

Malcolm MacLean
I was converted in a hymn-singing church and discovered, eventually, that the Church took its theology from its hymns.
We have no command to sing anything other than psalms.

Iver Martin
Should not give weight to Sessions.
How far do we push the distinctive?
Concern for the Reformed Faith in Scotland.
This can only be achieved by consolidation with other like-minded people.
Alex’s motion gives freedom to Sessions. But it allows Sessions to do otherwise.

Iain Maciver
There is no wedge.

Peter Morrison
In favour of Alex’s amendment. We have to look to gospel partnerships. We don’t have people.
We should not hold out carrots - we’re not changing to attract people. But must make it easier to have people from elsewhere.
Surely the NT is bursting with the praise of Christ.
We prayed this morning in the name of Christ - let’s take the next logical step.
If we vote for keeping the peace alone, it’s like Elastoplast - doesn’t last.

Craig Murray
Is congregation’s theology dictated by our praise? That is one of my concerns about the Deliverance.

Iain Beaton
In OT, this was rule: see that you do everything according to pattern on mountain. That’s the way it remained. Until David, who did not.
When God incarnate came into the temple, he never criticised the form.

James Fraser
I am against the report. It is unfair to say that the report is not founded on scripture.
The Church’s position is flawed:
2) It is not a unity option - the Church has patched over the fact that it is not united.
3) Designation of public worship is nonsense. Unconscienciously invented to deal with our disunity.
There is total ambiguity in relation to the vows. I uphold the worship which the Church has legislated for. But others understand differently. Not satisfactory. Again, because we’re not in agreement.

Problem is simple: there are two views. Everyone agrees that this disagreement is sincere. Two things:
1) Which way would help us to be sola scriptura? The amendment.
2) Opportunity to practice what they believe. More of a unity option.

George Coghill
Problem with vows, which was answered in part by Alex. But still in position of having taken a vow, and yet my heart tells me to vote otherwise. Real difficulty.
What about the distinction between praise, preaching and praise?
Lots of hymns do not mention name of Jesus and are incomprehensible.

Kenneth Stewart
For deliverance. Not pleased with report. Shows disagreement.
Scriptural case should have been presented and could still be.
Addenda: Callum Macleod’s : we should revert to the default mode.
Rod Finlayson: he is closing an obvious loophole that should be a concern to everyone. He roots worship in the confession. Reminds us that worship is not about time and place, but about acts performed in a certain spirit. Demarcation between when we are worshipping and not - is important.
The Biblical case: References have been made to AI Macleod’s paper. He was wrong in key point. The news song is not a new covenant song, but a new order of song. Harps in Heaven are irrelevant. There is incense, palm branches and white robes. Book is symbolic.
The Church’s praise has always been inspired. Every single psalm is inspired. Every author is a prophet. The canon of psalmody closed just before the coming of Jesus - hence, they are the praisebook of the covenant king.

David Robertson
I asked two years ago and asked for scriptural evidence for our position, but apart from Kenneth Stewart, I have been disappointed.
We twist scripture to an extraordinary length in the way we want. We must allow scripture to interpret scripture.

Who decides what is fundamental to worship and what is circumstance? Conscience does not decide what is wrong and right. We also have difficulty with history. The early Church probably did not use instruments, but they used hymns. There is no thin edge of the wedge. The OPC have been a hymn-singing church, but they have not gone liberal. Report is meaningless in its definition of public worship. We can make what we want of it. If you vote for the report, do so for scripture and not for anything else. Vows do not prohibit us from changing things in church. 
Please do not let tradition stand in our way. Scotland needs the Free Church. Real unity is centred on Christ.

Dr Iain D. Campbell
The view I hold is that I want to remain in the same church as the previous two speakers. 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 safeguards 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! Alex’s 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!

Dr Donald MacDonald
Support of Alex’s amendment. But want to address those who are afraid of downgrade. There were those who disagreed with the change in 1870, who did not leave the Church.
Some suggest that this change to downgrade. Our adherence to the confession must remain solid. If the amendment carries, we must make sure we adhere to proper procedure.
Hopes that Callum Macloed’s addendum does not carry - infers policing. Appeal to accepting this amendment.

Chris Smart
There is problem coming home to roost. All kinds of problems have arisen because of our position on worship, which have prevented further unity between churches. We had a South African church-plant in London, who had to leave us because of our worship. (He then lists examples of various places where form of worship has prevented growth and unity. Need critical mass.) Please see that some are struggling. Today, we can cut the cord and let the burden fall off us. 

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.

Iain K. Macleod
Sums up
Assembly to vote on addenda. But ask Assembly to reject D. Jack’s addendum.
Gives summary of the argument behind the Deliverance and argues against the amendments.

VOTE is now being taken…...we will let you know when a result comes in. Expected in 30 minutes.

Vote will be by show of hands and not card.

The result is that Alex MacDonald’s amendment carried.

Vote was 98 to 84.

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