Saturday, September 27, 2014

Should Non-Scots Join the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland?

This is from chapter four of my forthcoming book, Presbyterianism Re-Asserted:

#13. Isn't it absurd to say that all Christians throughout the world should be members of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland? Isn't that something of an oxymoron? 

      As I've already made a statement elsewhere that I thinks sums up what I want to say here pretty well, I'll just quote that:

       “I do not believe it is ideal that Christians in countries outside of Scotland should be members of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Ideally, the Church of Scotland ought to be limited to Scotland. The current situation, however, is that the FPCS is not in formal communion with any other denomination around the world. It remains separate from them all, and, assuming it is right in retaining this separation, this leads to a moral duty (all other things being equal) for all of us to seek as much as possible to be in communion with the FPCS and avoid communion with denominations that are not in communion with it, for reasons described above.
       However, what we would like to see ultimately is each nation having its own established orthodox national church in full communion with the FPCS, united under a binding, presbyterian international council.1 For now, for example, it is right for there to be an FPCS in Santa Fe, TX; but ultimately, we would want to see enough churches in the USA to establish a national body that is no longer under Scottish oversight (while still being in full communion with and mutually accountable to the Scottish church). And it is not hard to see that the more we all take these issues seriously enough to act accordingly, even to the point of joining the FPCS, the closer we will be to being able to reach this long-distance goal of having indigenous national churches in full communion with each other and the FPCS. On the other hand, if we all wait until there is already such a national church in our own land before we leave the schismatic denominations and unite with the FPCS, how will such a church ever be built up? It may be the case that some particular denomination in our own land will reform itself to the point that it can join in full communion with the FPCS and become a proper national church, but we cannot wait for this to happen before we consider what our own personal duties may be in these matters.”

1For more on the Establishment Principle and how it relates to the unity of the church, see my article entitled “The Establishment Principle and the Unity of the Church,” found at (Part I) and (Part II) as of 1:22 PM on 9/23/14.

For more, see here.

UPDATE 11/19/14:  Here is what the FPCS has said on its website about the meaning of its name, including the "of Scotland" part:

Q. Why are you called the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland?
A. There are reasons for each part of the name:
  • We are called “Free” because we are the true successors to the Free Church of Scotland formed in the 1843 Disruption from the established Church of Scotland, to keep the Church of Christ free from state interference.
  • We are called “Presbyterian” because we adhere to Presbyterianism, the only Biblical form of Church government.
  • We are called “Church” because that is the New Testament name for Christ’s body on earth in its visible form, of which we are a branch.
  • We are called “of Scotland”, not because we are geographically limited to Scotland, but because we adhere to all the Scriptural attainments of the First and Second Reformations in Scotland, and claim to be the true constitutional representative of the historic Church of Scotland.

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