If Calvin Weren’t Already Dead, The Church of Scotland Would Just Have Killed Him

Or he them.

Scotland‘s largest protestant church has swept away centuries of tradition and voted to allow gay men and lesbians to become ministers, opening up the prospect of the church allowing civil partnerships for same-sex couples.  The Church of Scotland imposed a temporary moratorium in 2009 on admitting gay and lesbian ministers after Scott Rennie became the first openly gay clergyman in a homosexual partnership to be officially appointed as a minister in the church.  The church’s general assembly, its law-making body, voted on Monday to lift that moratorium, officially officially allowing gay ministers to take on parishes for the first time since its formation 450 years ago.  The general assembly also allowed serving gay and lesbian ministers who have kept their sexuality private to openly declare their sexuality – a proposal bitterly resisted by evangelical and conservative ministers.

How very unfortunate that the great Church of Scotland, whose heritage reaches back to the likes of Calvin and Knox has fallen prey to modern society’s dismissal of scripture in favor of the sorriest sort of cultural accommodationism.  Via.

3 thoughts on “If Calvin Weren’t Already Dead, The Church of Scotland Would Just Have Killed Him

  1. Don 24 May 2011 at 11:47 am

    Part of the problem is that the conservative elements in the Church split off over a century ago in the north-west of the country (the various shades of the Free Church, whose main controversy at the moment is whether to allow pianos or guitars into church (!) ). Evangelicals within the Church of Scotland have also been tending to join independent evangelical churches. This takes away a lot of the conservative forces, leaving nominal, cultural Christians who like attending the state (with a small s) church, and who take a very ‘progressive’ view to the Bible.


  2. Sam 24 May 2011 at 11:59 am

    Perhaps Calvin would’ve disagreed with the Kirk, and perhaps he wouldn’t have. We do not know. But his unwillingness to hold Christians to the works of the law give me hope that his position on this particular issue might not have been what his most conservative defenders claim on his behalf.

    We in the 21st century see Calvin as particularly backward. But in the 16th century, Calvin was extremely advanced. Just as with the Bible, quoters of Calvin can take anything out of context and defend it as being in complete agreement with one’s own views. Case in point: Civil government. Those who demand submission to rulers happily quote him here: “It has pleased [God] to appoint kings over kingdoms, and senates or burgomasters over free states: whatever be the form which he has appointed in the places in which we live, our duty is to obey and submit” [Institutes 9.20.8]. And this: “We cannot resist the magistrate without resisting God” [9.20.23].

    But what about this? “[God] broke the bloody sceptres of insolent kings, and overthrew their intolerable dominations. Let princes hear and be afraid” [3.20.31].

    But certain obscure homosexual acts (not homosexual orientation) is condemned in the both testaments of the Bible, you say. Well slavery is wholeheartedly endorsed in both testaments, and Calvin defends it, too. Yet it was Calvinist Christians (i.e. Congregationalists) who led the fight against it in 19th-century America. I happen to think they were right in what they did, and I suspect that, 3 centuries after his original thoughts on the subject, Calvin himself would’ve had a change of heart on the subject… and if he didn’t? Then I’d proudly disagree with him.

    I, for one, will not put words in Calvin’s mouth (or string them along behind his pen) on the subject of gay or lesbian persons serving the church. If I did, I’d have to bring up all his other 16th-century faults as well.


    • Jim 24 May 2011 at 12:11 pm

      no need to wonder what calvin said about the subject. it’s no mystery at all. it’s not a matter of putting words in his mouth, its a matter of reading. see his commentary on romans.


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