David J. Randall’s new book: A Sad Departure: Why we could not stay in the Church of Scotland, chronicles the all too familiar departure from biblical orthodoxy, this time in the Church of Scotland, and the recent sad departure of ministers and congregations as a result. It contains a narrative familiar to many of us in Anglican North America. Sinclair Ferguson’s Forward is reprinted in the December The Banner of Truth magazine. He writes that it is a thoughtful, honest and solemnizing book that is written out of a deep pastoral concern for the cause of the gospel. And for many of us who have experienced the same in North America, we know that it must not have been an easy book to write. This paragraph from the Forward resonated deeply with me:
“Those who have left may seem small in congregational size, few in number,in some instances without permanent buildings of their own, and much despised. But the issue raised by A Sad Departure is in part this: Is it not better to be all that and free now to teach and apply God’s word and build for the future than to undergo a slow but progressive deterioration through the kind of famine of hearing the words of the Lord that Amos described (Amos 8:11-12)? For at the end of the day, unless God’s word can be applied as well as taught, the church withers. Famines of hearing the words of the Lord tend to come progressively not suddenly, often because although taught, the word of God has not been digested and applied. Where limits are placed on the application of God’s word, people become accustomed to meagre diets and begin to regard them as normal; they do not realise they are starving until it is too late. And then the day comes when they realise they need food but no longer know where it can be found.”
There is a solemn warning here. Just because we have left is no guarantee we will not repeat what were the causes of our departure in the new.