The address given at the invitation of the Synod of
Lothian, 12th October 1977.
I was more than a little astonished when asked to address
this venerable court on the theme, 'Has the Church a Future?' My surprise
was twofold. Firstly, because I felt that the question was a little old
fashioned in view of the work of W. H. van der Pol,  Robert Adolfs 
and many others  which has appeared during the last two decades and my
own prognostications were not seriously considered by the presbytery of
Edinburgh when I addressed it in 1970.  Secondly, it is probably the
first time in the history of this synod that one who has persistently and
consistently passed judgement on the ecclesiastical establishment, has been
asked to address representatives of it.
I am, however, greatly heartened by your invitation. I
hope that it is a recognition that my continual, constructive criticisms of
more than quarter of a century are inspired by a true concern for the Kirk
and are founded upon the Word of God and a theological and historical
scholarship. In other words, I trust that you will accept the cry of a
watchman which arises from conviction and from research and not from
indigestion and from committee minutes. 
Because the Church's heedlessness has been most marked in
its complete lack of interest in the worldwide reappraisals of the place of
faith and religion in the modern world, I am all the more compelled to
speak. Who has read, e.g., Desqueyrat's La crise religieuse de temps
 or the the seminal book by the Dutch Augustianian, The
Grave of God: has the Church a Future?
 Programme 2000
 or the volume of articles edited by
Schmacke entitled, 1980 ist morgen.
 It is almost certain that the very
incisive article of General Superintendent Gunter Jacob, 'Die Zukunft der
Kirche in der Welt des 1985'
 has never been read by anyone in
Scotland. More surprisingly, the small but significant book by Professor
Donald MacKinnon of Cambridge, 'The Stripping of the Altars'',
 did not cause a ripple on the stagnant pools of sludgy,
unthinking complacency in the Kirk. The most telling fact, however, is that
these articulate prophets - like many others - are all outside the Church of
Scotland as those inside it have been effectively silenced.
Why then do I dare to accept the role of a contemporary
prophet? You have thrust this duty upon me and I am grateful that a court of
the Church has finally recognised that the question has to be faced.
Therefore, in obedience to your request, I will try at least to point to
ways in which an answer may be found if I cannot indeed supply it.
The title which you set me for this paper has been
interpreted as being: 'Has the ecclesiastical, institutional, juridical
body, known as the Church of Scotland, the capacity to survive, for at least
the next fifty years, as an organisation capable of carrying out its
declared responsibilities as set out in the Declaratory Articles?'
I have framed your remit to me in this way for I am very
conscious of the truth of Joseph Hromadka's great statement that 'Church
history makes it very clear to us the damnable temptation concerning the
things of God of making the kingdom of God identical with the empirical
church, His truth with ecclesiastical constructed teaching and concepts, His
will with conventional moral standards, His heavenly power with clerical and
ecclesiastical privileges and possessions, His aim with the triumph of the
visible church, His purposes with earthly organisational projects, and His
authority with canonical authority in the form of a Christian highpriests'
tribunal'.  This synod is meeting against the background of the last
General Assembly's call for urgent renewal and, at the outset, may I warn
against any attempt at a ready-made white-robed revivalism which perpetuates
the present situation by cosmetically applying a snowy veneer of sweet
sentimental religiosity which many think can result from religious keep fit
exercises. The initial requirement is not a praying huddle as the presbytery
of Edinburgh recently decided - a 'yammer for grace' as a revered professor
used to put it. No! What is needed is the true repentance of the Church;
after an immediate and serious examination of its God-forsaken past. What is
required is not a mere renewal of the church but a radical reform. Reform,
the concept which has made an important impact on Christian thought and
action since the age of the early church fathers - Gerhart Ladner has
expounded this in great detail. 
The change must be radical so that the church can fully
recognise the situation as it really exists and cast aside its rose-tinted
reading glasses. As the confession of faith of the most successful secular
religion of this century puts it: 'All fixed, fast frozen relations, with
their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept
away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that
is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last
compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his
relations with his kind'. 
It will be recognised that before anyone can give a
prognosis about a body suffering from an apparently terminal disease, the
critical situation calls for a deep exploratory operation. This is what has
to be attempted first and, if some of you find it extremely painful, all I
can do is to apologise that I cannot, in the given situation, undertake the
operation under an anaesthetic.
To undertake such an investigation, it is necessary to
tear off rose-tinted spectacles, smash the religious opium pipes, break out
from the antiseptic atmosphere of the isolation ward of the religious
institution and face reality as it exists inside and outside the Church.
In such circumstances, we find ourselves in the company
of Jesus Christ. We are called to 'go forth therefore unto him without the
camp, bearing his reproach',  We have to
victimise ourselves to gain a true perspective by leaving for a time the
faithless and be with him who is the outsider. It must never be forgotten
that Christ felt that, as a precondition to the coming of the Kingdom of
God, he had to pass judgement on all that was 'religious' - the temple, the
priests, the Levites, the Pharisees, and all who mouthed the right words but
who had failed. 'Judgement must begin at the house of God'.
 If there is to be any real saving of the situation, there must
be a real sorrow for our share in the Church's plight. Remember, 'godly
sorrow worketh repentance to salvation'.  Many
express a desire that the Church might be saved from disintegratingness -
the nihil of Karl Barth  - but how many are
prepared to undertake the examination needed to discover those sins of the
Church which must be confessed and repented from if there is to be any
future for the Church in Scotland. This is the first task I propose to
Probably the greatest indictment of the Church of
Scotland if Christ were to come to the Jerusalem, so to speak, of the Church
today would be that he would have to find other words than those he spoke
long ago of the killing and stoning of the prophets. Those who have guided
the Church's destiny during this century have lacked the nerve to kill and
stone the prophets - they have merely scrupulously ensured that the majority
of the prophets in the Church have been emasculated by the exclusion from
the exercise of any ecclesiastical constitutional and financial power and
they have quietly ignored those outside.
There are so many obvious cases. One of the most
significant and one which has undermined the influence of the Church in the
postwar world was the Church of Scotland's total failure to support the
Confessing Church in Germany in its stand against Adolph Hitler even
although as early as 1935 Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to visit his old teacher
from New York days, John Baillie to enlist his support.  Not a word was
spoken by Baillie, later to be a Companion of Honour, or anyone else in any
debate or Report in a pre-war General Assembly nor were any of the
world-embracing theological or ecclesiastical problems involved ever
pondered by any such Assembly. It is all the more portentous when it has to
be revealed that no correspondence can be found in either the former
Colonial and Continental Committee files or the papers transferred to Geneva
from Edinburgh, when the headquarters of the World Alliance of Reformed
Churches moved there after the war, to indicate those responsible for the
scared and sinful silence of the Church of Scotland. 
We must remember with shame that students for the
ministry were still encouraged to go to Nazi controlled universities right
up to the outbreak of war. Yet who even knows - let alone honours - the
three Scottish theological students who identified themselves with the
Confessing Church and studied in its illegal theological seminary in
Wuppertal under the redoubtable Beni Locher.  One incident during this
time in the life of one of the Church's ecclesiastical managers, unillumined
by a single prophetic insight, sums up the Church's segregated outlook in
these early years of pagan Fascist aggression. This man never recognised the
real needs of the hour and played no part at all in the significant
ideological struggles before, during or after the war. He was more concerned
about a silly question put by a hanger-on at the Lambeth Conference 
than the fundamental questions being discussed by the Protestant Churches
which were to lead in the same year to the Barman Declaration - he probably
never even knew what was happening. It was in 1934 that John White admitted,
'I was much concerned about what lay behind the question and on my return
from the Lambeth Conference I consulted Church leaders (sic) and made an
important change (sic) in the ceremonial at the opening of the General
Assembly. We arranged to have the Moderator installed in his office'. 
So that old highland mystic, Lachlan MacLean Watt was induced to put a ring
on his successor's moderatorial finger.  Thus, as the embers glowed for
the future conflagration of Europe, the moderator for 1934 started off with
a ring on his finger although the silver buckles were not replaced.
Suitably, attired, parish pump hobby-horses continued to be ridden.  The
situation has not changed. Charades of irrelevance continue to be
re-enacted. In our own time, when the Church groans for a renewal of its
inmost soul, a letter is sent out from the Dean of the Chapel Royal to all
the Chaplains to the Queen, both Ordinary and Extra Ordinary, calling them
to a conference at the New Club, Edinburgh at 10.45 am., 19th January 1976
to hear a 'report on the situation'. It was a very serious situation, it
concerned 'Purple Stock and Red Cassock'  and so it goes on.
Thus, the prophets have been effectively silenced - most
of them rendered speechless with despair. However, one or two have learned
from Wittgenstein that 'what we cannot speak about we must assign to
silence'.  To those in such a position, the words of Professor Donald
McKinnon come in comfort, 'such silence is itself a kind of indirect
communication, the ultimate 'marturia te aletheia'
 There are some who can
thank God for every remembrance of such men. These are the men who have kept
more than one in the ministry of the Church. The destruction of the
prophetic has developed from the strong obsession of men of acquired
influence in the Church with sacerdotalism and ecclesiasticism and their
influence has been cyclically derived from such obsessions.
With such a total neglect of the prophetic, it can be
seen from the past history of the Church 'how an institution and an ideal is
modified as it passes through the centuries, and takes its colour from its
surroundings. In such a gradual transformation, the crisis comes when the
ideal has lost its force and the surrounding world has imposed its spirit as
well as its pattern'. This is the verdict of a contemporary Roman
Catholic academic historian who is also a monk. Friedrich Heer puts it more
cogently. 'Luther's reproach of the 'Babylonian whore' is, if properly
understood timeless! The so-called 'church' - meaning concrete Christianity
- has up until now gone to bed with every overlord in every — moment of
history'.  This whoredom of the church,
Bonhoeffer reminds us arises from 'a resurgence of the old Adam, the sin
Adam committed when he desired to be as God, to be the creator of life, to
rule rather than to serve'. 
The temptation to rule, to superintend, to 'give
leadership', to speak for the Church of Scotland, to become a controller of
the heritage of Christ, to be one of 'the great statesmen of the Church' or
even, as has been mealily mouthed at not a few ecclesiastical sunshine
hours, to be 'a prince of the Church'. All this, God help us, is still with
us despite the lessons of the reformation and the gradual jettisoning of the
mediaeval hierarchical concepts  within a
The following extract from The Glimmering Landscape
is sufficient to illustrate such an attitude and more: 'the doctrine
that all men are equal, however, has never worked in this world, and it was
not likely that it would work in the church. In so far as it is still
maintained by Presbyterianism, it is but a mere fiction and pretence. Like
many another popular slogan, it impresses the crowd and means nothing. In
practice the Church of Scotland has long departed from the position that all
its ministers, as regards their ecclesiastical status, stand in a position
of complete equality. Having abolished one set of dignitaries, it has
learned from experience and has had to create another. The Moderator of the
General Assembly, with his title of Right Reverend, his chaplains and the
rest, invested in face of the Assembly with an official ring like any
prelate, has been exalted into a sort of national archbishop. In the
official papers of the Assembly the word consecration is now used in
connection with his installation to office! ... Ex-Moderators constitute a
select hierarchy, and are styled not the Reverend like their humbler
brethren, but the Very Reverend. Her Majesty's Chaplains with their scarlet
cassocks enjoy a high prestige, and a quite august atmosphere surrounds a
Professor of Divinity, the Convener of an Assembly Committee, or even a
presbytery greatest tragedy affecting the life of the Church of Scotland is
apparent. The tragedy has been its growing absorption, since the reformation
of middle class cultural values. In saying this, I am well aware that
such values pre-date the reformation.  Much of the success of Marxist
attacks on Protestant Christianity has been because of its epitomization of
all that is bourgeois or better petit bourgeois - in contradistinction to
the continuing Fascism of Roman Catholicism.  In saying this, I am not
criticising middle class cultural values but the Church's adoption of them
to the exclusion of others. This has been the root cause of the Church of
Scotland's failure to integrate the proletarianised Scots of the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries into the life of the Church. How could one expect to
bring the working class community into a meaningful Christian fellowship
through Missions and Mission Sunday Schools run not so long ago by middle
class elders and well-meaning nice ladies of independent means from
Broughton Place, St. George's and the like, who were neither members of the
community nor prepared to be identified with it.  As a contemporary
distinguished historian has said, 'Church and Mission were associated but
distinct; one gave charity and the other received it. Women and children
attended the Mission Hall and self-respecting working men were absent... The
wife of a visiting minister once hurriedly put on an old raincoat to attend
[a Glasgow church's] evening service when her husband was preaching. As she
was leaving someone said to her, We were glad to have you here tonight; but
wouldn't you be more at home in the Mission!' [40/41]
We still have not learned as John Miller recently made clear.  In
addition, this middle class gentility still continues to distort the
totality and catholicity of the proclamation of the gospel. This gentility
is demonstrated in all its pathos, e.g., in the Church Hymnary.
Third Edition. Hymn 476 omits the strongest part of its advent theme: As
nearer draws the day of doom, While still the battle rages, The heavenly
dayspring, through the gloom, Breaks on the night of ages.
Not the kind of stuff to appeal to those sitting in
suburbia in a moquette covered easy chair and it certainly reduces the great
eschaton to the more readily acceptable atmosphere of a church hall coffee
morning! The excisions from the psalter seem to be motivated by the same
kind of atmospheric conditions.  This churchy hazy haar contributes
greatly to one growing practice which makes the future of the church most
uncertain. That is, the failure to state clearly what it maintains to be
true and essential. This is so widespread that even the most central words
which define fundamentals of doctrine and worship are misused. The Church
long ago was aware of the necessity 'to labour to have things rightly
worded'.  The primary cause of the current
corruption is, of course, that the Church has often failed to support the
truth or even lived out a lie. However, at the present time, many
pronouncements or even words are used to conceal radical differences so that
the membership has no idea of what the Church of Scotland really means when
words are used. There is no future for a Church given to semantic
Here we are not concerned, e.g., with the debate
concerning the more academic problems of the semantic presuppositions of
Kittel's Theologisches Worterbuch
 but the terrible way in which, as that
ecumenical scholar Professor Gordon Rupp has said, 'there is a disappearance
of the beauty of our English language (the daily sacrifice offered or
mutilated on the altar of the Ecumenical Movement)'. 
Unfortunately, the content of our English language is also sacrificed
and mutilated by that same movement. I take but three central words.
What a mess the Church is in as the current
correspondence in Life and Work indicates. No one seems to know of
baptists and anabaptists. While there is little awareness of the problem
which faced the early church and the reformers: their attitudes and
An alien word - eucharist - now in more common parlance
describes just one aspect, and not the most important, of the Lord's Supper,
seems to be used by certain ecclesiastical paperhangers to cover over
chasms. Eucharist - a word which is often vocalised in such a way as to give
out the antiseptic aura of the withdrawingroom rather than that power of
communion with Him who triumphed over blood, sweat, toil, tears and death.
Probably the silliest use of a word which has been
recently introduced through all kinds of revolving back doors is
'confirmation' which makes its debut in The Church Hymnary. Third
Edition. This word reminds us of what Humpty Dumpty said in the same
kind of scornful tones as has been heard from defenders of this and other
such words which, to quote words used in another area of liturgical
practice, have 'no genuine roots in Scottish tradition!  You remember
what Humpty Dumpty said, When I use a word ... it means just what I choose
it to mean, neither more nor less'. 'But', said Alice, 'the question is ...
whether you can make words mean so many different things'.  The church
has become a Wonderland and it all depends on which side of the looking
glass you stand.
To go one step further: probably the most serious
condition of the Church is its complete uncertainty about what the Gospel is
for the world of today and tomorrow. Karl Barth has said, We see the Church
of today in no sure position, wavering between yes and no, even more in
ethics than in dogmatics, now silent where it ought to speak, now speaking
where it ought to be silent; always two steps behind in its deliberations,
behind what the world has done without it; sulky and self-conscious in its
ethical objectives; definite only where it has nothing to fear for itself.
It is full of goodwill towards all sides; but certainly, very certainly, it
raises no prophetic voice, no watchman's eye, above the confusion of other
voices'.  The confusion of voices is in the Church as well as the world.
So much confusion that the Committee of Forty has never been able to fulfil
its first remit, viz. To seek to discern for the Church the nature of God's
purposes for his people in Scotland! 
What do we hear from the pulpits? There is a wide choice!
The candy floss preaching which leads to rampant diabetes bringing blindness
and footrot or 'the ballet of bloodless categories; as Dr. F. H. Bradly
wrote, that gyrate and dance in a vacuum. There is on the one hand the
seventeenth century orthodoxy which induces schizophrenia in the simple and
on the other the social gospel of the dilettante which is neither
condescendingly considered in the Cafe Royal nor smirked at in the Artisan
Bar. There are the vapours in which nothing can come alive as not one spark
is flying upwards or one can hear the exhalings of The Expository Times
or the purloinings or plagiarisations of the printed word preached in
the time of the good old Queen or a little later!  The anaemia of the
Church cries out for iron. This ferrous ingredient has to be hammered out by
the theologians of the Church of which every minister has to be one. This is
not a demand for writing table theology peering shortsightedly from behind
the dust of tomes. Luther knew that 'not reading or speculating, but living,
dying and being damned make a theologian'. Remember the words of St. John,
Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath
prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof .  Why
is this not happening in the midst of the Church? Why does the Lion of Judah
not break open the book to reveal the destiny of the world as the allusion
to Ezekiel infers?  The situation has been created where it is
impossible for the Church to bear having the Book wrenched open, for it has
turned the Lion of Judah into a domesticated pet.
The unawareness of the Christian gospel within the Church
which has been brought about by such activity has had the effect of creating
a conscious or unconscious disobedience of the people of God and the Church
is in danger of the greatest of disasters, if the disaster has not already
struck: it is not merely empty pews, nor empty coffers, nor empty lives but
empty souls - the suspension of grace.
The result of this was seen quite clearly by Lord Eustace
Percy who wrote, The twentieth-century Christian sees a static Church in a
changing world; the first-century Christian saw a static world and, at the
heart of it, a Church travailing in the birth-pangs of a new creation and
looking for the revelation of the sons of God'.  In other words, the
world is on the move and the Church has become paralysed. This paralysis is
the direct result of a failure to appreciate the four essential factors in
our Reformation heritage which Reinold von Thadden-Trieglaff has enunciated:
i the spirit of initiative
ii. the dynamic power of creative, imaginative ideas
ii. the capacity for realistic decision-making, and
iv. the courage of ethical responsibility 
These are almost non-existent in the Church of Scotland
today. In such a situation, the question has now to be put, 'Has the Church
of Scotland a future?
In spite of what has already been said, many will
correctly maintain that the question, 'Will the Scottish Church Survive?'
was put almost fifty years ago by George Thomson  and the Church is
still here. However, fifty years in the life of a nation or a church is a
very short time and all will admit that the catastrophic decline in the
number of first communicants reveals the lowest proportion of that age group
joining the Church in Scotland for a thousand years. The most recent work in
this field is being undertaken by John F. Kirk. 
Yet most would claim that the Church of Scotland will
always continue to exist. We are constantly being told - somewhat
im-Moderatorily - that 'the Church is in good heart'. While our hymn
revisers were so confident that they thought we were past maintaining that
the Church's strength is unequal to her task.  However, is it absolutely
certain that the Church will continue? Take a warning from the once powerful
church in North Africa in the early centuries A.D., later swamped by the
Moslems and now a mere shadow. Hidden beneath the pompous title of Pope and
Patriarch of Alexanderia is a baptised membership roughly the same as the
number in Orkney. Why did it happen? The old theory propounded by Christian
crusading historians was that the Moslems put all Christians to the sword -
an instance where the blood of martyrs was not the seed of the church. All
contemporary historians  worthy of the name
agree with the verdict of Hans Ruedi Weber, 'A church which does not
recognise the sociological and economic changes in its environment and
historical setting, and where its ecclesiastical structure hinders rather
than further its pastorial and missionary task within modern society, is
under sentence of death'.  The same symptoms are apparent in Scotland
Could the North African ecclesiastical desert winds blow
into Scotland? Has the Church a future? If one is truthful, the answer has
to be a hope without illusions  or, to put it
more honestly, one has to strive for hope amid scepticism
 to use phrases which come from men faced with real struggles to
ensure some kind of future. It is because I cannot see the Church yet
convinced of its sin, with an almost total absence of any impulse to real
self-examination, and therefore having an inability to repent and reform
that I can but view the future with hope amid scepticism.
I have hope because the Church is now acknowledged to be
shrinking rapidly. I would be in extreme hopelessness if God continued the
Church in its present form. I have hope that some strong minds may read the
signs of the times and initiate radical measures. I am sceptical because the
membership of the Church is old. It is very like those living on the state
pension: having to be satisfied with what has been salvaged from an active
life that is now over - a few mementos, the old-fashioned shiny suit or the
outmoded faded straw hat bravely sporting a new plastic flower, greying
surroundings and a minimum diet. These are the only things that can be clung
to. They will be the sole support to the end. As eyesight dims with all
passion spent, memories sustain. The shrivelling number of aged faces and
the half remembered few old sweet songs alone give meaning to life. The past
is always bright for today and tomorrow.
I have hope because it is only when men see that the
shaping of the world's destiny has fallen from the hands of those who failed
to make known the divine will and recovered by a vast fragmented army of
technocrats that the world is seen to be crying out for those brave enough
to assert once more the relevance of the queen of the sciences which alone
can reintegrate to wholeness and completeness. This could be achieved if the
total membership of the Church was involved for, as Alec Vidler has said,
'our professional theologians ... never seem to have any devastating new
Professor Whitehouse has neatly summarised the matter:
The time is ripe for theology as a discipline to be re-orientated so as to
become more open towards science, morals, law, letters, art and religions
-including Chinese irreligion and the attitudes closely resembling it which
are live options for persons in Britain today. This openness will be for the
sake of directing attention to the ways in which men ask and answer
fundamental human questions, and therefore for the sake of recovering what
it is that makes human life the rewarding, rich, tragic, enigmatic adventure
which it is known to be in any culture worth the name. Here then is new and
exacting work to be done'. 
I am sceptical because in an age of rising levels of
general education, the standard of theological competence and intellectual
openness in many manses is non-existent: 
while most elders, even those who are highly educated academically, have an
understanding of the Bible and the doctrinal standards of the Church which
would not equip them for a discussion with a ten year old member of the
Young Communist League. Theology has become a four-letter word twice over in
the Church and particularly in its courts. What confidence is inspired in
such exalted surroundings when the church barrackroom lawyer proclaims, 'Of
course, I am no theologian!' The tragedy is not that he invariably carries
the vote but that his massive support reveals both the loss of nerve
regarding the academic and intellectual status of theology within the
ministry and the elders' relief that their theological illiteracy is
considered commendable by their peers.
I am hopeful where I hear a word or observe activity
which reveals the existence of a faithful remnant within the Church. When
semper reformanda is really accepted, the reform of the Church, which
revitalises it, is invariably brought about by a minority.  Ibsen may
not have been absolutely right when he formulated the phrase that 'the
minority is always right'  but one can with confidence apply to the
Church Sydney Smith's claim that 'Minorities ... are almost always in the
right'. I am hopeful because this is the era of minorities bringing
about change and the world has made it possible for the Church's faithful
remnant to take heart, not from the ecclesiastical, but from the worldly
successes of remnants.
I am sceptical because devious flattery of the sweet
rabble-rouser is used to delude the majority in the Church into a
self-congratulatory frame of mind which reinforces them in their malaise and
they are encouraged to sleep out their unthinking lives in the cultivated
illusion that they are at ease in Zion. 
It has also to be recognised that the direction in which
the Church is proceeding is so institutionalised that the possibility of an
inspired minority ever being in a position to bring about the necessary
reorientation appears almost impossible.
I am hopeful about the future of the Church when I
observe specialists in various areas of life speaking convincingly with the
combined authority of intellectual and spiritual insight about Christian
obedience within their own spheres of competence. I am sceptical because far
greater publicity is given to the unfailing store of omnicompetent 'church
leaders' who are only too willing to fall as an easy prey to the lures of
the hunters of the mass media and make long windy comments on the latest
controversial theological advanced views, to pass highsounding ethical
judgements on an unseen prose, whether a play or a novel, and to give
endless nonchalant off-the-cuff pronouncements on all the manifold affairs
of mice and men. Thus these naive unconscious ecclesiastical verbal
caricaturists continue to supplement the ridiculous folk-lore which makes
the Church appear so preposterous and so hollow that it ceases even to be
the burlesque figure of fun it used to be.
I am hopeful for 'Indeed, today, after the miserable and
gigantic breakdown of our Western Commonwealth and European politics,
courage is needed to maintain, quand meme, in spite of the bankruptcy of
European statesmanship and the general unrest and actual or menacing
economic disorder and distress, the confidence that history is in God's
hands and that it has a goal, surpassing human understanding. God's
Revelation is not finished - it continues. To the task of Christian thought,
it belongs little by little to make history understood in a religious sense,
that is, to make men learn to see in the whole of history, in a prophetic
way, God's miracle, his revelation. For that purpose are required, first and
last, a scholarly penetration of the leading ideas of Scripture, then a
broad and deep study of history, also clear and comprehensive thought, well
versed in the progress of human thinking, and a truly scientific frame of
mind, every ready to modify and correct conceptions and views, however dear,
in deference to better information. But it is essential that such a
Christian thinker on history should place himself within the glowing beams
of light that issue forth from God's mercy in Christ'. 
These words from Soderblom's Gifford lectures present clearly the way in
which the Church must rethink its role as the interpreter of human existence
and face, with a recovered confidence, the exponents of secular ideologies
who not only claim but have convinced the vast majorities of the peoples of
the world that history is on their side. These secular prophets are winning
because of the church's flight from the actual within history. The secular
faith-builders are active, informed, convinced and have the initiative
because the primary functions of the ministry are lacking in the Church. The
Church only has a future if it can again be convinced under the Lord of all
to be the moulder and shaper of human history - the task to which the Church
is ultimately called.
May I say that the form of this paper has been dictated
by the prevailing condition of the patient. It would appear that most within
the Church are suffering from schizophrenia or depression; it is usual in
such cases to administer shock treatment as a precondition to recovery. If a
little fear, fright or shock has gripped your heart and mind, I am more than
In conclusion, may I quote Sir John Skene, James VI's
famous Lord Advocate and Lord Clerk Register:  'Quhat ever I have done I
did it not to offend thee or to displease any man, bot to provoke uthers to
do better'. 
1. W. H. van der Pol, The Christian Dilemma. new
York. 1952, Das reformatorische Christentum in phaenomenologischer
Betrachtung. Einsdeln. 1956, etc.
2. R. Adolfs, The Grave of God: has the Church a
Future? trans. D. N. Smith. London. 1967.
3. A massive bibliography could be given.
4. D. Shaw, There I met an old man' in Manse Mail,
Edinburgh. May 1970. 22-24.
5. Nor proceeding 'from coler then of zeal and reason'. (The
Works of John Knox. ed. D. Laing. Edinburgh. 1846. v. 5).
6. Paris. 1955
7. R. Adolfs, op. cit.
10. In Zeichen
der Zeit. Berlin. 1967. 441-51.
11. London. 1969.
12. J. L. Hromadka, Theologie und Kirche zwischen
gestern und morgen. Neukirchen. 1960. 99.
13. G. B. Ladner, The Idea of Reform. Cambridge.
14. K Marx and F. Engels, The Communist Manifesto,
ed. H. J. Laski. London. 1948.124.
15. Hebrews xiii. 14.
16. I Peter iv. 17.
17. II Corinthians vii. 10.
18. K. Barth, Church Dogmatics. Edinburgh. 1961.
iii. part 3. 334f. cf. E. Jungel, Uber
die Linie. 1950. 12.
19. E. Bethge, Dietrich Bonheoffer. Theologe, Christ,
Zeitgenosse. Munich. 1967. 479.
20. This has to be viewed against the other churches'
involvement in the apocalyptic events of the time. (cf. A. Boyens,
Kirchenkampf und Oecumene 1933-1939. Munich. 1969, Kirchenkampf und
Oekumene 1939-1945. Munich. 1975).
21. J. Wilson Aderson, 'Forty Years On' in New College
Bulletin. Edinburgh. No. 7. September, 1977. 4-5. Another student was J.
Fraser McLusky who married the daughter of Herbert Calaminus, minister in
Wuppertal, who acted as one of the Seminary Directors of the Prussian
Bruderrat (W. Niemoller, Die Evangelische Kirche im Dritten Reich.
Bielefeld. 1957. 347), until he, his wife, daughter-in-law and grandchildren
were all killed in an air raid on Wuppertal.
22. The question was put by the bishop of Gloucester
whose role prior to 1939 was very questionable. (cf. the German Christian
Professor, G. Wobbermin, Der Bischof von
Gloucester uber Volkstum, Christentum in Kirche in England und Deutschland.
23. Quoted by A. Muir, John White. C. H., D. D., LL.
D. London. 1958. 451.
24. Acts, Proceedings and Debates of the General
Assembly. Held at Edinburgh, May 1934. Edinburgh. 1934. 9.
25. cf. the amazingly irrelevant Church and Nation
Committee Report and ensuing debate in the General Assembly of 1934 which
took place on the same day as the opening of the historic first Confessing
Synod of Barman. (A. C. Cochrane, The Church's Confession under Hitler.
Philadelphia. 1962. 140-180: cf. The Significance of the Barman
Declaration for the Ecumenical Church. Theology. Occasional Papers. New
Series. London. 1943. No. 5).
26. Letter dated 28th November 1975.
27. Quoted by D. MacKinnon, op. cit. 35.
29. D. Knowles, Saints and Scholars, Cambridge.
30. F. Heer, quoted by K Farner, 'Criticism of
Christianity' in Communio Viatorum, Prague.
1966. ix. 34.
31. D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of
Discipleship. London. 1959. revised edition. 255.
32. cf. e.g., J. Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle
Ages. London. 1955. 56-66.
33. C. L. Warr, The Glimmering Landscape. London.
34. Mark xii.37.
35. Quoted in D. Schmidt, Pastor Niemoller.
London. 1959. 158 cf. Niemoller's own words in Zeitschrift fur
evangelisches Kirchenrecht. 1959-1960. vii.
36. cf. G. Harkness, John Calvin, the Man and his
Ethics. New York. 1958. 157-177.
37. e.g. Leon Battista Alberti, Delgoverno della
famiglia. cf. E. Aubel, Leon Batista Alberti e i libri Della Famiglia.
38. Continuing to be displayed in such activities as the
canonisation of John Ogilvie who was rightly hanged for treason, although
the King dispensed with his being drawn and quartered.
39. cf. e.g. A. A. MacLaren, Religion and Social
Class. The Disruption Years in Aberdeen. London. 1974 and H. McLeod,
Class and Religion in the late Victorian City. London. 1974.
40. A. L. Drummond and J. Bulloch, The Church in
Victorian Scotland. 1843-1874. Edinburgh. 1975. 50.
41. J. D. Miller, Problems of the Ministry and Mission
of the Church in New Housing Areas and other Working Class Parishes.
Glasgow. 1976. passim, especially 2, 5-7.
42. Cp. Hymn 476 in The Church Hymnary. third
edition. with Hymn 370 in The Revised Church Hymnary. There are
several other genteel pearls! The omissions in Hymn 221 will be treasured by
all such (cp. Hymn 77 in R.C.H.). In Hymn 519: Feed the faint and
hungry heathen' has become Teed the faithless and the hungry - much more
43. Psalm 72 appears twice in C.H.3. as Hymns 158
and 167 and in both cases verse 9 is omitted: to quote the metrical version:
'They in the wilderness that dwell
bow down before him must,
And they that are his enemies
shall lick the very dust'.
In Psalm 51, verse 5 is omitted (C.H.3. Hymn 63);
Psalm 85 lacks verses 3 and 4 (C.H.3. Hymn 75) and Psalm 96 has verse
10 missing (C.H.3. Hymn 311) - all seem to be motivated by some
44. MS Records of Presbytery of Fordyce, 1651.
45. The continuing debate started with J. Barr, The
Semantics of Biblical Language. Oxford. 1961 and his criticism
particularly of the thesis of T. Boman, Hebrew Thought compared with
Greek. London. 1960.
46. G. Rupp, The Old Reformation and the new: The Cato
Lecture for 1966. London. 1967. 54.
47. cf. the massive and informative footnote in R. H.
Bainton, 'The Struggle for Religious Liberty' in Studies on the
Reformation. Boston. 1963. 215n.
48. R. S. Louden, The True Face of the Kirk.
London. 1963. 59.
49. L. Carroll, Alice Through the Looking-Glass.
Chap. vi. I owe this quotation to F. Stroud, The Judicial Dictionary.
London. 1890. It may be significant that it has been dropped from the
forefront of the third and fourth editions!
50. K. Barth, The Desirability and Possibility of a
Universal Reformed Creed' in Theology and Church. London. 1962. 133.
51. Reports to the General Assembly. Edinburgh.
1977. 474f. where the underlying problems are revealed by what is not said.
52. cf. the letter from J. M. Gossip in Life and Work.
Edinburgh. September, 1977.
53. Revelation v. 5.
54. Ezekiel ii. 9.
55. Lord Eustace Percy, The Unknown State: a Plea for
the Study of Government. Oxford. 1944. 31.
56. R. von Thadden-Trieglass, Der mundige Christ. 1956
quoted by E. Emmen, 'Die Auswirking der Emder Synode von 1571 auf die
Entwicklung der Niederlandischen Reformierten Kirche in Verfassung und
Bekenntnis' in 1571 Emder Synode 1971. ed. E. Lomberg.
Neukirchen-Vluyn. 1973. 149.
57. G. M. Thomson, Will the Scottish Church Survive?
58. J. F. Kirk, Examining Edinburgh: A Survey of the
Churches in the Presbytery of Edinburgh for the years 1960 to 1972.
Edinburgh, n.d. Typewritten and privately circulated and the forthcoming
study, The Statistical Survey of Church Life in Edinburgh. 1960-1974.
59. cp. Hymn 477 in C.H.3. with Hymn 344 in
R.C.H. verse 3.
60. H. Russillon, Une Enigme missionnaire: Les
Destines de l'Eglise Chretienne dans l'Afrique du Nord. Paris. 1931, C.
P. Groves, The Planting of Christianity in Africa. London. 1948-1958. 2
vols., W. Freytag, 'Die Lehre der Kirchengeschichte Nordafrikas fur die
heutige Mission' in Reden und
Aufsatze. Munich. 1961. ii. 63-72.
61. H. R. Weber,'Kirche in Todesgefahr: Einige Lehren aus
der nordafrikanischen Kirchengescchichte' in Aufruf und Aufbruch: Zur
Gestalt der Kirche in Gegenwart und Zukunft. edd, G. Johann, J. Michel,
A. Schonherr and B. Schottstadt. Berlin. 1965. 98.
62. Hoffnungohne Illusion, ed. Zeddies. Berlin.
63. V. Gardavsky, Hoffnung
aus der Skepsis. Munich. 1970.
64. A. Vidler, 'The Future of Divinity in Crisis in
the Humanities, ed. J. H. Plumb. London., 1964. 95.
65. W. A. Whitehouse, Theology as a Discipline?' in
Universities Quarterly. London. September. 1962. 336.
66. cf. e.g. MS Proceedings of the General Assembly of
1977 and the comments regarding the Filioque Clause of the Nicene Creed
during the debate on the Panel on Doctrine Report.
67. While his views on the Remnant are too canonicalised,
there are very useful insights in A. T. Hanson, The Pioneer Ministry.
London. 1961. 14-45.
68. H. Ibsen, The Enemy of the People. Act iv.
69. Quoted by H. Pearson, The Smith of Smiths.
London. 1934. 220.
70. 'The heirarchs are always trying to do the popular
thing. They are affable, condescending, and solicitous so that the people
will not be aware of their immaturity and their lack of control over their
future'. J. Moltmann, The Open Church: Invitation to a messianic life
style. London. 1978. 99. (previously read in Neuer Lebenstil.
Schritte zur Gemeinde. Munich. 1977).
71. N. Soderblom, The Living God. The Gifford Lectures
of 1931. London. 1932. 377-378.
72. G.W.T. Omond, The Lord Advocates of Scotland.
Edinburgh. 1883 i. 60-67.
73. Quoted on the title page of Lord Cooper, Select
Scottish Cases of the Thirteenth Century. Edinburgh. 1944.