“Covenant Fellowship Scotland…
…working for the reformation of the Church of Scotland, according to the Bible”
What’s The Vision?
What is Covenant Fellowship Scotland all about? Why does it exist? What is its vision? Those are good questions. The answer to all of them is that Covenant Fellowship Scotland exists to help the people of the Church of Scotland to be faithful to God, in their lives in their congregations, and in their daily lives.
Covenant Fellowship Scotland came into existence because of a strongly-held feeling that the Church of Scotland, whilst meaning well, is in grave danger of deliberately moving away from faithfulness to God, that is, faithfulness to God as biblical Christianity understands and commands it. We know, of course, that God speaks about his love for us and reveals his will for us in the Bible. But this is precisely where our denominational difficulties come from. Covenant Fellowship Scotland believes that the problems being faced by the Church of Scotland and by other denominations – though not all – are largely caused because the Bible is increasingly ignored and its guidance rejected.
Put simply, the purpose of Covenant Fellowship Scotland is to work for the Reformation of the Church of Scotland, according to the Bible.
Our vision is to see the Church of Scotland reformed and revived through prayer, evangelism, discipleship and holiness, as these things are found and revealed in the pages of the Bible. We believe that the problems of division and disagreement that our denomination has faced, and which it continues to face, have been caused because we increasingly look to our surrounding culture for religious and moral direction, and not to the Bible. We are in serious danger of seeing the world as our supreme authority, instead of the Holy Spirit speaking to us clearly and consistently through God’s written word, the Bible. With God’s help, we will invest our energy and effort in calling the Church of Scotland – its members and adherents – to align its doctrine, life and work with the unerring truths of the Bible, which is the word of God.
How Will We Do That?
Firstly, we will encourage and inspire orthodox believers within the Church of Scotland – church leaders and members – to work together within Presbyteries in order to make local evangelism, fellowship and discipleship available. We will call on local believers to join together, to listen to the Holy Spirit, and to work prayerfully in partnership for the reformation of the Church of Scotland, in line with the Holy Scriptures.
Secondly, at the heart of our vision is the importance of fellowship. We are a fellowship of orthodox Christians who love the Church of Scotland, who are deeply troubled by the theological trajectory along which the Church is travelling, and who prayerfully seek biblical reformation and renewal for the Church. Our vision is to foster genuine Christian fellowship for orthodox believers in the Church of Scotland who feel isolated, unwanted and dispirited by the theological trajectory of our denomination, and by an ever-increasing sense of alienation.
Thirdly, we seek to speak the truth in love to our denomination on points where we feel it to be departing from biblical truths. We will support and affirm those parts of the Church of Scotland that are responding faithfully to call of the Lord Jesus, speaking through the Holy Scriptures. But Covenant Fellowship Scotland will lovingly and firmly challenge the Church at those points where the Church of Scotland departs from Christian faithfulness, in life or doctrine. We will also call orthodox believers to recognise the seriousness of the situation in which our Church finds itself, and to ally themselves with Covenant Fellowship Scotland in this movement of reformation and revival.
Fourthly, Covenant Fellowship Scotland will offer leadership to the many orthodox people in the Church of Scotland who are shocked and dismayed by the trajectory which the Church has been on for several years. Many are losing heart, looking for spiritual leadership, and feeling powerless. We have frequently been asked, ‘Is no-one doing anything?’ Covenant Fellowship Scotland offers people a rallying point for Christian orthodoxy, as well as providing biblical leadership within the Church of Scotland. Until now, only ministers and elders have been able to speak about the issues before the Church (at Kirk Session and Presbytery) but Covenant Fellowship Scotland aims to be a grassroots movement of members and adherents, as well. The Covenant Fellowship Declaration has enabled hundreds of members and adherents to register their views, for the first time.
Fifthly, Covenant Fellowship Scotland will encourage nationwide prayer for the reformation and renewal of the Church of Scotland, for the growth of the Church in Scotland, and for the evangelisation of the people of Scotland. We will call on God’s people to call out to God with urgency and humility, with repentance and hope, believing that God is merciful and loving, reconciling and pardoning.
Why Do We Stay?
Some ministers and congregations have departed from the Church of Scotland. They felt that the denomination has irretrievably abandoned its biblical roots. Many, many more church members and adherents have quietly slipped away from the Kirk, or have resigned from the formal membership fo the Church of Scotland whilst remaining with local, evangelical congregations. The number of members and adherents who have left the Kirk because of its revisionist trajectory is not recorded, but we know them to be many, and their withdrawal, in one form or another, has weakened the mission of the Church of Scotland considerably.
Why stay, when others have left? Covenant Fellowship Scotland does not believe that God has commanded or called us as a group of believers to leave this denomination, not through the Bible, nor in our hearts and convictions. Nor do we believe that God has incontrovertibly and undeniably shown that he is finished with the Church of Scotland. Therefore, because we do not feel, in all good conscience, that we have heard God say ‘leave,’ we are bound to stay, no matter how difficult are the circumstances we face and the disappointments we experience. The Reformed cause within the Church of Scotland has been decimated by the message that the only way to protest is to leave the denomination. That is not so. We aim to counter that message, by offering a rationale for remaining within the Church. We are going to stand our ground, as soldiers of Christ, and we are not going to move or budge unless the Lord issues us with new orders.
What About Integrity?
It is not enough to persuade people to remain in the Church of Scotland, however. Covenant Fellowship Scotland will show that there is a way to enable them to remain with integrity. Many people are being told that to stay in the Church of Scotland means that they are complicit in whatever decision the Church takes, and so by staying they will inevitably be tainted or compromised. We need to provide a way of staying in the Church with integrity. In other words, we need to create a Covenant Fellowship which has three core principles: first, we believe that God has called us to serve in the Church of Scotland and so we are not leaving; second, we are prepared to stand together against any decision of the courts of the Church which is contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture; third, we will actively work and pray towards the future reformation of the Church. This ought to enable faithful Christian believers to remain with integrity, through participation in Covenant Fellowship Scotland.
We Will Speak Prophetically
The first act of the Covenant Fellowship was to call the Church to repentance, and this remains our priority. The Church, if it continues on the present trajectory, will have departed from its constitutional basis in Scripture, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Declaratory Articles and must be challenged. It is our prophetic duty to make such a protest and to issue such a call. This call will resonate with the concerns of many in our congregations – with all who love the Lord and who are committed to living in a biblical, Christian way.
What About The Future?
In all of this, we must look to the future and to the generations following us. The intention of Covenant Fellowship Scotland is to be a body with a long-term strategy for the Reformation of the Church. We must call people to pray, we must remind people of the Gospel, we must remind people of our Reformed heritage and we must mobilise and motivate people through a clearly articulated vision for the transformation of the Church. The days ahead may well prove to be very difficult but the Lord will vindicate his ‘remnant’, as he has done throughout history, even if this is preceded by a period of judgement on our land and on our Church.
We are deeply concerned that the Church of Scotland is moving away from its roots in Scripture and the Westminster Confession of Faith. We believe that Covenant Fellowship Scotland provides a force for spiritual good and a focus for Christian fellowship for those who believe that the Scriptures, in their entirety, are the Word of God and must provide the basis for everything we believe and do. Our vision is nothing less than the reformation and renewal of the Church of Scotland, in accordance with the Word of God and by the empowering of his life-giving Spirit.