The Church of Scotland General Assembly’s debate on Scottish independence on 20 May is a face-saving exercise following the lamentable failure of the Church and Society Council and the 2012 and 2013 General Assemblies to offer the people of Scotland any clear direction on the future of the nation.
Why can the Church and Society Council offer a theology of nationhood for Palestine and not for Scotland?
Historically, Christian churches have expressed confidence in the future of emerging nations and they have been the cement and glue that allowed progress for these nations.
Nationhood is about identity, values and purpose. On 19 September the Church of Scotland may find itself on the wrong side of history. There is a possibility of a Yes vote and, failing that, an increase in devolution.
A different trajectory for the future of Scotland than that identifiable with the Union over the past 300 years is being described at present.
Canada is smaller than America and New Zealand is smaller than Australia, but each is respected for its own identity and values. There is aspiration among many in Scotland for humane nationhood.
The national Church of Scotland should be taking a pastoral and prophetic path. Fence-sitting is not a Christian vocation.
But this Church has long since lost contact with its source of Christian inspiration and direction. The General Assembly ought to vote on the substantive issue.
The supposed impartiality is a strategic sham – a disguise for the status quo. As Robert Burns would say, “a parcel of rogues”.
(Rev Dr) Robert Anderson
Blackburn & Seafield Church