More Viewpoint articles from past issues of the Presbyterian Standard are available online here.
ARDINAL Winning, the leading Roman Catholic in Scotland, has made a bold claim. He is reported in
as saying that 'Catholicism' (for which read Popery) would be
Scotland's only faith in the next century. Believing that the smaller
Presbyterian denominations are dying out, while the 'mainstream'
Churches are moving away from their traditional "dreariness" he is
offering remarkable terms for 'reunification': a return to
pre-Reformation doctrine and government but with a much diminished role
for the Papacy.
Leaving aside the Cardinal's prophetic speculations (which we believe
and pray will be disappointed) we see how the modern ecumenical mind
works. It regards all churches (and increasingly, all faiths) as a
continuum, each divided from the rest only by degrees of understanding;
from 'Catholic' to Calvinist there is a sliding scale of belief. Such
thinking has no place for vital truth: it wilfully disregards the fact
that the true Reformed Faith and Popery are separated not by an
accident of history but by the gospel itself. Romanism (and, indeed,
Arminianism) teaches a gospel of works, not of grace only: those who
preach it place themselves under the Divine anathema delivered by Paul
(Gal. 1:6-9); the Lord's people have no business in seeking communion
with such darkness.
The scheme proposed for ending hostilities is far from a
'meet-each-other-halfway' one. Says Winning: "There will be no movement
on doctrine and no movement on the seven sacraments.... Remember, it
was them who left us." Surrender is required and reunion will be by
absorption. As someone said, when in this dispensation the lamb lies
down with the wolf, the likely outcome is that the lamb ends up inside the wolf, disappearing altogether.
Finally there is the assumption that episcopacy is 'a good thing': "The other Churches will have to accept bishops." The Scots of all people have reason to be wary of prelates. We have heard of a friend who recently spoke up for biblical church government at a meeting promoting ecumenism only to be denounced by an Episcoplian clergyman as an idolater: "You worship the Bible!" Not so, but worshipping the God whose Word it is we say to all such that it is not right "to hearken unto you more than unto God" (Acts 4:19) - in anything. May Scotland soon see that the Cardinal is not after all winning!