Chapter Three is titled To Leave or Not to Leave? And as you can imagine, it interacts with the various evangelical responses to the present conflict over the church’s teaching on marriage, sexuality and ordination. The various options are outlined as follows:
“Should evangelicals swallow hard and get on with the task of ministering in their parishes –‘you in your small corner and I in mine’?”
“Should evangelicals resign?”
“Should evangelical ministers and elders seek to lead their congregations to secede from the denomination?”
“Should they seek to form some kind of conservative Church within a Church?”
Randall engages with these issues as well as the specific arguments for evangelicals staying within the Church of Scotland.
Reasons for staying
Some evangelicals within the CofS argue that “the Church of Scotland remains an important vehicle for reaching the whole population of Scotland with the gospel and, despite recent decisions, believe that God is still at work in the Church of Scotland.”
Evangelical groups like ‘Covenant Fellowship’ can become an effective campaign group within the CofS that acts on behalf of Christian Orthodoxy.
Evangelicals who leave the Church thereby “dilute evangelical influence in Presbyteries and Assemblies and make it so much harder to bring them back to a scriptural position.”
God may yet turn the denomination around and get it back on track.
The Parochial Perspective: “so long as ‘the establishment leave them alone to exercise a biblical, pastoral, and evangelical ministry in their parishes, there is no need to leave, and they can remain untainted by assembly decisions.”
Randall acknowledges that some of the arguments for staying in have ‘force’. However, he obviously comes down on the side of leaving. Randall asks some penetrating questions of those who choose to stay,
“If you stay, doesn’t it mean that the liberal denomination has you where it wants you – protesting and making a noise but nevertheless submitting to its liberal decisions after all?”
Randall is deeply aware of the cost of leaving, he engages with the emotional, financial, domestic, personal, and relational cost that is involved. He finishes with the following words:
“When the cost of departure is so high, why bother? Is it really worth taking a costly step? To answer these questions we must next consider the teaching of scripture, our supreme rule of faith and life, and understand the reasons why it is binding on God’s church.”