I do not doubt the sincerity of the letter from Free Presbyterians Rev Gordon Dane (Moderator of Presbytery) and Rev John Greer (Clerk of Presbytery ) on the place of Christian marriage in society
I am unclear on the meaning of ‘Free’ in the title of the Church. Does it mean free from, or free to?
I belong to the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and its doctrinal position is also that marriage is between a man and a woman (currently my own position but I remain open to other possible interpretations).
The Free Presbyterian letter’s opening sentence refers to the “fundamental principle that God’s infallible Word is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice”.
A reasoned narrative is then presented with Biblical quotations as evidence of truth.
Caution is needed when quotations are taken out of context and applied as absolutes for all time.
Quotations have many sub-sets of meaning when applied to contemporary society.
The Bible is not infallible and has many inconsistencies and contradictions. There are several discrepancies in the accounts of Jesus’s life as contained in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There is also evidence that not all of Paul’s letters were written by him.
Contemporary genetic research demonstrates that the behaviour of same-sex attraction is largely determined by inherited genes. Should such couples be consigned to a life of celibacy? Should they just be welcomed into Christian congregations with a smile, sympathy, tea and a tray bake?
Professor John Barton is a distinguished Biblical scholar of Oxford University and his latest book (‘A History of the Bible’) has just been published.
He concludes in his splendid book of meticulous research and scholarship that freedom of interpretation, yet commitment to religious faith, need to go hand in hand.
This seems to me possible if we accept the Bible as a crucial yet not infallible document of Christian faith.”
George McNally, Londonderry