Paper by Rev Edward Andrews and George Donaldson
Scotland has for long been considered a Christian Nation.
It could reasonably be argued that the first clear statement of the identity of the nation was in the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320. This was a letter from the Scottish Barons to Pope John XXII calling on him to recognise Scotland’s identity and long history as a separate kingdom under its own King and calling upon the Pope to reject the the King of England’s claims for feudal overlordship.
It would be very easy to get diverted in history as we look at the Christian arguments for an independent Scotland. That however is not how I believe that we should go. God has no grandchildren; each generation has to discover for itself the promises and the love and the reality of God. No nation can define itself on the basis that at some time or another its leaders proclaimed that nation’s identity in Christian terms as a member of a community of Christian nations – Christendom.
This is doubly true for Scotland. Three hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath the people of Scotland re-affirmed their identity as a Christian nation in the National Covenant of 1638. Here the identity of the nation was identified through an affirmation of the practice and doctrine of the Reformed Church of Scotland. Scots were seen as at once subjects of the earthly Kingdom of King Charles I, and at the same time citizens in the eternal Kingdom of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. In both these Kingdoms they enjoyed rights and privileges under law, while owing duties and responsibilities to the Royal Authority of the respective Kings. Again, the concept of Christendom underlay this declaration.
As Christians professing our faith in post Christendom Europe, we have to look beyond the experience of the people of God in Scotland alone. Perhaps we need to return to the Biblical model of the people of God as salt, or as yeast, or as light in a dark or corruptive world. Perhaps we have to recover the concept of the Two Kingdoms underlying the 1638 Covenant as we witness to Scotland of the Lordship of Christ, His demands, and His Sovereignty. Perhaps we have to abandon the idea of Christendom, and of Scotland as a Christian nation in a family of Christian nations and turn to a model of Scotland as a nation in which Christians live whose citizenship is with God, but who live on this earth as pilgrims and sojourners demonstrating that the Kingdom of God can break into society.
Rather than being comfortable and at ease in our nation and in the world, we as Christians are called to live in tension. We are called to proclaim possibilities and challenge conformity.
No longer is it possible for Christians to occupy positions of power from which we may govern the state, making windows in the souls of our neighbours and dictating how others may live.
Nor is it possible for Christians to retreat into an ideological fortress secure from all the contaminations of an inherently sinful world. Christians are called by God to proclaim the possibilities of a transformed, redeemed world where justice, righteousness and mercy abound like a river that never runs dry. A world where the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the homeless are housed, and justice prevails.
Christians for Independence should be proclaiming the possibilities of an independent Scotland. These are not going to be specifically “Christian” aspirations. Many of our aims of feeding the poor, provision of healthcare and housing and education for all and every other demand we make for a just (and godly) society are effectively shared by persons of good will irrespective of their ethnic, philosophical, religious or ethical background. But we as Christians called by Christ to proclaim his Gospel, though often divided by tradition and history, are united by the call of the Living Lord to be His people and to witness to the realities and challenges of the Kingdom into which He has called us.
“ Almighty God, we bring to you the nation of Scotland. We remember our historic record of seeking to be a kingdom which reflects your Kingdom.
We acknowledge our failures both as a community and as individuals, and seek your forgiveness.
At this time give to us, both as a nation and as individuals, the spirit to seek to restore this nation as a place of justice and of love, where showing care for the ecology of Your world and concern for the welfare of all Your people, we may know a rebirth of our nation among the nations of the world, to the blessing of all people and the glory of Your Name.
This our prayer we make in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ Who called St Andrew to His service and Who continues to call us to do His will. Amen.”