Lessons for ministry from the life of Thomas Boston #2 – denominational politics


This is the second in a series of five posts on lessons for ministry from the life and times of Thomas Boston.

Lesson #2 – Denominational decisions can have an unexpected and adverse effect on ministry.

Denominations make decisions which might seem to make sense at the time but later prove disastrous, both for the church as a whole and also for individual godly men, like Boston.  The young, newly trained pastor tried and failed several times to find a parish being blocked each time by the local presbytery, even when the congregation of the parish wanted him as their minister.  Andrew Thomson explains why:

Then one of the greatest blunders and most mischievous compromises which helped to vitiate the Revolution Settlement which re-established the Presbyterian Church and restored to her her former immunities, was the allowing as many of the Episcopal incumbents as were willing to accept the Presbyterian polity and form of worship, to continue their charges, and retain their emoluments.  Bishop Burnet declared, in terms which one would like to believe were somewhat over-coloured, that these conformists ‘were ignorant to a reproach, many of them openly vicious, and the worst preachers he ever heard.’  By a natural instinct, these men with their easy pliancy were almost certain to use their influence and secret manoeuvring and management against such a man as Boston, whose life and character were a standing rebuke and condemnation of theirs.  In seven different parishes where the popular voice, if left to its own free and unbiased choice, would have fallen upon our young evangelist with his expanding gifts and ardent zeal, these hostile forces dashes the cup from his lips.

This sort of fallout from denomination policy makes issues like the ones we face in the Church of England today important, not necessarily for our own ministry but the life of the church as a whole and its next generation of ministers.

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