Theological Forum

The Theological Forum was established by the General Assembly to resource, express, and challenge the theology that informs the life and work of the Church.

The Theological Forum's remit is:

a) To articulate and develop the doctrinal understanding of the Church in accordance with Holy Scripture and with reference to the confessional standards of the Church of Scotland

b) To express the theological vision of the Church in its worship, fellowship, witness, and mission in and beyond contemporary Scotland

c) To respond to particular theological requests as and when these arise from the General Assembly, the Council of Assembly, and the ecumenical partners of the Church

d) To draw to the attention of the General Assembly theological matters which the Theological Forum considers to be of pressing contemporary relevance

e) To stimulate wider theological reflection throughout the Church on key doctrinal, ethical, and apologetic matters through the provision of appropriate materials and other activities

Theological Forum membership, 2021-22

  • Rev Dr Liam Jerrold Fraser, Convener
  • Rev Dr John Carswell
  • Rev Dr Lynn McChlery
  • Rev Prof Paul Middleton
  • Rev Hector Morrison
  • Rev Dr Ruth Morrison
  • Professor Paul T Nimmo
  • Professor Glen Pettigrove
  • Dr Joshua Ralston
  • Ms Jennifer Stark
  • Rev Lance Stone
  • Dr Andrew Torrance

Contact for more information: Nathalie Mares MacCallum, Secretary to the Theological Forum, at nmaresmaccallum@churchofscotland.org.uk.

Westminster, Confessions and the Church

Following an instruction received from the 2018 General Assembly to review the status of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Theological Forum organised a conference titled Westminster, Confessions and the Church, which was held at New College on Wednesday 8th May 2019. The conference papers have since been published in the journal Theology in Scotland and are available in digital format at the University of St Andrews's Journal Website.

The Theological Forum presented its report ‘Westminster, Confessions and the Church' to the General Assembly of 2021 and recommended that it go to Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions for discussion, with the following questions:

(i) Do you favour any of the options laid out in sections 15-20?
(ii) Would you like to see any of the options combined?
(iii) Are there any further options you would suggest as a good way forward?
(iv) If you favour a set of creedal and confessional documents with which the Church would be in relationship, which documents would you like to see included? The texts described in section 13 are available under the 'Confessions of Faith' heading on this page for consideration, but other texts may be considered as well.
(v) If you favour a new statement of faith, what aspects of the Christian faith would you like to see explored within it?

The Theological Forum was invited in Deliverance 4 of its report to ‘facilitate knowledge of the Westminster Confession by producing video resources on the Confession to allow Church leaders and members to study the Confession if they so wished; such material to assist the Church in gaining an understanding of its subordinate standard and thus allow engagement with the consultation which the Forum seeks.' A video is now available to view above.

Confessions of Faith

The statements of the Church's faith can be found at our Statements of the Church's Faith page.

The confessions included below are referenced specifically in the Theological Forum's 2021 General Assembly report on the Westminster Confession of Faith. The PC USA's Book of Confessions is included for ease of reference only, and does not reflect the current confessional status of the Church of Scotland.

Five Marks of Mission

Communion

Interpretation of Scripture

Reports on Sexuality

Theological Forum discussion paper: Apologising for Historic Wrongs

At the 2021 General Assembly a Commissioner requested that the Theological Forum look at the theology of apologies, and in particular apologising for historical wrongs. The context includes societal discussions about institutional apologies for the treatment of those accused as witches, European involvement in and benefit from chattel slavery and the historical mistreatment of and prejudice towards minorities. The Convener of the Theological Forum committed to explore the issues involved.

The Theological Forum's paper is for discussion and reflection only, and does not make any concrete proposals in relation to particular historic wrongs.

The Faith Impact Forum's 2022 report addresses a Scottish Government statement of apology for the deaths of thousands of people accused of witchcraft in Scotland between 1563 and 1736. The report says the Forum: ‘appreciates the First Minister's statement, on International Women's Day, apologising for the way in which, predominantly women, were accused and condemned of witchcraft, and acknowledges that, often, the Church played a part in feeding the fury, and deeply regrets that to be the case."

The Church has a project looking at the legacy of slavery, which will report to the General Assembly of 2023.