Friday, 1 June 2012

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland/Sinn Fein Alliance

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has again shown her disregard for the innocent victims of terrorism from within that church by giving its full support to one of her ministers, Miss Lesley Carroll, holding reconciliation talks with the IRA's spokesmen, Sinn Fein.  My youngest brother, murdered by the IRA on 2nd June 1977 along with two other police officers, was a member of PCI, and was buried by that church. The 35th anniversary of his /their murders is tomorrow.

My problem is not that they are talking to Sinn Fein, difficult and all that that is; it is rather that that church has supported that actions of one of its ministers who went on ahead of any church decision (it would seem) and engaged in those talks with Sinn Fein.  She was clearly on a 'solo flight' which was then 'rubber stamped' after the event.  Or was she?

Further, Miss Carroll is well known for her liberal theology and her support of and involvement in liberal theology's child, unbiblical ecumenism.  She appears to have followed the liberalism of German philosopher Freidrich Hegel, and the equally liberal theology of German theologian Albrecht Ritschl.

While these men disagreed on many issues, what drew them together was their liberalism.  They saw the whole world as a process; and a process has no morals.  An act, on the other hand, is carried out by a responsible person, therefore has moral content to it.

No, my problem is not her/their talking to IRA/Sinn Fein; it is rather what it is they are saying to them.  The track-record of people from this philosophical and theological stable is to work on the basis of their being no right or wrong, that murder is not a moral matter and that there are rights and wrongs on both sides.

While acknowledging the latter point, I have great difficulties with the earlier points.  The Ten Commandments stand as eternal truth whose demands and prohibitions are always valid.  Those who commit murder on the pretext of it being an 'political act,' have broken the sixth commandment (Ex.20:13) just as the murderer of the Soham children, Ian Huntley, did.  'Political offences' are an integral part of this process that these people talk so much about.  They are by definition amoral, neither right nor wrong.

Given the liberal convictions of people like Miss Carroll, it is no surprise that they can regard the worst and most sophisticated terrorist machine in western Europe as involved in a process to free people from British oppression.  And they view the people who perpetrate such evils as those who ought to be respected.  They have to be 'liked' if they are to hear what we have to say, so we're told. 

What atrocities has this terror machine been involved in?  It has murdered a baby just a few weeks old as he was being wheeled through Strabane town by his young mother; it murdered a man in front of his wife and children as they sat together in the safety of their home; it shot its enemies at point blank range in the back of the head; it murdered police officers by shooting them in the back; it murdered people while at church; it murdered part-time soldiers as they were taking their leave of their wives; and on the list could go.

Yet this church has given its unequivocal backing to one of its ministers engaging in reconciliation talks with Sinn Fein.  Yet, very seldom if ever have these same religious people met with the victims of these terrorist thugs or listened to their pain.  They were careful to meet with those 'victims' who support the so-called 'peace process' (you see, process again!) and who support having IRA/Sinn Fein in the government of our land.  But they have not, to the best of my knowledge, met with those who are utterly opposed to such political arrangements.  Certainly Miss Carroll has never thought it worthwhile to meet with me or was interested enough to discover where I am coming from.  I know of many victims of IRA terrorism who have never been met by her and her like.

What needs to be said to IRA Sinn Fein?  This terrorist composite must be told that what it did, its acts, were totally indefensible and utterly unacceptable; the pain and suffering of their victims is irreparable and constant; their total disregard for laws that they did not accept was wrong and must be acknowledged as such; they have a moral responsibility to tell everything they know about who did what, to whom, how and when and why it was done, if true reconciliation is to be achieved.  Dr Michael Ignatieff stated that without acknowledgement any reconciliation that results is false.  I agree. 

But these do-gooders will do no such thing because they are involved in a process.  And in a process there is no right or wrong.

These 'former' IRA people must be called upon to relinquish the hold any republican oath has on them and volunteer all the information they have about the activities of their IRA comrades.  They must come clean about everything.  While an apology may be helpful to some, it is relevant so long as these people protect terrorist criminals whose acts they know about.  These people must be brought to a true and full acknowledgement of what they have done, and its guilt, and then the justice system must kick in and take these confessions to their proper legal conclusion.  As Dr P. T. Forsyth said so well, "Reconciliation ... has no meaning apart from a  sense of guilt..."

They must also put the Gospel to them that tells of how Christ died for the sins of the world, He died for humanity, and that if and when they turn to Him for forgiveness and salvation in true repentance and faith, He will forgive and save them.  Before there can be acceptance of these people by their victims, they must be accepted by God; and if God accepts them, no Christian has any right or reason not to accept them. 

If they talk to them about anything else, they will again have betrayed the innocent victims within their own church and those in other churches across the board who have been butchered by these lawless gangsters.

The Gospel is "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes," (Rom.1:16), including the IRA.  They have not heard the Gospel, obviously, or, if they heard it somewhere, have they rejected it.

Now is the time for them to accept and believe the Gospel and after a full confession of their sins to God through Christ alone, to receive God's forgiveness.  Once they have been reconciled to God in Christ, the major barriers will have then been removed for them to be reconciled to those they have irreparably offended and damaged.

Sadly, church appointees are not good at 'doing the Gospel.'

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Re-Defining Marriage?

The UK government is currently involved in a consultation to 'discover' the mind of UK citizens on the issue of re-defining marriage.  This appears to be a massive concession to the gay/lesbian/trans-sexual/bi-sexual lobby, and a drive to secure votes at the next general election.

In nature, this is immoral, and is nothing short of the promotion of sodomy.

This is the road to Nowhere.  Before we as a nation embark on the legalisation of sodomy, we ought to stop and think seriously about why this is being proposed, who is behind it and what the potential negative effects of such a move would be.  Government promises are not persuasive that Christian churches will be protected in the future against prosecution because currently Christian  businesses can be prosecuted for non-compliance with laws that are contrary to God's law, Christian churches can be deprived the use of Council premises for their worship services, (Norwich) and Christian parents are currently open to all kinds of accusations of abuse of their children.  So protection of the Christian faith is not guaranteed by this proposed change in legislation, despite government protestations to the contrary. 

Children are much better off being brought up in a stable family with father and mother; they do better educationally and are better adapted to society as a whole.  For children to know who their father and mother are is a tremendous blessing, as those who do not know their father will tell you.

Marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life.  Only this makes is a matter not to be entered into lightly, and emphasises that it is a permanent arrangement that can only be broken at great cost.

UK readers of this post are strongly encouraged to support The Coalition For Marriage petition. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Confessions are not Scripture - John M. Frame

The following statement from an introductory essay explaining the Reformed Faith caught my eye this evening and I want to share it with you.  It is very refreshing to see an undoubted 'reformed theologian' stating categorically that "Confessions are not Scripture."  They are not to be treated as infallible, nor are they to be regarded as "ultimately normative."

This is the great problem for churches and denominations that are basically unsure of what it is they believe.  They do not believe that Scripture is clear enough for churches or for individuals as to the fundamentals of the faith they profess, so they must have a 'confession' to keep everyone right.

Frame's suggestion that churches ought to be able to revise their confessions and creeds will raise hackles for some ultra-reformed men who see their confession as sacrosanct, untouchable.

Then for him to say that it must also be possible and permissible for members and officers to dissent from the creed within some limits. 

Frame is refreshingly honest and correct in what he says here, and is a view that I have subscribed to for many years.  So long as a man accepts the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the infallible Word of God and the only rule of faith and practice, how strict he is to any man-made confession is largely irrelevant.

When any confession is placed equal to, or, in practice higher than, the Scriptures, by any church, that church has become sub-orthodox because it has subverted biblical authority in the life of the church.  This also has the effect of making it all but impossible for the church to reform its life and witness according to the teaching of the Scriptures.

Read this paragraph and tell me what you think.

"Confessions are not Scripture, and they should not be treated as infallible or as ultimately
normative. Indeed, I believe it is important that in a church fellowship it be possible to revise the
creeds, and for that purpose, it must also be possible for members and officers to dissent from
the creed within some limits. Otherwise, the creed will, practically speaking, be elevated to a
position of authority equivalent to Scripture. A "strict" view of subscription in which ministers
are never permitted to teach contrary to any detail of the creed might be seen as a way to protect
the orthodoxy of the church. However, in my view, such a view is actually subversive
of orthodoxy, because it is subversive of biblical authority and sufficiency. Under such a form of
subscription, Scripture is not given the freedom to reform the church according to God's will.


Jim Elliot was a missionary who was murdered along with four missionary colleagues in South America in 1954.

One of the wise things that Jim wrote was this: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to keep what he cannot lose.”

How much we treasure what we cannot keep - worldly or material things.  And how little we value what we cannot lose - eternal things. 

It is all a matter of priorities, spiritual priorities. 

What are your priorities?  

What do you really value?  

What do you really value?
What do you really value?

Sunday, 27 May 2012


Now some of you reading this will lift an eyebrow or two, and no wonder.  Clerical dress being promoted by a reformed evangelical?  Yes.  And why not?  

Let me give you my reasons for this statement.  I can remember a day when every minister within the Presbyterian family of churches wore his clerical collar and many their pulpit robes.  That was also a day in which dignity in worship was observed.  The situation when a congregation met for the worship of God was a solemn and serious occasion.  It was not an occasion for levity and laxity.  The solemnity of the hour demanded the deepest reverence for what was being done.  Worshippers presented for worship at God’s house in a manner fitting for a visit to a king or queen.  The occasion was such that proper protocol was observed by all. 

Indeed, if these same people were to be presented to the Queen at Buckingham palace, they would ensure that they observed all necessary protocols.  They would be respectful and reverent and on their best behaviour.  Their mobile phone would be switched off in good time, so as not to upset the occasion.  They would wear their best clothes and spend time preparing to present themselves to the monarch.

Exactly the same goes for dress at work.  Many professionals are expected to dress 'professionally' for their work and even 'back-room' staff have to do likewise.  Teachers in schools would never dream of turning up to work the way some of them turn up for worship!

But not so today!  Modern Christians do not even dress as well to appear before Christ the King as they do to go to work.  Can you imagine a professional teacher turning up in school to teach his/her pupils in jeans and a sloppy tee-shirty?  The boss would not tolerate it.  There is much more respect for the one who pays the salary that there is for the Risen and Glorified Saviour Christ.

Now where has this all emanated from?  I must hold up my hands here and confess that I was in the trail of those who wore clerical dress less and less when I was in pastoral ministry.  My reason?  Oh, it was very spiritual and biblical; of course it was.  There was no distinctive dress in the New Testament, so the church today does not require it.  Simple.  Allied to this was the fact that non-evangelicals and anti-evangelicals within my denomination never failed to wear clerical dress, and I wanted to create some distance between myself and them.

What has been the knock-on effect of this position?  Well, when the ministers slowly but surely stopped wearing distinctive clerical dress, the people stopped slowly but surely wearing appropriate dress when presenting themselves before the Lord each Sunday.  Then, the minister wore shirt and tie, like every other man.  Then, he stopped wearing the tie and went with an open-necked shirt.  Then it degenerated into denims and trainers, and some even wear jog suits and trainers.

What have the people done?  Have they maintained the standards appropriate to appearing before King Jesus?  Hardly.  They have exceeded their ministers in wearing provocative clothing, not conducive to the worship of the triune holy God.  They sway and gyrate with modern upbeat tunes as they sing about the Cross on which the Saviour of the world suffered and bled and died.  Then they bring in the tom-tom drums to emphasise the beat; then the other noisy instruments that tend to dominate the worship – if that is what it can now be called. 

And the result?  Exactly what C. H. Spurgeon in the nineteenth century called the ‘downgrade.’  There has been an observable down grading of the importance and solemnity of public worship to such an extent that it became an opportunity for musicians to parade their gifts and hopefully be noticed by a promoter. 

The solemnity of the worship of God has disappeared from many churches, even amongst those that claim to worship Him properly.  It is no longer the holy thing it was when I was growing up.  Now it is more of a show, a talent competition, a variety concert. 

Then we wonder why God is not present with His people in the way we would like to see and experience.  We pray for Him to be present, but what we want Him at drives Him away.  But when He does turn up in our churches, He will again have to make a whip of cords and drive out what is displeasing to Him.

For all its other-worldliness value, clerical dress did maintain a level of decorum and sanctity in the sanctuary of God’s house, and we are greatly mistaken if we think otherwise.