Sunday, 12 December 2010

Worship Again!

It has been some time since I last posted a piece in The Reformed Faith. That is not to say that I have not been thinking about important issues, for I have. Indeed, I was reading a booklet written by Rev Dr Warren Porter, entitled, "Presbyterian Worship." An excellent and brief treatment of an important subject such as true worship is, which raises some interesting issues, issues that all Presbyterians ought to read and take seriously.

The one thing that I noticed in this booklet was that any departure from classical and historical Presbyterian understanding of worship was essentially 'will worship.' This is another way of worshipping in an idolatrous manner. To worship the 'will' is not to worship the living and true God. Not to worship God in a reverent and biblically warranted way is to place our will in the place of the Word of God. That is 'will worship.'

In today's unfaithful churches, we see this in almost every church that has adopted worldly modernism as its theological model. Finding a place of worship is like finding a needle in a haystack. You are either bombarded with African tom-tom drums (with their clear association with Voodoo), heavy rock drumming (designed to drive traditional worshippers out of the churches), or churches where the minister is bereft of any ability in preaching, etc. This sad situation is getting progressively worse, and the really depressing thing is, that even the church elders could not care less about the way God is to be worshipped. These are the men who are charged under God to look after the spiritual well-being of the congregations. Insofar as they allow strange worship to be offered to God in their congregations, to that extent they are not caring pastorally for their members. Even new elders in these churches have been so conditioned by past worldly practice that they are now unable to discern between what is biblical and what is not! They have been 'trained' how not to think matters through. Therefore, the churches in which they serve have been left open to the ravages of all kinds of aberrant teaching.

An example of this is the recent repudiation of their Presbyterian beliefs in preference for those of a Baptist system, by 'Presbyterians' who were extremely critical of my exposition of biblical worship, and my criticism of so-called contemporary worship. Not only so, but they were supported by other senior Presbyterians who attended their baptismal service.

The lesson is that when any church lives loosely to its doctrinal standards, it opens the doors to further defections from what they were set up to uphold.

When will Christians from the Reformed family wake up to what is being done before their very eyes, and in their name, and with their authority? When will they start to take their ordination vows seriously? When will they become men of honour and integrity, and challenge those who are seeking to destroy any true Christian worship and witness that remains? For me, and for the honour of Christ, the sooner the better!

Saturday, 10 July 2010


(Quotations, and comments on, are taken from Calvin’s Sermons on Micah, Farley, 2003, P&R).

For Christians of Reformed and Presbyterian conviction, the Genevan Reformed, John Calvin, is held in the highest esteem. His clear theological thinking has guided these believers down through the years, and his church practice is most agreeable to the Word of God.

In the following post, I have collected some opportune quotes from the Reformer with a view to helping Presbyterians better understand where their idea of worship came from, how Calvin crystallised this for them, and what we can learn from the Reformer's biblical teaching.

What Christian Presbyterians always remember is that worshiping and honouring God go together, p.34.

Calvin teaches that mankind is "full of pride and arrogance and cannot suffer anyone to reform them [it]." He continues by asserting that "the church itself is guilty of numerous abominations in the world. For it has become a haven of false pretence, no one daring to open his mouth in order to oppose what he knows to be wrong," p.34.

How apportune this is to today's unfaithful church on earth! The abominations that Calvin identifies include the 'haven of false pretence' in which many within the church engage. It is reminiscent of the Emperor's new clothes syndrome. Everyone knows that the pretence in which the church is willingly engaged is ridiculous and God-dishonouring, but who cares! The pretence in endemic within the churches today, and is seen in the way in which she pretends that all her members are Christians, that all her members are qualified to participate in the Lord's Supper, that all her members are very spiritual people, etc. So far-reaching is this religious pretence that it goes right to the very top of many of these churches, with senior people giving their willing and glad support to those in the membership who 'toe the line,' and do not challenge anything the leadership says! Indeed, many are so scared that they will not open their mouths to oppose what they know to be wrong.

Sadly, it matters not how orthodox any given church might think herself to be, for even the most theologically correct, as they perceive it, can fall into this ecclesiastical pretence, and all in a bid to save 'our church.' But to save 'our church' from what? It appears that this is not a difficult question to answer, for the evidence is everywhere apparent. The church has to be saved from, wait for it, the Gospel. And she has to be saved from those faithful prophets of God who see the Gospel in profoundly personal terms. The offense of the Cross is everywhere felt when the Gospel of God is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit. But because every church claims that all her members are true Christians, when that offense is felt, it is not the people who need help, but the preachers!

In many churches today, including the very evangelical ones, there are within their membership, and even holding office, fornicators, adulterers, liars, trouble-makers, mischievous, busy-bodies, unbelievers, Gospel-haters, God opposers, the disobedient, lazy, thieves, blasphemers, filthy minded, foul mouthed, etc. They are all there!

Yet all the churches will stand by those who have been accepted into their membership, and woe betide anyone, ANYONE, to even suggest otherwise!

Calvin, in this passage, refers to the Catholic church, but his comments are applicable to all who forsake, either wittingly or unwittingly, the revealed ways of God as to how He is to be worshipped. As Calvin teaches, when God condemns Samaria and Jerusalem for their unfaithfulness, not only is Rome included, but so also is so much of 21st century church ‘worship.’ It all stems from the same filthy and poisonous root – departure from God and His revealed will in Scripture.

Let us never assume that departure from God's revealed will in Scripture is anything other than a most serious sin. How lightly the church takes such sin today! How she glosses over what is apparent to everyone else! And to substitute her own fallen notions for the pure Word of God is folly indeed. And it is this very sin that is so evident in all those who have perverted the worship of God. To be guided by the mind of God is all we need, but to seek our guidance from the mind of man is to be eschewed at all costs.

Calvin understands the “high places” in Micah 1:5b as serving as substitutes for worship, p.35. “There was scarcely a nook or cranny that did not house some religious paraphernalia. Everywhere one spoke of worshipping God. But we know what Jeremiah thought of all this. ‘Did God command you to do these things? No! For God does not wish to be worshipped in accordance with human fancy.’” And none of them was commissioned or sanctioned by God! [Jer.6:19-20; 7:21]. Hence, whenever we insist on approaching God in a manner that we find good, we must not suppose that God is required to accept it. For anything that God has not commanded us to do, or has put his stamp of approval upon, results in wages that can be collected only in hell, p.36.

What a stern warning this is to those professing Christians and church leaders who imagine that their ideas are more worthy than what God's mouth says! The arrogance of sinful man to even presume to use the precious Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to silence the Gospel of Christ, is profound, and most worrying. And this did not only happen in Calvin's Geneva, it is happening before our very eyes today, if only we had the discernment to see it. So whatever becomes for us a substitute for worship, especially if it is carried out in the name of worship, is a "high place."

Calvin adds that when Rome sets up shrines and altars to the saints, as when the Jews set up altars to Baalism, they thought they were worshipping God. But they did not realise that God rejected them and condemned their practice, p.36.

The logical conclusion is that if God condemned the Jews for their perverted worship, and the Romans for theirs, how can we expect to escape if we think that God will accept our “human inventions that we use as a means of worshipping God”? “If God has not required such a form or act, he will reject it as an abomination,” (p.36).

Well must the church of today heed this timely and urgent warning. For evangelicals to be involved in "an abomination" is a perilous thing; and sadly, many are thus involved, and do not or can not or will not see it.

“Such abominable worship is a form of idolatry, a sin that is detestable in the sight of God,” p.37. To worship the true God in a false way is really to worship an idol. Is this what modern day evangelicalism within the 'reformed' churches is actually doing? I fear it is. Hence, my constant calls to the church not to offer to God "strange fire," to desist immediately for idolatry, and to stop offering to the living God what is an abomination.

This “leads only to confusion,” and God has promised to destroy them all. “We see the low esteem with which our Lord views all attempts to fashion questionable forms of worship to honouring him,” adding that “humanity abuses the name of God.” “While worshipping their idols, mankind completely reject what the living God himself has ordained. For we cannot invent forms of worship, based on our fantasies, without at the same time inventing a new god." …Would you not agree that [this] “transforms God into something carnal like themselves,” p.37.

Modern churchianity has, in effect, invented a new god, at whose shrine many bow down and worship every Sunday. It is not the God of the Bible they worship, nor is it the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Moses would not recognise this modern god, nor would the prophets, or the apostles, or even the Son of God Himself. The godly men of the Gospel in the early church, the Reformers, the Huguenots, the Puritans, and the early Methodists, both Calvinistic and Arminian, would fail to recognise this modern invention that is worshipped by modern 'hippies.'

“We should not be astonished to discover that God both rejects and condemns all forms of worship invented by mankind.” Why is there no felt presence of the Lord in many services of worship? Why is that hush of God's nearness absent from our services? Why can 21st century worshippers claim to have been in God's presence, then talk about everything and anything when leaving that service? It is because whoever they imagined was there, it was not the God of consuming fire!

And this can only happen when the church departs from the clear word of God for our sanctification. Were the church of today to keep to the true doctrine, then all such inventions would cease, regardless of cost.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Gospel, The Church, and the Denomination

Gospel men love the Church, but denominational men love the denomination first and most! To love the denomination is not necessarily to love the church of Jesus Christ, though these should be the same. Love for the denomination that is so strong and obsessive that the truth is no longer welcome within its bounds, is, sadly, not a rare thing.

Men of the Word love the Church of Jesus Christ, but it does not necessarily follow that denominational men do likewise. Men of the Word desire to see the Church of Christ transformed increasingly in her life and witness into a Bride fit for the Bridegroom. They love the Church so much, so dearly and so tenderly, that they will expend whatever energy is needed to see her perfected and made fit for the great wedding day. But denominational men see no imperfections that need concern them. They see their own denomination as the perfect embodiment of the Christian Church, a denomination so righteous that it needs no repentance.

Men of the truth love the Church with a deep and deepening passion and want only her spiritual well-being; but denominational men are "at ease in Zion," and reject any suggestion that she can be improved spiritually. Of course, when you believe that your denomination is the purest expression of a biblical church in all its aspects to be found anywhere, then to even hint at her spiritual improvement is tantamount to heresy. To hint in this way is to assert that she is not perfect, and that is anathema to every denominational man, regardless of how pure he believes his 'church' to be.

Men of biblical and theological principle love the Church with an undying affection, and want to play their small part in leaving her in a better spiritual state than when they found her. Of course, denominational men frown at the very thought of the church/denomination to which they belong and in which they minister having to be improved spiritually.

Holman Hunt's memorable picture of the figure (Christ) standing outside the door (of the sinner's heart), and having no handle with which to open the door on the outside but only on the inside, suggests that the Church has a responsibility to welcome the Lord of the Church inside and into every aspect of her life, and not to leave Him standing on the outside. How easy it is to see this as an exclusively evangelistic appeal to the sinner to admit Christ into the heart while He is there standing at the door and knocking to gain entrance.

But the application of this principle comes much closer to home. In Rev.3, John describes Christ standing outside the church, knocking on the door, because He wants to enter and be welcomed by His redeemed people. In the tepid Laodicean church, with all its lukewarmness, the members and leaders have driven Christ, the Church's only Lord, King and Head, out of her midst. And He is ready to 'spew' or 'vomit' her out of His mouth! She turns His stomach! This church is so 'steady,' so 'unchanging,' so 'loyal to her historical and theological past' that she has become fossilised, so encrusted with years of unbending tradition, that she is now incapable of being renewed. So set in her ways is she that any thought of spiritual renewal or theological reformation is out of the question.

But 'my people would have it so,' it would appear. The one thing they say they want is for Christ to rule as the rightful Lord and Head of the Church, but in reality, if we take that too seriously, and He comes in, then our church will be no longer under our control, but His - and we can't have that! We and our forefathers have been in complete control of the denomination, and it has served us very well, so we do not want this Christ of yours to start exercising His rule in our church. "My people" still want to 'lord it over the flock,' instead of being its humble and obedient servants.

Can such a situation be changed? Can it be reversed? It all depends on what you mean, I can hear you say. If mere denominational men continue to control the church according to their dictates, or diktats, then the future is bleak, so far as any reformation or revival of the church is concerned. Yes, they will perform a 'holding operation' with their 'safe hands,' but they will not instill any spiritual life into dead denominations, of which there are plenty. Ministers will have to learn to take their responsibilities much more seriously, and be discerning about 'what a Christian is,' and 'how does one become a Christian.' The battle seems to have been lost at this basic level; and, like Elisha's question as to where exactly the axe head fell, the church has to return to where the problem arose, and start from that uncomfortable vantage point.

But if the denominational leaders do not even realise that the axe head has fallen off, but are still wondering why they are not seeing more true spiritual fruit for their labours, then the situation is indeed critical. What must be done in this situation? First, realise the true situation that confronts you, then work at the remedy from there. Second, have the courage to restore the lost 'axe head,' for without this, no effective and God-honouring work can be done. Third, be determined to see the matter through to its conclusion.

This is most costly, you understand. The denominational authorities simply will not stand for it. Why? Because if you are correct in your diagnosis, the implication is that they must be wrong. And if they are wrong, then you will have denuded them of the infallibility in which they took refuge - against the Word of God. And that will never do, will it?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Huguenots and Ballyronan

Northern Ireland owes a lot to the Huguenots, those valiant and courageous French Protestants, who were forced to flee their homeland because of the persecution of Louis XIV, King of France. Some people know about the great industry that they brought to Lisburn, where linen was expertly used to make garments and other necessities. Indeed, the Irish Republic owes much to Huguenot ingenuity and influence.

But who knows of the role the Huguenots played in South Londonderry, in Ballyronan to be precise? These followers of the teaching of the reformer from Geneva, John Calvin (1509 – 1564), played a most significant role in the development of business in our area.

Why did these French Protestants find themselves in Ballyronan?

Let me give you a brief local history lesson. The growth of Calvinism in France in the 16th century led to a long period of persecution and religious wars, which only ended when the Protestant leader Henry of Navarre changed his faith in order to become King.

As King Henry IV, he signed the Edict of Nantes guaranteeing the Huguenots freedom of conscience and worship and equality with Catholic citizens in all civil offices and professions.

His grandson, Louis XIV, signed its revocation in 1685. Many Huguenots remained in France and became nominal Catholics, but most held to their faith.

More than 200,000 however risked imprisonment or escaped the gallows by fleeing abroad. Most fled to Holland, many to Switzerland and Germany and some to Denmark. About 40,000 to 50,000 escaped to England where they joined those that had settled there earlier. About 10,000 came to Ireland and joined a smaller number who settled here in the 1660s during the years of growing persecution. Along with them came ministers of the French Reformed Church.

Jean Gaussen, a Languedoc merchant fled to Geneva in 1685 with his five sons. His son David wanted to settle in England and while traveling in a fishing boat with his wife, a maid and another lady, a storm forced them to shelter in Carlingford Lough.

They were shipwrecked and lost everything except their lives. They settled in Newry where David became a prosperous merchant. His only son, also named David, freighted the first large vessel from Newry when the ship canal was opened in 1770. He married Margaret Hogg the daughter of Dr Hogg from Moneymore.

Their son David, born 1753, settled in Ballyronan with his wife and three sons in 1788, having bought the business of Thompson and Maxwell. As well as extending the quay, the Guassens established a distillery (1824) and a brewery (1828 or 1830), also a school for girls. The steamer ‘Lady of the Lake’, built for David Guassen in the 1820s, operated a freight passenger service from Ballyronan to Lurgan to connect with the train to Belfast. Ballyronan was once a thriving little port on the west side of Lough Neagh, largely the result of the enterprise of the Gaussen family of Huguenot descent. The town was in the Salters' of London estate.

The family had a great influence on the life of the village of Ballyronan until the last member of the family, Arthur, went to England in the late 1920s.

Magherafelt also had three William Gaussens who lived in Meetinghouse Street, The Diamond, and in Town parks areas of the town, and also in Castledawson, one of the Gaussens lived. In the 1910 census, A. D. A. Gaussen, JP, worked as a coal merchant and importer of Indian meal in Magherafelt. So the name continued for many years in the nineteenth century.

Our area of south Londonderry is encouraged to remember our debt to the Huguenots. Their industry provided employment for many people. But the faith of these people also played a crucial role in the development of the area. They brought with them their Calvinistic faith, vague external memories of which are still to be seen in this area. Their simply, yet dignified, form of worship and church government was pleasing to the God they served, and their clear Gospel preaching had its life-changing impact on those who heard it.

How marvelous it would be were men of Huguenot spirit and conviction to live and work in our area once again! What they believed – Christ is the Redeemer of the world, and how they lived - giving dedicated labour in the service of their fellowman, is surely what we need today.

Acknowledgement of much of this information which was found at

Friday, 9 April 2010

Whoever said theological liberalism was wrong?

Many theologically reformed conservatives hold, and sometimes even articulate, this viewpoint.

But sadly, they no longer believe that it is unchristian and, in essence, antichristian. Their opposition to this erroneous system is pure rhetoric to keep the troops on side; they no longer believe that theological liberalism is spiritually toxic, and Christ-rejecting.

Further, it is evidence, if any was required, of four facts:
(1). Lack of love for the souls of men
(2). Lack of love for the well-being of the church of Christ.
(3) Lack of love for the truth of the Gospel, the Gospel of redeeming grace.
(4). Failure to value the truth and to expose and oppose soul-damning, God-offending error.

But why do reformed evangelicals fail in their duty to uphold the Gospel? Well, peace at any or no price comes to mind, as does the embracing, wittingly or unwittingly, of the current philosophy of inclusivism. Also, the fact that many of these brethren minister within theologically compromised denominations where liberals have sold their philosophy to their evangelical colleagues, who have dutifully bought it - after all, they want to be 'good churchmen' at all costs and not jeopardise their 'promotion prospects' within the church for anything.

But they always keep their eye on their paymasters. 'He who pays the piper calls the tune!' Their main concern is to keep their homes, protect their pensions, and ensure income to provide for their families - all laudible things in themselves.

But where the very credibility of the Gospel and the honour of Christ are concerned, then other considerations kick in. Or, do they? If we take a look at Christian history, we'd be painfully challenged. For in the olden days, Christian ministers and members were single-minded in their commitment to Christ and the Gospel. They did not even consider their own lives as precious, when God's precious Gospel is being attacked and/or distorted. These valiant servants of Christ, who know who their Master is, live only for His honour in this world. Where Christ's honour is being attacked, they did not sit back and say or do nothing. They acted, they spoke up, they made their voices heard. And they were hated by the church authorities as a result.

What a rebuke these good men were in the sides of their 'ecclesiastical superiors'! So much so that the church authorities were provoked into action against them.

How seldom do we hear of this happening in today's lukewarm church! Why? Because few care enough to make a fuss! They do not care about the souls of sinners, the church of Christ, the Gospel of God, or the difference between truth and error. Nothing matters today, least of all these things that really matter! Nothing that would involve standing up for Christ and the Gospel.

Indeed, it is yet another example of reformed evangelical dishonesty. When theologians are prepared to distort the teaching of the Bible through dodgy exegesis, in order to defend some sort of theological orthodoxy, then anything becomes fair game. If the Gospel of Christ is dishonoured, why ought anything be held to be sacrasanct? If Christ's words can be perverted to suit some scholastic purpose, then why ought there to be any concern about theological liberalism? Can not the same intellectual reasoning be employed to defend liberalism as a true and accurate exposition of the Gospel?

On reflection, it appears that this is, indeed, the case. The sheer breadth of the church's (mis)understanding of the everlasting Gospel allows for theological pluralism. It is argued that because we are limited in our grasp of the truth, we must be 'gracious' enough to accommodate other men's understanding of the truth. Here, grace is used (dishonestly) to allow liberalism to be embraced as a true and accurate exposition of the Gospel.

Another defense of theological pluralism within the church is the view that the true evangelicals are the upholders of the truth, so why should they leave? No mention is made of contending for the truth, or of cleansing the church of known and identified theological impurity. While liberals would be quick to take action against evangelicals (as history testifies to so clearly), thus demonstrating the illiberality of the liberals, reformed men will not do that. They are prepared to tolerate error within the church.

Now why is this the case? First, they no longer believe that such a category exists, therefore you cannot move against a non-existent spectre. Sounds reasonable.

Second, the peace of the church is more important than truth.

Third, there are so many other common enemies to fight, that we do not believe in starting inter-nicene wars within the Body of Christ in the world. The sad reality is that this is just an excuse for doing nothing, for nothing is ever done so far as fighting these supposed enemies is concerned.

Fourth, the visible unity of the church on earth must be protected at all costs. Liberals and ecumenicals of all theological shades hold this view. Appeal is made to Jn.17 and Eph.4 as defense.

However, dishonest exegesis comes to the aid of the ecumenicals. Make Scripture say what you want it to say, and you're home and dry!

No, theological liberalism has been embedded happily within those churches that boast of a growing number of evangelicals. The latter do not seem to have any difficulty regarding as minsterial colleagues those men (and women) who essentially deny the Gospel. Now, there's an interesting anomaly, is it not?

Friday, 26 March 2010


Spirituality can be interpreted very widely, and refer to:
First, it is understood as any kind of positive mental self-talk, such as is common within the counseling industry; second, it is viewed as a kind of pietism that is divorced from everyday life; the kind that does not want to engage with what is happening in the outside world; and third, there is the reformed understanding of spirituality which is something that is earthed in a particular way of living everyday life. Reformed spirituality is how we live our lives. This is its link with integrity.

What do we mean by ‘integrity’?

Honesty & wholeness in approach to life and work.

Truthfulness in all you do, irrespective of circumstances.

Being reliable and trustworthy in what you do – this is guaranteed only by what you are!

Attitude of respect – to the data you’re working with, and to other authors. If you disagree with them, fine; just say so, and give reasons. But do not put a ‘spin’ on their work in order to arrive at a predetermined result.

Integrity is about respecting other people and their efforts. E.g, when the big petrochemical companies fund research into its effects on the environment, they will ensure that only those data are used that support their stated policies and presuppositions. Or, when Pharmaceutical companies commission research into the effects of the drugs they are developing, they will come up with appropriate findings for them, findings that endorse their new product. Sadly, this modus operandi is not confined to the multinationals – you will find the same modus operandi being employed in theological research and activity. When some theologians undertake theological and/or historical research, they tend to agree beforehand what they want the results to be, and then go looking for data to support their presuppositions and agenda.

Doing your work to the best of your ability – not in a slovenly way, but carefully and accurately.

Dealing fairly with material, resources, data – to illustrate this, let me tell you of a young former colleague of mine, in his undergraduate days, was conducting a scientific experiment. His supervisor told him to ignore any data that do not accord with what you expect the result to be. Or again, I have just completed a review of a school textbook for GCSE History and which dealt with the Struggle for Peace in Northern Ireland. This book plays fast and loose with well-documented historical data. There is a clear republican agenda throughout this textbook, demonstrated by the choice of data that was used and the use to which this was put, a practice wholly unworthy of an academic historian. Data being skewed to say what researchers or their academic supervisors or their funders or the people who commission the research want to prove is not just unworthy, but is wholly unacceptable. Such a practice is agenda-driven, not data-driven. BUT, and sadly, this also happens wholescale within reformed evangelicalism. Theologians all too often fly in the face of the facts, data. Their attitude? Why allow the facts to get in the way of a good story! Integrity is about reading material with an attitude of ‘judgment day honesty.’ Especially is this the case when dealing with the Scriptures.

Integrity is also about dealing fairly with the authors of those resources. Character or idea assassination is most serious, because it is bearing false witness against your neighbour, Ex.20:16 . It is law-breaking.

Integrity demands that we to not mis-represent what others have done or written just to make a point – point here is about accurate ethics!

Why be bothered by this subject? Because of the absence of genuine integrity within academic circles. This surprised me, thinking, as I did, that academia, at least, was an honest broker. It is not! A friend of mine who lectured in one of our universities was told not to write as he did about terrorism in NI, because his big boss did not want to jeopardize getting his knighthood! He got the knighthood, and my friend had to leave his post! Integrity?

In my recent research into reconciliation, I was told that if I wanted to get a good mark, I’d be advised to change the content of my submissions so that it would please my external examiner! I refused, had a rather hot argument with my lecturer, continued to refuse after being ‘threatened,’ and received my highest mark of all my work. The piece was on the Atonement. God said, “Those who honour Me, I will honour.”

These principles of truth and honesty are recognized as fundamental to any community of scholars, teachers and learners. Researchers, and their supervisors and assessors, must encourage adherence to the principles of truth and honesty, because many supervisors appear to be agenda-driven.

Integrity of scholarship is essential for an academic community, but more so for the Christian church. The theory is that Universities expect that both faculty and students will honour these principles and in so doing protect the validity of University intellectual work.

To help clarify the issue further, let me draw your attention to the opposite of integrity:

It is having a divided mind, or the absence of wholeness. Such a man is “unstable in all his ways.”

Deceitfulness – having the same characteristic as sin. The Bible talks about ‘sin’s deceitfulness.’

Fraudulence – we have the serious fraud office (SFO) within government; perhaps we need something similar within the church. This is about mis-appropriating what God has revealed in His word, and using it for an altogether different purpose to the one He had intended. It is about devaluing truth.

Lying – being false in what you say about other people, and in how you interpret their words. It is about the deliberate mis-representation of the views and/or words of others, and of their character!

Corruption – to corrupt something is to alter its original form into something completely different. To change the meaning of what someone has written into something that is more pleasing to the writer, is to corrupt that person’s words! E.g, to say that in Jn.3:16, when John talked about God loving the world, it is to corrupt this text to make it say that it means that God loved the world of the elect! If John has intended to say that, he would have done so! He was an intelligent man! It is also to impugn his character as the apostle of Christ – a serious sin to commit. Or, because God says He hates “the workers of iniquity,” that in no way implies that he does not show love to all men! If He did not, no one would be saved! This is to put a ‘spin’ on to God’s precious truth, and change its essential nature. And that is corruption.

Treachery – is about betrayal. To betray someone is to be disloyal to them, unfaithful. Very painful experience! I’ve had this in the church, and many who followed Ian Paisley feel enormously betrayed by him in NI. Remember, you can only be betrayed by those you trusted! Betrayal is an attack on faith and trust.

Duplicity – consider the way politics operates in the UK, especially in NI where DUPlicity is reaping its rewards even as I speak. They might think they’ll get away with it, but not; come back to bite them!

Cheating – is to act or work in an unethical manner. It is to be immoral in the truest sense of that word, and is a very low form of behaviour, which causes enormous hurt, and smashes trust, which is the glue that gives society its cohesion.

At the end of the day, integrity – at all levels - is a deeply personal characteristic, and one that has to do, not with our relationship with men primarily, but with our relationship with God. It’s about doing our work as under the watchful eye of our heavenly Father. I referred earlier to ‘judgment day honesty;’ integrity is about living our lives with an eye on that great and terrible day of the Lord, when all the books will be opened, and God’s gracious rewards given out. Integrity is about living to please God in all things, however imperfectly we might do that. In Christian work, it is about not just acknowledging Scripture as our highest authority, but demonstrating this principle in our life and work. It’s about keeping our eye on the ball continually, and remaining focused on pleasing Christ at all times.

We are called to live and act with integrity as Christian believers, and the challenge for us today is to make sure that we present our work, not just to men, but to God, with a clear and good conscience.

Temptations will come, pressures will be applied to us, enticements will be held out to us; but our Christian duty and Christian privilege is to put Christ and His word first in our lives, and not be seduced by such plaudits.

As I close, let me say this to those who might be considering post-graduate study; if you do not have a reliable external mentor, do not undertake such study until you have many years of life-experience behind you. Why? Because if you do this without trustworthy external support and life-experience, the temptation will be to get your Master’s or Doctorate at any cost, and capitulate to the academic whims of your supervisor. Only undertake such study if you have the support structures in place that are external to the institution in which you are studying.

In academic work, integrity is everything. Compromise on this, and you will never be able to claim more than partial integrity, whatever that monstrosity might be! You serve Christ, you love Christ; He loves you and died for you. Yes, you will make mistakes and you will fail and fall; but don’t knowingly betray your Saviour for anything! For “he who honours Me, I will honour,” says our LORD. None of us can afford to be less than this! And God will be pleased with us, and our work.

Friday, 26 February 2010

The good pagan described

The religion of the 'good pagan' is of purely human, this-worldly, origin and orientation. He calls it 'Christian,' but it has no need of Christ as Saviour and Lord, therefore has nothing to do with the historic and biblical Christian faith.

It is centred on self - how good he is and how much better he is than many Christians. It glories in the kind of life lived with only a formal relation to God, but no dependence upon Him.

His is a morality that owes nothing to Christ or on what He did on the Cross, and everything to himself. Christ simply does not enter the equation.

Religious observances are purely outward, there being no heart in them. They are religious rites that are not right.
When he sings praise, this is a form of enjoyment much akin to what is sung in the bar, only this is religious singing, the other is not. He knows the words and likes the tunes, but beyond that there isn't much.

When (or if) he reads the Bible, it bears no more relation to him than if it was a John Wayne comic story. Its just another religious book! Indeed, the Bible is not a much read Book. Different from the newspapers, including the notorious Sunday papers.

When he gives, it is to ensure the minister calls and 'says a wee prayer' when he or a family member is ill, and also to ensure two other important things: that he is buried by the church, and is assured a place in heaven.

In short, his religion has no place for Christ, no place for His death on the Cross as mankind's only hope for eternity, no personal relationship with Him, has never trusted Him personally for his salvation, and in fact just does not need Him or His righteousness. His own righteousness is sufficient to satisfy God at the judgement Day, he argues. So good is this pagan that it never occurs to him that Christ died for him because his own righteousness is like "filthy rags" in His sight, and therefore no good to be accepted by God.

But he just cannot or will not see this. The 'god of this world' (Satan) has blinded the eyes of those who believe not, so that they cannot believe! Their blind unbelief has been used by Satan to keep them from believing. But the responsibility will rest squarely on their shoulders when they wake up in Hell.

So right are they in their own eyes that they actually despise those who claim to have been saved by Christ. And why do they despise other believers? Because in their self-righteous hearts, they despise the truly righteous Christ Himself.

In order to justify himself, he resorts to some known imperfection in another's life, of which there are many, both the seen and the unseen. He thinks this comparison justifies his paganism. But it does not!

The modern pagan is a stranger to God, and puts down any goodness in him to his own works, his own religious efforts. It had all to do with himself, and nothing to do with Christ. A man who has no place in his heart for Christ is not Christian, whatever else he might imagine his religion to be. It is not God's revealed religion in the Scriptures or in Christ, therefore cannot, by definition, be Christian.

As a stranger to God, he is obviously a stranger to grace. For God is the God of all grace. And if a man is a stranger to grace, he has no part or parcel in the pilgrim band that is on its way to Heaven. He is a lost soul!

The pagan's religion is one of arrogant self-satisfaction. He is so pleased with himself that for anyone to suggest differently is ridiculed. He accepts that he is s sinner like everyone else, but has never been brought to see himself as a lost, hell-deserving sinner. Never has he viewed his sin as divine wrath-provoking. His religion does not allow him to see the God he claims to worship as being angry at his rebellion against Him, so imagines, vainly, that all is well with his soul.

In fact, it is questionable if he even believes he has or is a soul. He has taken in the absurdity proffered by some GPs that they have never seen a soul in any person they examined or dissected. Such smart-alec talk is unimpressive, and tells us nothing about the facts, but plenty about these self-styled experts in everything.

Have these 'professionals' ever seen electricity? No. But they have seen the positive and negative effects of it and would never dream of being irresponsible in its use.

Such 'smart' pagans lead other 'good' pagans astray because the latter believe that since these 'professonals' know a lot about a little, they assume that they know everything about everything. This is patently untrue. In fact, they know nothing about the things that matter most - a sinner's right relationship with God through Christ alone.

Sadly, all 'ministers' are not good spiritual guides, although this is what they are supposed to be. Some are excellent guides on spiritual matters, and are indispensable to a person's total well-being. But that's a discussion for another day.

The Suffering Servants of Christ

A saint cannot serve if he is not prepared to suffer ... because all servants have a cross that comes with their calling. So wrote the Puritan William Gurnall in 1662.

One of the clear qualifications of a calling to the Christian ministry is the willingness to suffer for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. The Gospel is God's 'change agent' in the world, and change will be contested at every point by that God-defying world. Change is an unwelcome intrusion into a comfortably sinful world (and church), and will be resisted at every stage once change has been proposed.

But the called minister will have already embraced the hostile resistance to him and his message, and be prepared to suffer for it, long before he has been ordained to the Christian ministry. He will have 'considered' and 'reckoned' what ordination to the Christian ministry will cost, and concluded that he is prepared to accept the attendant suffering.

This suffering will be completely misunderstood by the unbelieving world, and also by the unbelieving church, a fact that, in itself, adds to the minister's suffering. Sometimes, he will misunderstand it himself, and even his own family, his nearest and dearest, will not understand the situation. As Gurnall do rightly says, 'Whoever may be the instrument of trouble to a saint, the sword is always in God's control.'

But, if he is not prepared to suffer, even greviously, he has disqualified himself from service in Christ's Kingdom! If he is not prepared to walk the same road his Master trod, service for his Master is impossible! Service in Christ's Kingdom is predicated on daily and willing cross-bearing. How sad and pathetic are those usurpers in Christ's church who seek 'peace at any price, or none,' for the sake of 'getting on' with their people and in their chosen 'career'! How cowardly are those who run close to the world in some vain attempt to gain and hold its worldly young people! It is clear from this that such men are not serving the Christ Who revealed Himself in the Scriptures, but another Christ made in their own image. He is not the Saviour Who suffered and died for the world on Calvary. Nor is He the Lord who told His disciplines that if they refused to take up their cross daily and follow Him, they could not be His disciples. He was
disqualifying them for service in His Kingdom.

Oh, how sweet and disturbing a thing it is to realise that it is the Lord Who determines the qualifications for service, and Who will remove from His service those who do not meet His criteria.

That does not necessarily mean, of course, that men who once served in the church and are no longer there, have been removed from the church by the church's Lord because they were disqualified for service! Hardly. It is often the case that the gracious Lord showed His compassion and tender care to His faithful servants who were suffering at the hands of the church because of her unwillingness to serve her suffering Lord! To follow the Lord against all pressure is to display a humility and obedient spirit that is most rare!

As Gurnall says, if there is no cross in a man's calling, the calling is absent. Ministers who are at ease in the Christian ministry are as ugly as members who are at ease in Zion.

Hence every minister can test his calling by the presence of the Cross. Those men who do not preach the Cross - and I'm not talking about preaching 'about' the Cross, for there is a difference- will never experience what it means to suffer as a Christian minister. If the suffering is because of faithfulness to the self-crucifying ministry of the cross-centred Gospel, then that man has been truly and divinely called to the work of the ministry; but if that man has concocted an admixture of Gospel and world, and suffers for that, then he needs to make speedy and radical amends. But if he has forsaken the Cross for a life of ease, then he had better examine the foundations once again; his ministry is resting on very shaky foundations. And who suffers as a consequence? Himself, his congregation and the entire Christian church worldwide.

In conclusion, if the Cross is absent, so also is the calling. If God's servants actually flee the Cross - and such is unknown within even reformed evangelicalism - then they are usurping the place God had set apart for His true servants. No minister can serve the Suffering Saviour who does not himself suffer for that Saviour.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Impurity of Worship

I am disappointed that your reply to my genuine concerns was so dismissive, but then again, 'why change the habit of a lifetime,' as they say.

It is not "the praise in XXX" that disturbs me; XXX can do whatever it likes under your leadership! Its when that 'praise' pretends to be "the worship of Almighty God," Whose nature is revealed in the Decalogue ... that causes me great concern.

On this morning's sermon, I think what you preached has highlighted in a way that I probably could not do, what I was trying to explain, and which I believe to be biblically valid. But you are actually breaking your own counsel and the teaching of the second commandment which you so ably expounded.

However, your application left a lot to be desired. When you stated that this commandment warns us against elevating imagination above revelation, I could not have agreed more. But can it not be argued that the worship practice in your church could only be as it is precisely because you have elevated your imagination above revelation!

Further, if in your reply where you are affirming that you "do not anticipate any radical change in the praise in the forseeable future," and, given the context of my email (and correct me if I am wrong), but what I think you are saying is this:
* That XXX, under your ministry, will continue to run its evening service an 'evangelical night
* The 'noise' that passed for worship and which was deafening, will continue;
* The thumping of drums which was almost unbearable, will also continue, and be disruptive;
* That the singing about the Cross to boogy-woogy, rock, rave-type accompaniment, and which
was grossly offensive, will be a regular part of the 'worship of God in XXX;
* That "the ways of the world" which are used to 'worship' the holy God, will still be used;

What this suggests to me is that you will continue to offer 'strange fire' to the Lord, while seeking His blessing upon what you do. Do you honestly think that this pleases Him?

Let me ask you these questions? Show me from Scripture how this kind of 'worship' can be argued for? Can you provide me with the evidence from the history of the church in her best times, that this is what God has blessed? Can or will you show me from the Directory of Public Worship that your church claims to accept, how this kind of 'worship,' promoted AND DEFENDED in XXX, is agreeable to what you, and your denomination, have accepted?

Rev. X, I am not against contemporary hymns being used in the worship of God, so long as they are theologically sound, and not of the sloppy, sentimental irritatingly repetitive variety, of which there is plenty. There are excellent modern hymns that are evocative and which teach biblical truth.

But remember, church worship is not supposed to be dictated to by the worldly youth culture of the day, as appears to be the case in your church. Its mandate comes from a much higher Source - the Holy Scriptures.

Nor am I advocating the singing of psalms exclusively; it is a concern that a so-called 'reformed' church, such as PCI claims to be, rarely sings the Psalms, and when it does, it appears to be a kind of 'tokenism' to those who revere the Word of God in worship. But the Psalms are Scripture, yet you seem to object to sing these Scripture songs, except in the rarest of occasions.

Rev. X, it grieves me to have to write this to you, as a dear brother minister and a brother in Christ. But when my Saviour's Name and Honour are being attacked 'in the house of His friends,' I cannot stand back and say nothing. I feel compelled to speak about this, and to use whatever social networking facilities I can to get my message across, because of your failure to listen to them. As in educational theory, you know when a learner has learned something when they start doing it! When listening leads to doing, I will then that you have listened.

I fear that you are again setting an example to our current superficial generation of youths that will not serve the cause of Christ very well in the days to come, let alone today. You are teaching them that they can worship God anyway they choose, and regardless of the biblical principles that they so arrogantly flout! Soon we will see the flashing strobe lighting in our services, and the 'smoke' effect to raise anticipation and get 'decisions.' This is not far away in many evangelical and reformed congregations. Even the pulpit will be removed and replaced by a stage, to enable performances to take place, and drama, and other show-biz antics, etc!

But where is all this going to stop? Is there anyone today who cares enough for the honour of Christ and the good of His church and His people of all ages? Please tell me there are such people of principle in the churches today! Perhaps there are not any! Perhaps the modernising movement within PCI is driving its best ministers out of the denomination because they fear the consequences of the church offering 'strange fire' to the LORD.

Rev. X, please do not dismiss my concerns. Perhaps these matters need careful consideration by the elders in session. The last thing I want to do is to cause you any unnecessary difficulty in your congregation. You referred today, and I paraphrase, to people with some kind of spiritual discernment. Some of your members can discern what is happening in XXX under your ministry, and are not impressed. Perhaps they have not spoken to you about their concerns, maybe out of respect or fear or because you won't listen; but those concerns are there.

These are real spiritual concerns. May I ask you? Who exactly is this god you are worshipping? Members may not articulate this in this way, but that is what they are saying. If He is the living and true God, then He has set out how He wants to be worshipped by His people; and He's done that in Scriptures.

As before, I do not expect a detailed response from you, for whatever reasons. Yet I would very much like you to treat me with respect and accord me the courtesy of a considered reply.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Worship again!

With the heightening irreverence in much of what passes for Christian worship today, it is important to realise that there is still sufficient conscience left in the 'rock brigade' to know that it is inappropriate for drum accompanied jazz improvisation to be used in singing the Psalms.

I was interested to see what will happen when the minister of the church I was attending recently announced a Psalm for congregational praise. What amazement I experienced when I noticed the drummer standing at his pew, and the Psalm was sung, accompanied by the piano only.

This was most welcome, given that Psalms are only sung three or four times a year, despite it being a 'presbyterian' church where this happens.

What accounts for this change of worship format on this occasion? It's hard to say, because there appears to be no discernible pattern to what goes on in much contemporary worship, except that it is largely undignified and irreverent, weak theologically, extremely subjective, sloppy and sentimental, and something a group of religious people do on Sundays.

Perhaps, the 'worship group' knows instinctively that when the Psalms are sung, we are dealing directly with the Word of God, or better, that God, through His Word, is dealing with us! Is there a covert admission that many human compositions do not deserve the respect that the Psalms are given? How sad it will be if the Psalms were given the same 'treatment' that is given to other worldly compositions.

Sadly, the perpetrators of worship violence provide no certainty that they will not revert to form. If they imagine that some worshippers identify the rightness of abstinence from worship violence, they will not appreciate this, and will return to 'doing what they know best.'

What is it going to take to bring professing 'reformed' churches back to their traditional practices in worship? I think one thing necessary is an urgent return to submission to the authority of God's Word in all matters of faith and practice. The apparent absence of any submission to God as Lord is conspicuous. The lack of reverence for God and His House and worship is a very worrying attribute of much contemporary worship. One is forced to ask whether or not it is good for any informed Christian to even attend a church that treats God so shabbily? Is he wittingly or unwittingly supporting what he believes to be wrong? Does his presence provide a level of credibility to such theological violence?

Unless and until there is a return to a real and practical acknowledgement of, and submission to, the authority of the Scriptures over all matters, including worship, there will be no likelihood of the situation improving. God must take control in His church again for acceptable worship to be offered to Him, and not the current 'strange fire.' He must be given His place within the life of His church, and the place currently given to 'the young people' relegated to its proper position, that of a part of the congregation like any other part. No sectional interest ought to be allowed to determine what goes on in the life of the church. And certainly not inexperienced young people whose minds have been infiltrated by modern decadent youth culture.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

"Judge not, that ye be not judged!"

"Judge not, that ye be not judged!" These are the challenging words of our Lord Jesus Christ. What did he mean by these words? Well, he did not prohibit the use of our critical faculties otherwise assessing situations would then be impossible for Christians. We have to be able to judge between this and that in order to come to a decision as to which we prefer, or which is right.

What Christ was teaching is that we, as Christians, are not to judge in a way that is censorious, and comes from a self-righteous heart. Neither are we to judge harshly, nor must we make much more of the sins we see in others than we do of our own sins. For if we judge others harshly and without mercy, compassion or love, then we can but expect the selfsame judgment from others when we sin.

I am sure we all know people who have been so destructive, so negative, so ruthless and merciless in their judgment of others; such self-righteous 'judges' cannot expect anything different from those who judge them when they transgress. Indeed, self-righteous judges of others can only expect severe and merciless judgment from God on the last day. Such forthcoming judgment is evidence of a horribly wrong heart, one that is callous, cold, unfeeling.

The Robinsons - Peter is the First Minister of the Executive in Northern Ireland, and his wife is Iris - are a case in point. Perhaps no more censorious couple can be imagined anywhere. The intemperate language they employed to destroy their political enemies was thought to be unacceptable by decent people, although their followers enjoyed it immensely. The party of which he is the leader - at the moment, at least - has been trained by its founder, Dr Ian Paisley, to destroy everyone and everything that stood in the way of political success. Truthfulness did not seem to matter because winning at the polls was all that mattered. This party, the DUP, has destroyed every unionist leader in Northern Ireland since the 1960s - O'Neill, Chicester-Clark, West, Faulkner, and laterally Trimble. They set out to judge these civic leaders with a view to their destruction and failure, and succeeded, believing themselves to be impervious to negative circumstances, impregnable, un-defeatable.

But God had to teach these arrogant and self-righteous people that He is not mocked, and that whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. If you sow to the wind, you will reap the whirlwind. If you judge others harshly, you will be judged in exactly the same manner.

The arrogant criticism of other 'good' men appeared to be the stock in trade of these two politicians - Peter and Iris Robinson. Their entire political careers were predicated, it was believed, on winning at all costs. Many a good man was totally destroyed by this party, and it was believed, by this couple! Isn't it salutary that those who build their careers of such a sandy foundation cannot expect to survive when the real storms arrive?

But the hypocrisy of their behaviour was and is evident to all. This is perhaps the hardest aspect of the situation to accept. While Iris was forthright and clear in her public condemnation of homosexuality, a position that many Christians would also accept, the time-line suggests that as she made this pronouncement, she may have been 'grooming' the teenager for a sexual liaison some short time in the future. However, this will all come out in the near future.

This should not come as any great surprise, of course. This same party went out of its way to criticise its political opponents in the Ulster Unionist Party for what they regarded as the disastrous Belfast Agreement, which, they claimed, was a staging post for a united Ireland, and totally opposed to what unionists traditionally stood for. The criticism and condemnation was piled on, on a daily basis, causing division not only within other parties, but within families and churches.

Yet, what Peter Robinson and his party, the DUP, accepted at St Andrews was significantly worse for unionism than that negotiated by Trimble. On Trimble's watch, there were only two politicians linked with the IRA terrorist machine, whereas under Paisley's watch, this had increased to five! Yet, they condemned Trimble for doing what he did, and laid it on him and his party with not even a smell of mercy or understanding. But the birds come home to roost, do they not?

Yes, Trimble's political career in Northern Ireland came to an end, as all political careers do, some in ignominy; but it came as a result of politics working itself out at the polls. In the Robinsons' case, their political careers will end differently - Iris's in ignominy and disgrace, and Peter's not far behind hers.

It is extremely sad that these politicians were unable to see that it is not how men judge others that really counts, but how God judges them, the only One Who can judge righteous judgment. When the Robinsons judged so harshly their political rivals, or even people they did not like or were viewed as a threat to their progress, they did not see into the hearts of those criticised. They did not know their hearts, nor could they.

I remember being present, with my wife and young family, at a loyalist event in Magherafelt almost 20 years ago, and at which the main speakers were senior members of the DUP; the personality assassination of political and religious opponents, the mimicking that went on, the mocking of those who had speech impediments, the taking down of the 'dress sense' of those they criticised, and the resultant jubilation of the supportive crowd that attended, is storing up an awful day of judgment for themselves, a judgment that might come long before the last Day, as it has done for the Robinsons and the entire DUP, and has thrown into question the entire political scenario in Northern Ireland.

Yet, it is extremely sad that any family should end up in this undesirable position, one that no decent person would wish on their worst enemies. The hurt they must be feeling, the sense of shame and betrayal, the disappointment, the future careers of the present and next generation, these are all painfully real. Peter had worked all his life to become the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland; now this is collapsing in tatters around his feet. His predecessor's political career, Dr Paisley, came to an abrupt end, and people still ask, "Did he jump, or was he pushed," a question still not answered. Now Peter will, in all likelihood, follow Iris into the political wilderness.

If there is anything good to come out of this, it is the fact that they belong to what seems to be a caring Christian church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast. The pastor has said repeatedly that the church will help and support them, and love them, and work to see them through this terrible personal tragedy. Had they belonged to any other Christian church in Northern Ireland, they would have been ostracised, ignored, condemned, rejected, alienated, tramped upon, ministers and members told to have nothing to do with them, criticised, talked about behind backs, shown pretend love and consideration, and so on, ad infinitum. But their church family at the Metropolitan Tabernacle will be there for them at this extremely difficult time for the entire Robinson family. They will need that pastoral support more now than at any time in the past, and their church has promised to give it. To be surrounded by such caring, non-judgmental, supportive Christian friends is a rare privilege, not seen in too many churches in Northern Ireland today. Their church will love the sinner without condoning their sin.

Had they belonged elsewhere, the pastoral support would not have been forthcoming, at least not in many churches. But while many of their political colleagues will be very worried about their seats in Stormont and at Westminster, Peter might not have many friends left within the DUP! They will need, and will receive, pastoral support from their church.

To be shown God's amazing grace through the church is simply what the church is there to do, amongst other things. To be taken into the very bosom of their heavenly Father will convey the spiritual healing they will need. Grace is always shown to the undeserving, indeed to those who deserve the very opposite. Grace does not fix anything, but it does empower people to live above their circumstances. And it takes grace to show grace.

Perhaps the reason why this needy family will be shown grace from their church is because grace reigns in that church. Those churches that have a track record of refusing to show grace to the erring, to those in difficulties or trouble, demonstrate that grace is absent from their church and from the lives of their members and ministers, despite their claim to hold to the doctrines of grace. A caring church cannot be created by men, however hard they try; it is something created by God. It would appear that God is not at work in many churches today, nor in too many church members, despite their confident claim that God is in their church!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Presbyterian Moderator would have attended Funeral Mass

An overnight illness prevented Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Stafford Carson, attending the funeral of Cardinal Daly on Tuesday 5th January 2010. From this press report, it is clear that this leading reformed, evangelical and Presbyterian minister was fully intending to attend this funeral Mass for one of the Pope's official representatives in Ireland.

Dr Carson, quite clearly, saw no contradiction in being a reformed evangelical minister, and attending the funeral mass for the late Cardinal. Having subscribed the Westminster Confession of Faith as the confession of his faith, he, in effect, and by his actions, stated that he no longer believed what the official faith of his church is. Perhaps as Moderator of his church's General Assembly - Presbyterianism's fancy name for 'chairman' - he has also called a truce on his earlier Gospel position, to enable him to attend this blasphemous ceremony.

When he was appointed to this position, Dr Carson, who used to be a firm critic of the ordination of women to the Christian ministry, and refused to exchange pulpits with his neighbouring female minister who belonged to the same denomination and ministered in the same town, as was customary at Christmas time, called a truce on the women's ordination issue for the duration of his year of office.

Now, another truce has been called, this time on the blasphemous nature of Roman Catholicism's Mass. This denial of the Christian Gospel that the Mass is, states that what Christ did on Calvary was not finished, and has to be repeated continually by the church. The Roman Mass is what does this.

For Dr Carson to have been present at this blasphemous celebration would have constituted a denial of the Gospel.

This raises the further issue of what exactly it is that Dr Carson preaches to his congregation week by week! His current practice will mean that he will no longer teach the wrongness of the ordination of women to the Christian eldership, or even that the Mass is a blasphemous act that really denies the Christian Gospel.

To give official recognition to the representative of AntiChrist in Ireland is what could be expected of a 'clergyman' from any other church; but for a reformed, evangelical, Presbyterian minister to do so is inexplicable. It also represents a further humiliation of the church's good Christian people, if not another form of abuse used by this denomination.

What is happening within reformed evangelicalism? Earlier in these posts, I highlighted the romanising tendencies within, and spear-headed by, evangelicals! These also have to do with the sacraments! How is it that covert romanising surfaces in relation to the sacraments! What is happening within evangelicalism? Is there a lack of sound biblical instruction? Is the church's failure to root its teaching in historical and theological ideas part of the reason why many Christians have no historical perspective for their faith? Is this a real problem, or an imaginary one? Why has ecumenism been so successful that it has now conquered large swathes of reformed evangelicalism? It has done this, and been promoted by, liberal churches, but even now the evangelicals within these liberal churches have succumbed to militant ecumenism!

The only good thing is that there are still some reformed Christians who do not embrace this anti-Christian teaching. These have remained outside the camp, and have maintained their spiritual and theological integrity. Even the "purest forms" of reformed Christianity have no difficulty in inviting ministers like Dr Carson to address their conventions! Do they not know? Are they not aware of what is going on? Has ignorance gripped even the 'purest' forms of reformed Christianity?

Dr Carson would have been there at that funeral mass for the representative of antiChrist in Ireland, had God not intervened and brought illness his way. Or, to be really naughty and cynical, did he really have an illness, and was this a believable ploy that he used to get himself out of a tricky and embarrassing situation? Only Dr Carson can answer these questions.

Thank God for those who are still holding the line and maintaining the faith. May God bless their faithfulness and their witness to the Gospel.