"Ian Paisley Hits Raw Nerve with Church Leaders"
(7 July 2010)
By simply re-asserting his long-standing commitment to the mainstream historical Protestant position on the papacy, Dr Ian Paisley, now Lord Bannside, has hit a raw nerve with the newly installed Presbyterian Moderator, Rev Norman Hamilton, and Canon Ian Ellis, editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette.
Dr Hamilton's arguments, in particular, are weak. He says he will accept Her Majesty's judgment rather than Lord Bannside's. But would he not be better to reach his own judgment rather than rely on that of Her Majesty, who, although held in high esteem by us all, is far from infallible? A good starting point might be the Westminster Confession of Faith which reads, "There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God". (Chapter 25 para 6). Dr Hamilton would do well to ponder those words written by godly men in an age when truth was held in higher esteem than it is today.
Dr Hamilton is also wrong to compare the pope's visit with that of the Dalai Lama. Unlike the Pope, the Dalai Lama does not claim to be the Vicar of Christ or the spiritual and temporal leader of the world. It is the arrogance of such claims that renders any papal visit highly contentious.
"CHURCHES EXPRESS OPPOSITION TO PAPAL VISIT"
Two churches in Northern Ireland, the Reformed Presbyterians and the Free Presbyterians, have issued statements expressing their opposition to the Papal visit to the UK in September 2010. We warmly welcome these, and would urge other churches to follow their example.
Reformed Witness Committee of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
"We must express our dismay and sorrow at the proposed visit of Benedict XVI to the UK. We regard his claim to be the `Vicar of Christ on earth` as false and eternally ruinous to those who are deceived by it and who put their trust in it. We hold no ill will to the Roman Catholic community. On the contrary, we desire their highest and everlasting good in being brought to faith in the `one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2 v5). Only in this way can any of us go to heaven instead of hell.
We consider this proposed visit to be a further instance of the United Kingdom turning from the true Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe the Lord will continue to be against the nation until there is a general turning from our current love of false religions, unbelief and wrong morals to seek God`s forgiveness through Christ.
It is the prayer of our church that God would bring about that change by his Holy Spirit".
"Free Presbyterians to Protest against Papal Visit"
Speaking on behalf of the Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, the Moderator, Rev Ron Johnstone, said: "We publicly disassociate ourselves from and condemn those church leaders who will welcome and meet him.
He also criticised the "false doctrines of the papacy" and added, "By their actions they not only give credence to his spurious claims - but are betraying the very creeds they once professed to believe, teach and defend. As reformed evangelical Protestants we totally reject the arrogant and, more importantly, unscriptural titles and claims of the Pope. Those claims, historically viewed as blasphemous by Protestant churches, mean that his visit cannot be construed as simply pastoral".
Speaking of the planned protests, Rev Johnstone said: "We intend, in the coming weeks, to highlight the contrast between the teaching of scripture and the false doctrines of the papacy. Our supreme aim and overriding concern is to exalt the only King and head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ. We will therefore, at this time, call all people to a personal faith in the Saviour as the only mediator between God and men".
EPS WELCOMES ORANGE ORDER STATEMENT ON POPE
The Evangelical Protestant Society welcomes the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland's statement of opposition to the forthcoming papal visit to Great Britain, and we call upon all Protestant churches and organisations, especially those based in Great Britain, to take a similar stand.
Our forefathers died rather than submit to the darkness and arrogance of popery and yet, such are the levels of spiritual ignorance displayed by the media and by the so-called leaders in church and state, that it is those who voice opposition to the papal visit who are denounced as sectarian bigots. We suggest that the real sectarianism and bigotry are to be found in the claims of the Church of Rome. The pope is unique among world political and spiritual leaders in that he asserts that he is the temporal and spiritual ruler over all the earth. It is on the basis of such spurious claims that his visit must be opposed.
ORANGE ORDER STATEMENT IN FULL
"While we recognise the civil and religious rights of all, we cannot welcome or agree with the visit of the Pope to this country.
The Pope claims himself to be the vicar of Christ on earth, a title which assumes supreme and universal supremacy both in honour and jurisdiction over all - church, state, the world. Any who would welcome him are in danger of appearing to acknowledge his primacy and universal supremacy in all of these matters.
We take this opportunity to call on all the people of our land to examine the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, especially on the matter of eternal salvation, and to see that the teaching of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church is at total variance with the Biblical message that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
We therefore call on all the citizens of the United Kingdom, and especially members of the Loyal Orange Institution, to demonstrate their opposition to the Pope's visit to England and Scotland, and to oppose any future invitation to visit Northern Ireland. At the same time, we call on all members of the Loyal Orange Institution to refrain from any uncharitable acts or sentiments against our Roman Catholic fellow countrymen. Furthermore, we urge all members of the Institution to examine their own relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, to make sure that they have a saving faith in Him.
Finally, we encourage all our members to pray for a visitation to our land, not by the vicar of Christ, the holy father, as the Pope claims himself to be, but by the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, that both Protestant and Roman Catholic, as well as others from whatever background, may be brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man."