A couple of months ago an open air preacher was approached by a group of men on Belfast's Shankill Road who objected to his preaching the gospel. In his defence he told them that he was preaching a Protestant message, surely thinking that no-one in one of Belfast's most historically Protestant roads could openly object to his preaching when it was couched in those terms. The response of the men however was that they were not Protestants, they were Loyalists. Such an incident is a sad indication of how Christianity has declined in Ulster in recent decades, a land once renowned for the preaching of the gospel has, even in one of its most staunchly 'protestant' areas, no time for the Word of God. There is however a great truth in the response of those men on the Shankill Road, for being Loyalist or Unionist does not necessarily mean being Protestant. There are many people who have grown up in Loyalist areas and when asked what religion they are, they would immediately give the answer that they were Protestant. In the majority of cases however, what they are simply saying is that they are not Roman Catholic, their answer it political and cultural more than religious. In the 2011 Northern Ireland Census over 875,000 people described themselves as Protestant. Yet there is no doubt that in many of these cases their Protestantism is simply a historical one; their parents or grandparents went to a Protestant church so they also consider themselves to be Protestant. Yet the true definition of a Protestant is not found in our cultural identity, nor is it not defined by the waving of Union Flag or the wearing of a t-shirt stating that we are 'Proud to be a Prod'. The true definition of a Protestant is rooted in a faith in the Word of God.
Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Sunday, 17 March 2013
The Roman Catholic Church has long claimed St Patrick to be its own; a representative of the Pope sent to evangelise the heathen Irish. Yet of all the stories and legends that exist around Patrick, only two documents have been preserved that are accepted as genuine by both Roman Catholic and Protestant historians; his Letter and his Confession. Reproduced below is his confession, one which has nothing of Romanism about it, nor does it give any indication of his ever having been an emissary of the Pope. It is but the confession of a simple sinner, one trusting in the redemptive work of Christ alone for his salvation.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
With the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis the stream of professed Protestants lavishing their praise upon the papacy has continued in full flow. The recently elected Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has offered his warmest welcome to this man of sin in a statement which can be read here. In his statement he wishes the Pope his every blessing, desires that they would soon meet and be able to work together in the spirit of ecumenism. To describe the Pope in the manner he does, as an evangelist who shares the love of Christ is to display a great ignorance of the truth of Scripture, and of the true nature of the papacy. How far removed this is from the words of that great Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who on the day of his execution said 'as for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ's enemy, and Antichrist with all his false doctrine'. What a change there has been. The views of the current Archbishop are at great variance with those of Cranmer, contrary to the teaching of scripture, and indeed opposed to the Church of England's own Articles of Faith. It would be of great benefit to that church if it were to return to the 39 Articles and to the word of God! How we need more Thomas Cranmers and fewer Justin Welbys. Sadly it appears that we are bereft of the former and surrounded by the later. Our only prayer for the papacy is for its downfall, for that day when Christ will overthrow antichrist and banish all false religion to the bottomless pit.
Friday, 8 March 2013
There are few verses in the Bible better known than John 3:16 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'. This verse had been described as the gospel in a nutshell, and such a description is apt for in just twenty five words it proclaims the good news that God gave his Son to be the Saviour of men. However in some modern translations of the scriptures this verse has been very poorly rendered, in such a way that the eternal sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ is denied. Translations such as the New International Version amongst others have removed the phrase 'only begotten Son' and replaced it with 'his one and only Son'. While to the casual reader this may not appear to have much of an effect on the message of the verse, yet no-one ought to be a casual reader of the scriptures. A closer look at the meaning of the words will reveal the importance of the truth that Jesus Christ is God's only BEGOTTEN Son.
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
If the Her Majesty's Government has its way, it will be very soon passed into law that marriage can be defined as a union between two men, or between two women. The traditional, and more importantly, the biblical definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman will effectively be consigned to history, a change that will have great implications for society. Such a move would have been unthinkable only a generation ago, indeed even when civil partnerships were introduced eight years ago the assurance was given that it was not gay marriage. However just a few years on polls have found that 60% of people support the introduction of gay marriage. Even here in Northern Ireland where the gay marriage legislation will not come into effect there is, in truth, little opposition to it. Our province, which just over 30 years ago still considered homosexuality to be a criminal offence, is now open to it, with even professed Christian ministers being found among its supporters. Everywhere we look the sin of Sodom is promoted and recommended and the battle for the morals of our land appears to be lost as biblical principles are trampled under the cause of equality and human rights. The every demand of the homosexual lobby is met with open arms by our government and by the population at large, indeed it has come to the point where to be homosexual almost has an air of trendiness to it and to display any opposition is to bring the accusation of bigotry. In such a state we must ask ourselves how it has all gone so wrong, how have we lost the battle for the morality of our nation?
The bias of the media
One factor which has contributed to the rise in acceptance of homosexuality is the increase of it's promotion through the media. So much is homosexuality pushed into the faces of people today that they have become accustomed to and accepting of it. That which only a short time ago was outlawed in our land is now a source of entertainment, indeed hardly can we turn on the television but we are bombarded with homosexual story lines and homosexual celebrities. So called stars such as Elton John and Gok Wan regularly fill our television screens and every soap opera has its homosexual characters to keep us entertained. In 1994 when Brookside screened the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss on British television it generated considerable headlines, however today homosexual story lines are the norm. A BBC report commissioned in late 2012 has even recommended that the organisation should be more creative and bolder in how it depicts homosexuals in it's programming, it has even said that children's television should be used to help familiarise children with homosexual characters from an early age. What a sign it is of how far our country has fallen that the innocence of children would be exploited by those who seek to advance their own perverse agendas. Yet what is saddest about the promotion of homosexuality through the media is that it has not changed the viewing habits of many Christians. Although their favourite soap operas, dramas and sit-coms have become the medium of promoting the homosexual agenda, yet they still find themselves glued to them every night of the week. Such a reality is but indicative of the fact that, in truth, many Christians are indifferent to the advancement of the homosexual cause that is so evident around us.
The indifference of Christians
It is a great indictment on the Christian church today that so many are indifferent to the advances of the homosexual lobby and to its dangers. Whilst it is not a great surprise that liberals and modernists have supported it demands, it is more sad that the majority of so called evangelicals, those who ought to be at the forefront of opposition to moral decline, have been found wanting. In word they may be opposed to it, yet in deed so few are found to make any true stand against it. When the 'Gay Pride' parade is held in Belfast each year there are but a smattering of Christians prepared to make a visible witness against, their numbers being vastly overwhelmed by the general population who come out to support it. Many believers are found at home, opposed to it in principle, yet not found to be putting that principle into practice. The word of God is clear that Christians are 'the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted'. Where the majority of evangelical believers have failed to take a stand against moral decline, what hope is there that others will do so. The silence and inactivity of many Christians can only be explained by the fact that they do not realise the inherent dangers in the current rise of homosexuality. Like Lot they have lived in Sodom, surrounded by and accustomed to its sin, but undesirous of speaking out against it. If the Christian response continues to be as it has, what can we expect but that our country will fall further into the abyss morally, each generation becoming more wicked than the previous.
The failure of politicians
When the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association was established in the late 1970s to push for the decriminalising of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, it was met with the response of the 'Save Ulster from Sodomy' campaign. Christians politicians were vehemently opposed to the suggestion of homosexuality being legalised. Yet fast forward a few decades and the response has been considerably diluted. Whilst many of Northern Ireland's politicians do still oppose homosexuality and have voted against gay marriage, the signs are there of a significant shift in their attitudes. When the civil partnership bill was introduced in 2005 it passed through every Northern Ireland council without hindrance. Barely a voice was raised in protest, the attitude being taken by many of 'what can we do'. The seeds of this failure are now becoming clear for all to see, with funding for homosexual groups continuing despite the presence of Christians in our government. Last years Belfast Pride event had representation from all the major political parties; with UUP, SDLP, Sinn Fein and Alliance members walking in the parade, and the DUP Lord Mayor taking part in a question panel. The first step for that party, sadly it is likely to be one of many steps on a downward slope. What is clear for all to see is that politicians here, and across the United Kingdom have failed in their duty to uphold moral standards. Their failure has contributed to the advancement of the homosexual agenda and will be doubtless have great consequences for the generation of children growing up today.
In the midst of all this we must ask ourselves, what can we do? 2 Chronicles 7:14 says that 'If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.' We must give ourselves to prayer, we must bear a clear witness for biblical standards and must be that salt, that light which is so greatly lacking in our land. Only the Lord can turn our land once again to him, can direct our politicians aright and can reform the morals of the people. We pray that he would do so, that we would not be as Sodom and Gomorrah, but that we would be spared and delivered from the wrath of God.