An example of compromise and fudge in Irish Presbyterianism

The call to the church today and into the future is to get it right on the key doctrines of Christ, the Bible and salvation
The call to the church today and into the future is to get it right on the key doctrines of Christ, the Bible and salvation

When Leo X’s papal bull of excommunication (1520) listed 41 “errors” of Martin Luther and classified them as “either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against [Roman] Catholic truth,” the reformer explained and boldly affirmed all of these articles, and asked the pope to specify into which category each of these 41 statements fell.

When Leo X’s papal bull of excommunication (1520) listed 41 “errors” of Martin Luther and classified them as “either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against [Roman] Catholic truth,” the Reformer explained and boldly affirmed all of these articles, and asked the pope to specify into which category each of these 41 statements fell. He received no answer.

Rev. Mark Wilson (‘Martin Luther both left the church and changed it,’ 30 September) stated that he does not believe that some of the scriptural and Reformed doctrines (e.g., the supremacy of God’s Word, original sin, the bondage of the will, justification in Christ alone by faith alone, imputation, sovereign grace, predestination?) confessed in my letter (‘PCI invite to Roman Catholic leaders raises serious doctrinal and spiritual issues,’ 29 September) are “essential,” and that he does not think some of the unbiblical dogmas of Rome that I mentioned (eg., its higher criticism of Holy Scripture, evolutionism, indulgences, sacramental system, prayers to saints, papal infallibility?) are “reprehensible”.

Could Rev Wilson identify all of the items that belong to each category and indicate how he attempts to harmonise his views with Presbyterianism’s Westminster Standards?

Rev Wilson emphasised the “long list” of Rome’s “reprehensible” teaching and the “long list” of Protestant doctrines that were included in my printed letter of some 600 words only.

As a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) who subscribes to the Westminster Standards, he should know that the Westminster Confession contains 33 chapters of up to 10 articles each, the Westminster Shorter Catechism consists of 107 questions and answers, and the Westminster Larger Catechism comprises 196 much longer questions and answers. Rev Wilson’s three confessional documents (with their scriptural proof texts) come to some 300 pages in my edition.

If this PCI minister objects to a reformed evaluation of true doctrines and heresies in a letter of a mere 600 words, one wonders how much he disagrees with the much longer, 300-page Westminster Standards to which he has subscribed! What about the other ministers and office-bearers in Rev. Wilson’s denomination?

Is this not exactly the sort of compromise and fudge in Irish Presbyterianism, by a minister and adjunct professor of church history at Union Theological College, that leads to and supports bizarre invitations to Roman Catholic leaders who reject the Reformation to speak at the PCI’s autumn seminars as part of a “thanksgiving for the Reformation” on its 500th anniversary?

Where is the Reformation’s earnest contending for the faith (Jude 3) in the PCI?

Rev Angus Stewart, Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, Ballymena