Leader of Free Presbyterian Church says his denomination is ‘grieved’ about ‘ecumenical’ joint church service in Armagh for NI Centenary

The leader of the Free Presbyterian Church says his denomination is “grieved” about tomorrow’s joint church service in Armagh to mark the Centenary of Northern Ireland, due to its ecumenical nature.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 1:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 1:43 pm

The denomination, founded by Rev Ian Paisley, is one of the smaller churches in NI but has had a significant influence on affairs particularly through its overlap in membership in the DUP.

Now the current moderator, Rev John Armstrong, gave an extensive comment about the service taking place tomorrow. The church’s statement in full is as follows;-

STATEMENT FROM THE FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF ULSTER

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The four largest churches will take part in the service at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh.

Recently, the Rev John Armstrong, Moderator of the General Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, said in his comments on the Centenary of Northern Ireland, “The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster records its thanks to Almighty God for His blessing upon Northern Ireland since its establishment in 1921. As part of the UK, all citizens in Northern Ireland have continued to enjoy those civil and religious freedoms that have been the mark of British life, freedoms that the citizens of many nations can but envy.”

Earlier this week, Rev. Armstrong issued a statement on behalf of his Presbytery. He prefaced his statement with these words, “As Moderator of Presbytery, I present the following statement on behalf of the Officers and Executive Committee of the Presbytery regarding the service to be held in Armagh Cathedral relating to the Centenary of the foundation of Northern Ireland. Clearly, this upcoming event has been arranged to promote the purposes of unscriptural ecumenism when it ought to have been a service of celebration and thanksgiving for the Lord’s hand upon our country over the past 100 years.”

Rev Armstrong continued, “As a denomination the Free Presbyterian Church is grieved that the Centenary Service was deliberately planned to promote the unbiblical ethos of religious ecumenism. The event was jointly arranged by the leaders of the four main churches – the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches. Such ecumenical union does not represent the views of thousands of Ulster Protestants who do not accept the Roman Catholic Church as a Christian Church. Our opposition to fellowship with Roman Catholicism is theological.

Its dogmas concerning, among other things, the Mass and Mariolatry, are unscriptural and therefore heretical. Participation in this ecumenical service by the leaders of Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, and Methodism is a betrayal of the Protestant and Reformed Creeds and Confessions that these church leaders subscribe and claim to believe.

These Creeds and Confessions we hold dear, for they are the basis of true liberty of conscience and are the foundation of the religious freedom with which Northern Ireland has been blessed over this past century. We would call on members of these churches to repudiate and withstand the efforts of their ecumenical leaders in their continued betrayal of true Biblical Protestantism.”

In his statement, Rev Armstrong drew attention to the view of the Centenary Service as stated by the ecumenical church leaders themselves, namely that they saw “…this service as a moment in a much longer journey towards reconciliation which will require the prayerful support and engagement of Christians across these islands.”

Commenting on their statement, Rev Armstrong said, “We would remind all who read these lines that true reconciliation among people before Almighty God can be secured only as based on the finished work of Christ at Calvary. The Word of God in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 clearly presents the reconciliation with God, which sinful men need – “…in Christ…be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

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