on the end of an era in Free Presbyterianism


Northern Ireland leader Paisley to step down from helm of his Protestant church after 56 years – International Herald Tribune: “The Rev. Ian Paisley, who has angered many of his Protestant faithful by forming a Northern Ireland government with a former IRA commander, is stepping down as leader of the hard-line church he founded 56 years ago.”

I wondered a bit on how things would fall out with Paisley after seeing a comment on Ivan Foster’s web-page earlier this summer.

The position of the General Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian church on power-sharing with murderers is clear and unequivocal. It is not the present position adopted by its Moderator, Dr. Ian R K Paisley MP.

His agreeing to lead his Democratic Unionist Party into a power-sharing coalition with Sinn Fein/IRA is quite contrary to the political position he espoused just a very short time ago. However, given the propensity of politicians to change their minds and their manifestos, what is far more important is the fact that it is quite contrary to the position he and the Free Presbyterian Church have proclaimed as the teaching of the Word of God.

From a pragmatic standpoint, I can understand both points of view. Paisley is doing politically what he thinks he has to do for his purposes in Ireland. At 81, he is giving up his leadership of his denomination to pursue his course in Northern Ireland. I can also understand the opposition of his men, even loyal, long standing friends like Foster.

It is a sad state of affairs that leads to this breach, but I think I understand the motivations behind either point of view.

I have heard Paisley preach many times. There is no finer preacher on the person of Christ, in my opinion. I have heard Ivan Foster preach a couple of times. The first time I heard either of them was when I visited BJU as a 12th grader at their Bible Conference in 1975. I remember being impressed with both men, but especially with a sermon by Foster on the pierced ear of a Hebrew slave from either Ex 21.6 or Dt 15.17. I thought I had a tape of that message, but perhaps not… In any case, both Foster and Paisley made a big impression on me in those days. Both of them are godly men, in my opinion. (I am sure they have flaws!)

In spite of these differences, may God’s word continue to be preached and souls saved through both men’s ministries.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3