Reverend, a former fire-brand, Free Presbyterian preacher of religious separation between Irish Catholics and Protestants has been harshly criticised for recently attending an ecumenical service marking the Queen’s Jubilee in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.
In an article published yesterday on his “Burning Bush” website, Reverend Ivan Foster (retired), a fellow Free Presbyterian preacher blasted Paisley’s attendance at the April 29th ecumenical service as a flagrant violation of the oath both men took when they were ordained.
Foster was the minister of Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church from 1978 until 2008. He describes Kilskeery as “a little hamlet of some 20 houses, situated in very rural County Tyrone, Northern Ireland”.
Labelling Paisley and his wife’s attendance at the Ballymena Lord’s Day afternoon service the “most heartbreaking” feature of the ecumenical event, Foster wrote, “The man, who for many Christians, was an instructor in righteousness and a guide on the solemn issues of separation from ecumenical apostasy, sat through a service in which a Romanist priest led the congregation in prayer and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor, among other things, prayed for the dead!”
He blazed “For a Free Presbyterian minister or elder to attend such a gathering must run contrary to their ordination oath.”
Foster quotes part of the oath, which states: “Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel against modernistic apostasy, and in working for the purity and peace of the church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?”
He continues “It is my duty to denounce such a gathering as this ecumenical service in fulfilment of this very oath. It can only be violation of this oath if others who swore it, attend this service!”
And while complimenting her for the personal propriety that has distinguished her rule, Foster also had stern words for Queen Elizabeth II.
“Sadly, her personal propriety has been more than off-set by her religious activities and example.” he writes.
He blames the monarch’s supposed error on her clerical counsellors, saying, “The spiritual views of the royal family have been dictated by their ecumenical advisors. If ever a family was ill-served by its spiritual pastors it has been the royal family!”
“Every Christian should indeed earnestly pray, ‘God save the Queen’,” he continues “for the poor woman needs God’s saving grace applied to her heart.”
Reverend Foster seeks to support his razing of Paisley’s, the Queen’s and others’ religion reconciling efforts by quoting a number of passages from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV), including the following:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthins 6:14;
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” 2 Corinthians 6:17;
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them,” Ephesians 5:11;
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them,” Romans 16:17;
And “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away,” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Foster says such scriptures “were repeatedly quoted by Dr Paisley as he pressed home the path of duty for the believer faced with ecumenical apostasy.”
He says “It saddens me to quote these glorious truths in these circumstances but God’s Word remains true and must not be defied by any.”
Foster has been publishing the Burning Bush since 1970. He says it was started as a congregational newssheet "because the local press were very opposed to our anti-ecumenical stance and refused to publish anything I said."
He claims the publication, now an online entity exclusively, is valued for "its forthright dealing with issues others side-stepped."
Footnote: coming from a fiery Protestant (Pentecostal) background myself, I suspect Reverend Foster’s sadness could be relieved if he put his zeal for “God’s word” into integrating (rather than separating) Catholics and Protestants.
He could begin with a study of 2 Corinthians 15: 23-29, which indicates that early Christians did not merely pray for the dead, but were even baptized for them.