Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Presbyterian Moderator Invites Roman Primate of Ireland 
to the General Assembly

Rev. Angus Stewart


The Westminster Confession (WC), the official creed of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), states that "such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters" (WC 24:3). Yet the 2004-2005 PCI Moderator, Rev. Ken Newell, invited the primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, Dr. Sean Brady, to be his honoured guest at the opening night of the Presbyterian General Assembly (7 June, 2004).

A church is Presbyterian to the degree in which she is faithful to Presbyterian doctrine, sacraments, worship, discipline and church government as set forth in the Westminster Confession as a summary of the Bible’s teaching.

Presbyterianism confesses the sufficiency of the self-interpreting canonical Scriptures (WC 1). God is absolutely sovereign over all things (3), including the fall of Adam and all other sins (4:4). Man "hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good" (9:3), and even his possession of a corrupted nature is itself "properly sin" (6:5). "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death" (3:3). Christ died for "the elect only" (3:6) whom in due time He irresistibly calls (10) and justifies by imputing to them the righteousness of Christ alone received by faith alone (11). All elect saints certainly persevere by grace to the end (17) and even in this life receive assurance of their salvation (18). All these doctrines are denied by Rome. In fact, there are very few of the 33 chapters of the Westminster Confession which do not contradict Roman dogma.

Contrary to Romanism, Presbyterianism acknowledges "only two sacraments ordained by Christ" and not seven (27:4). Water baptism does not regenerate (28:5). The mass is "most abominably injurious to Christ’s one only sacrifice" (29:2). Transubstantiation "hath been and is the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries" (29:6).

Presbyterianism avows that "the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture" (21:1). Only the Triune God is to be worshipped and that only through the mediation of Christ alone (21:2). The "whole time" of the Lord’s Day is to be "kept holy" (21:8); prayer "for the dead" is forbidden (21:4).

Presbyterian discipline (30) and church government (31) are likewise opposed to the hierarchical Roman system that finds its apex in the Pope who claims to be the vicar of Christ on earth.

The Westminster Confession states, "Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth" (22:3). "An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation" (22:4).

Clearly the PCI moderator has broken his oath of faithfulness to the Westminster Confession (opposed as it is to the doctrine, sacraments, worship, discipline and church government of Roman Catholicism) by inviting the Roman Primate of Ireland to be his honoured guest at the opening night of Irish Presbyterianism’s highest assembly. And only three of the twenty-one presbyteries protested, and even then only weakly!

John Calvin: "But as it is necessary for us to separate from the Papists if we wish to follow God, it is better a hundred times to separate from them than to be united together, and thus to form an ungodly and wicked union against God. Agreement or union is, indeed, singularly a good thing, because there is nothing better or more desirable than peace. But we must ever bear in mind, that in order that men may happily unite together, obedience to God's word must be the beginning. The bond, then, of lawful concord among us is this—that we obey God from first to last; for accursed is every union where there is no regard to God and to his word" (Comm. on Jer. 32:39).