Christians in Northern Ireland are being asked to ‘sign up’ to a declaration “of fundamental religious principles” [see Belfast Telegraph 17 April 1999]. This “declaration” has apparently been drawn up by Brendan McCarthy of Omagh Community Church. Before looking at several points contained in the “declaration” I think it would be helpful for people to know a few things about Mr McCarthy. By his own testimony he was raised as a Roman Catholic who in his teenage years had a ‘charismatic’ experience. He has told publicly of how people from the Protestant churches appeared skeptical at times concerning his ‘conversion’. He studied for the Church of Ireland ministry and back in 1994 was the rector of St Columba’s Church of Ireland church in Omagh. In July of that he year he partnered JESUIT priest John McDade in the Public Debate I organised on the topic ‘Should Protestants and Catholics Worship Together’?
Mr McCarthy and Mr McDade were arguing in favour of joint worship and their opponents [arguing against the concept] were Dave Hunt and Bart Brewer [ex Roman Catholic priest]. Mr McCarthy in his opening submission repeatedly stated ‘how can one sinner saved by grace not worship with another sinner saved by grace’? In pursuing this line of argument he was ignoring the great differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism when it comes to their understanding of (1) ‘a sinner’ (2) ‘saved’ and (3) ‘grace’ for these terms do not have the same meanings in both religious systems. Many people expressed the view after the debate that they were baffled as to why Mr McCarthy had actually left the Roman Catholic church [he has a wife and family which of course would be taboo for a Roman Catholic priest so perhaps this had some bearing on his original decision and if so I would not fault him for that].In June of 1996 he resigned from St Columba’s after his desire to introduce aspects of worship then associated with the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’ caused problems within the church and he went on to head up the new Omagh Community Church. He took a leading role in the public [ecumenical] service held in Omagh after the terrible bomb last year. Concerning this “declaration” which he has drawn up he hopes that people will assemble at Lanyon Place, Belfast [beside the Waterfront Hall] @ 3.00 pm on Saturday 22 May 1999 [the day of the Lord Mayor’s show in Belfast] and declare publicly what is contained in the declaration. I am going to set out various clauses in the “declaration” and then give my comments on them.
‘ACT OF REPENTANCE AND RECONCILIATION’
As a follower of Jesus I…RECOGNIZE that all traditions involved in shaping Irish history have sinned and have been sinned against.
COMMENT ….Here those who claim to be ‘Christian’ in Ireland are being segregated into various “traditions”. Those who are truly Christians do not belong to any ‘tradition’ but they belong to Christ “ye are not your own for ye are bought with a price” 1Cor.6:19-20. ‘Traditions’ don’t sin – people sin!
REPENT of the sins of the tradition of which I am or have been a part
COMMENT ….The same rejection of clause 1 applies here . To see a good example of this ‘sins of the tradition’ nonsense one only has to look at the EVANGELICALS and CATHOLICS TOGETHER IN IRELAND booklet issued last year where the following horrendous ‘joint repentance’ was set out on page 14 ‘we acknowledge with sorrow and shame the genocidal CHRISTIAN persecution of the Jews during the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and more recently the holocaust’. These terrible atrocities were not perpetrated by CHRISTIANS but by baptised Roman Catholics urged on and in some cases brought to power by the Pope and his top brass in the Vatican. Shame on the so-called ‘Evangelicals’ who put their names to such a revisionist [theologically] view of history!
REJECT all covenants and blood sacrifices other than those incorporated in the New Covenant centred on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross
COMMENT …..I have at times heard that much paramilitary activity has been accompanied by taking blood oaths supposedly drawn up during earlier periods of Ireland’s bloody history. I claim no expertise in this subject and am merely assuming that this clause has some reference to these oaths but I am willing to be corrected on this matter. However 2 things do concern me. There is only ONE New Covenant and ONE blood sacrifice [the FINISHED work of Christ on Calvary] which Christians acknowledge so why has Mr McCarthy used the plural ‘those incorporated in the New Covenant’ ? The second point which concerns me is his omission of any reference to Christians rejecting an UNBLOODY SACRIFICE which claims to be a continuation of Christ’s FINISHED sacrifice on the cross and which claims to be TRULY PROPITIATORY [Council of Trent Session XX11 Chapter 2]. This same chapter claims that ‘Christ is…immolated [killed]’ during the SACRIFICE of the Mass even though Paul writes in Romans 6:9 “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him”. This appears to be a rather glaring ommission/oversight on Mr McCarthy’s part until one remembers his staunch advocacy of joint ecumenical worship.
COMMIT myself to spreading the gospel without identifying it with any single culture, political philosophy, ecclesiastical body or national identity
COMMENT ….I share very much his rejection of any linkage between the gospel and culture, politics etc. The problem is ‘WHAT IS “THE GOSPEL”?’ Is it the Historic Evangelical message of an all-sufficient Saviour or is it the false gospel of Rome’s insufficient ‘Saviour’ whose work needs to be supplemented by the good works and sufferings of individuals who have first been ‘energised’ by Roman Catholic Church dispensed ‘grace’ through the priest-ordered sacramental system? No true CHRISTIAN should take anything to do with Mr McCarthy’s ‘ACT OF REPENTANCE AND RECONCILIATION’ as he himself has shown that he is quite comfortable to ‘fellowship’ with the false Roman Catholic ‘gospel’ system and so he should be treated as outlined in Romans 16:17 “Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and AVOID THEM”.
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – December 1999