TREVOR MORROW – ‘REFORMED’ – BUT ‘LIVING IN THE 21ST CENTURY’

I recently obtained a copy of the speaking schedule for a series of meetings to be held in Belfast on Tuesday nights over the winter months [October 2006 – March 2007]. The theme of all the meetings will be ‘TRUTH’.

For the sake of ‘TRUTH’ I feel it is vital therefore to highlight my concerns about one speaker in particular [although there are several others who ‘ring a few alarm bells’ also]. The speaker in question is former Presbyterian Moderator, Trevor Morrow. The title for this article is taken from the promotional leaflet for these meetings, which in Trevor Morrow’s case reads as follows –

TRUTH – FREEDOM or BONDAGE?

13 February 2007: ‘The truth is out there’

Dr Trevor Morrow will bring a challenging application to our

‘TRUTH STUDIES’ as he unpacks his chosen title.

Trevor describes himself as ‘reformed’ but ‘living in the 21st century’. This description is the hallmark of his preaching as he conveys the Truth to his weekly congregation in Dublin and to Convention audiences. He was one of the keynote speakers at ‘KINGDOM COME’ the major Christian event in Belfast in January 2006.

As you will have seen in this ‘write-up’ mention is made of Trevor Morrow having been ‘one of the keynote speakers at ‘KINGDOM COME’ the major Christian event in Belfast in January 2006’. As a ministry we posted a lengthy article warning people of the ultra-ecumenical connection of many of the speakers listed for this event and you can access this article on – http://www.takeheed.info/kingdom-come-should-you-go/

In the article I critiqued quite a number of the speakers lined up for the event, including Trevor Morrow and in relation to him the following is what I wrote –

Trevor Morrow:  Speaker:

Details that demonstrate real ecumenical compromise

Like Ken Clarke [ecumenical Church of Ireland Bishop], Trevor Morrow’s personal endorsement of ‘Power to Change’ [a 2002 ecumenical venture] was also quoted on the same ‘Prayer Alert’ leaflet and it read ‘21st century Ireland is entering a period of moral and spiritual darkness. “Power to Change” provides an opportunity to light beacons of hope all across the nation’. I would surmise that the flood of false ecumenism that I documented and that engulfed ‘Power to Change’ stymied ‘at birth’ any hopes of ‘lighting beacons’ of genuine gospel-hope ‘all across the nation’.

Earlier in relation to Ken Clarke I mentioned the 1998 Belfast launch of the 16-page booklet entitled ‘Evangelicals & Catholics Together in Ireland and I pointed out that Ken Clarke was listed amongst the ‘Group Participants’ who drew up the booklet. Also listed, as a ‘Group Participant’,was Trevor Morrow. As well as the ‘Belfast launch’ for the booklet there was also a ‘Dublin launch’ and I attended the evening meeting there and the chairman for the evening was Trevor Morrow. This was the meeting at which J I Packer was asked by a converted, former Roman Catholic, how he viewed the then Pope, John Paul II, and J I Packer replied that he ‘viewed him as “a fine Christian man” but that he had problems with the office of the Papacy’ – a classic example of “a double-minded man” [James 1:8]

Coinciding with the launch of this booklet was another publication called “Adventures in reconciliation: 29 Catholic Testimonies”. In a brief analysis of this book I concluded by writing ‘it is clear that Christians should have no fellowship with the contributors to this book and should pray for their liberation from Roman darkness”.

In addition to the 29 Catholic ‘Testimonies’ in the 1998 book there was a ‘Preface’ by Cardinal Cahal Daly and an ‘endorsement’ on the back cover by Sean Brady, the then Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and who of course has since succeeded Cahal Daly as Roman Catholic Primate of all Ireland. Sean Brady’s ‘endorsement’ said ‘A rich store of faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus is contained in the testimonies of people from within the Catholic Church… This book is an inspiration to all who wish to follow Christ and grow in love with Him’. There is a ‘Foreword’ by former Presbyterian Moderator, Ken Newell, minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church and who, in spite of requests from a number of genuine evangelical Presbyterian ministers, insisted on going ahead with his invitation to Sean Brady to be one of his personal guests at his installation as Presbyterian Moderator.

In the book there were also 4 ‘Commendations’, one of which was by Trevor Morrow. This ‘Commendation’ contained one of the most devious scripture-twisting segments I have ever read – twisted in order to malign true evangelicals who in obedience to God’s Word separate from those who are trusting in the false ‘gospel’ of Roman Catholicism. In his article promoting ‘Kingdom Come’, Stephen Cave [Evangelical Alliance] wrote – ‘others, particularly after New Horizon this summer cannot wait to hear Trevor Morrow lead the morning Bible readings’ – I wonder if you will share Stephen Cave’s enthusiasm in the light of what I will shortly explain!

Before quoting what Trevor Morrow wrote could I mention that the same ‘scripture-twisting’ views were voiced in a sermon preached by another now, former Presbyterian Moderator, called Russell Birney, on 7 November 1999 and you can read my full analysis of what Mr Birney said by following this link to our March 2000 ministry newsletter – the article is entitled ‘Ecumenical “stones for bread” in Ballymena’.

http://www.takeheed.info/news-from-the-front-march-2000/

Now, to return to what Trevor Morrow wrote in his ‘Commendation’ [pages 26-27]. He wrote –

‘For Presbyterians like myself, who still hold to the principle of the Reformation – of justification by faith alone, the implications are straightforward. If these [’29 Catholic’] testimonies are evidence of real faith in Christ, then whatever our theological differences, these Roman Catholic believers are justified by faith alone, and so are our brothers and sisters in Christ’.

Let me pause here in what Trevor Morrow wrote and point out that the section I have underlined is according to Rome a theological impossibility. Rome teaches that its ‘believers’ are NOT ‘justified by faith alone’ as this quote from the officially approved Roman Catholic ‘Most Rev Dr James Butler’s Catechism’ illustrates. On page 26, question 7 reads, ‘Are we justified by faith alone without good works?’ and the answer begins clearly and simply ‘No:’ Trevor Morrow continued –

‘In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he saw this doctrine [justification by faith alone] as vital for Christian fellowship and freedom. The Jewish Christians from Jerusalem had come down to Galatia and were fearful that Paul’s message of justification apart from the work of the law would undermine the traditions and identity of their Jewish inheritance. [In Matthew 23:13 the Lord was more concerned that a similar problem that he identified had the damning effect of “shutting up the kingdom of heaven”] They were insisting that it was not enough for a Gentile to believe in Jesus Christ. They also had to keep the laws of Judiasm; to be circumcised, to keep the dietary requirements, to observe the Jewish Sabbaths and festivals, in order for them to be accepted as Christians. It became for them a criteria for fellowship. Paul rails against this. If someone insists that something else is required, apart from faith, in order to accept a person as a fellow Christian, or as a basis for fellowship, then they, says Paul, are preaching a false gospel’.

Trevor Morrow is teaching that Paul’s argument with the Judaisers was centred upon what the basis for ‘fellowship’ should be. This is Mr Morrow’s  ‘devious scripture-twisting’ that I referred to earlier. Paul’s argument was not dealing with the basis of ‘Christian fellowship’ but with the basis for ‘salvation’. “The gospel of Christ [alone] is the power of God unto salvation” [Romans 1:16] and the Judaisers were preaching a ‘gospel’ of ‘Christ + works’ [just like Rome] that can never “save” anyone and so these preachers and their ‘gospel’ were placed under God’s curse[Galatians 1:8-9]. Paul positively encourages the discernment of and separation from such false teachers whereas Trevor Morrow teaches that those who rightly exercise Biblical discernment and separation are the ones who are in error.

I mentioned earlier that Russell Birney put this same false teaching forth in a sermon and at the end of my article on that sermon I wrote this –

‘By being willing to publicly fellowship with those who claim to be ‘Evangelical’ but still ‘Catholic’ [ie – still wedded to a false gospel] Mr Birney is guilty of the role played by Peter in the ‘Galatian error’.

Trevor Morrow, by what he wrote in his ‘Commendation’ is likewise guilty of mimicking the role played by the Apostle Peter in the ‘Galatian error’. 

The ‘ecumenical’ credentials of Trevor Morrow are however much more extensive and also include the following that space prevented me from detailing in my ‘KINGDOM COME’ report.

At the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland held in June 1989 a vote was taken and in consequence a decision was made to oppose Presbyterian Church membership of a proposed new ecumenical body being set up known as ‘The Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland’. A report by Michael Devine in the Belfast Telegraph of 28 June 1989 included the following “The assembly voted overwhelmingly against the new inter-church body which includes the Roman Catholic Church of England and Wales”.

Mr Devine’s report also included the following – ‘The leader of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic, DR TREVOR MORROW, has strongly attacked the decisions taken earlier this month to oppose membership of the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland and to call for the suspension of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. He said the decisions reflected a negative, siege mentality and created the impression of a church “gripped with insecurity and fear”…DR MORROW told a meeting of the Dublin and Munster Presbytery yesterday that the decisions highlighted the need for “deep and radical repentance within the church”.

Earlier in the month, just after the decisions had been taken, the Belfast Telegraph editorial ‘Viewpoint’ of Friday 9 June 1989 read as follows –

‘The Presbyterian Church has taken another step backwards by deciding not to join the new inter-church body which will replace the[ecumenical] British Council of Churches next year. The main reason for the rejection by the Assembly appears to be that the Roman Catholic Church will be a full member of the Council of Churches in Britain and Ireland [CCOBI]…A senior minister, the Rev Harold Allen[A Freemason in whose church in Ballyclare a ‘Boys Brigade Masonic Lodge 619’ [a direct reference to Hebrews 6:19] was constituted on 19 March 1988] is reported as saying that the church has “disgraced itself”…the point being made by some of the most strident voices would seem to be that Catholicism is not even a Christian religion…The new council of course accepts all the main churches as Christian…For the Presbyterians to exclude themselves from this debate…is to ensure that they become more inward-looking, self-satisfied and ultimately irrelevant…Churchmen who cannot join a club which contains Catholics can hardly deliver moral lectures to politicians here or in Britain about their policies for Ulster [Here we see the Belfast Telegraph foolishly equating the important issue of Biblically faithful spiritual ‘fellowship’ with political ‘co-operation’]Those who were defeated yesterday, as they were beaten over the more controversial issue of World Council of Churches membership in 1978, must fight, fight and fight again, for everyone’s sake’.

In response to the comments of Trevor Morrow that had been published in the Belfast Telegraph of 28 June 1989, a letter from Rev John Linkens [secretary of the ‘Campaign for Concerted Witness to Reformed Truth’ – an evangelical body made up of Presbyterian Ministers and elders within the Presbyterian Church] was published by the Belfast Telegraph and this is part of what Mr Linkens wrote –

‘It was sad to read the remarks of Trevor Morrow… in which he unfairly attacked the decision of the General Assembly not to join the new Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland. Dr Morrow must remember he is one of a minority that wishes to become a member of the new body. It is incompatible with Christian grace to infer that the majority is “gripped with insecurity and fear” and “reflected a negative, siege mentality”. Were Luther and Calvin motivated by such problems when they refused to be involved with the Church of Rome? There is no shame in belonging to a majority, which has such Reformed stalwarts… Dr Morrow stated that those who voted to veto our entry into the new body are afraid that because of Roman Catholic participation “our distinctive reformed witness and identity could be undermined”. Nothing could be further from the truth, and Dr Morrow knows it. Reformed opinion has nothing to fear from the Church of Rome, but to give the impression that the Church of Rome is just another denomination with whom we can meet on equal terms is misleading to say the least. The Church of Rome has not changed in essence since Luther’s days [except of course for the worse by adding a few other heretical dogmas such as ‘Papal Infallibility’ and ‘Mary’s bodily assumption]… We regret the arrogance of Dr Morrow when he suggests that the clear decision taken by the Presbyterian Church “highlighted the need for deep and radical repentance within the Church”. We would remind him that the decision was motivated by a desire to be obedient to the Word of God’.

Moving on some 11 years the Presbyterian ‘Press Office’ circulated a press release headed ‘Morrow is nominated as Moderator-Designate’ and part of the release stated ‘The Presbyterian Church has elected its youngest Moderator ever, Dr Trevor Morrow, minister of Lucan Presbyterian Church outside Dublin…Born in Lisburn in 1948 Dr Morrow is 51 and 4 months, 5 months younger than the previous youngest moderator, Dr Godfrey Brown who held office in 1988…Dr Morrow describes himself as “reformed and orthodox but living in the 21st century”[sounds familiar] and looks forward to his year of office…Committed to reconciliation and evangelism…he also sees the need for a “movement for change” within the Church] [after his 1989 outbursts can we guess what he had in mind?].

On 2nd February 2000 the Belfast Telegraph published an article by Noel McAdam entitled Dublin radical is voted moderator’. Part of that article stated –

‘The Rev Dr Morrow (51) was elected as the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church despite predictions that he would be viewed as too liberal…Born in Lisburn where he said he did not know any Catholics as a child he also made clear today his commitment to ecumenism which he said was viewed as a theological swear word in some parts of the Church. Unlike the last few leaders of the Church…Dr Morrow will be willing to take part in joint acts of worship with Roman Catholics’.

Later that year Noel McAdam had another article published on 16 September 2000 in which he wrote –

‘The new Presbyterian moderator has controversially argued that the Reformation never really took hold in Ireland. Dr Trevor Morrow said Christians in Northern Ireland adhere to “unnecessary conventions and traditions”…In a new book the Lisburn-born leader…said many in Northern Ireland had been brought up on an “extraordinary cocktail” of evangelical conviction, cultural identity, political aspiration and a commitment to the six counties…Called “Free to Love – A Manifesto for Christian Freedom” [just a reminder here that the title of his planned Tuesday night talk in February 2007 is ‘TRUTH – FREEDOM or BONDAGE?’]  the publication aims to challenge Christians. In the collection of five addresses on the theme of Paul’s letter to the Galatians …Dr Morrow said it was not surprising that society is confused…He said the denominations in Ireland had reflected ethnic divisions with the Church of Ireland from England, Presbyterians from Scotland and the Roman Catholics of Celtic Ireland. [Where in Mr Morrow’s thinking do the non Roman Catholic St Patrick and his evangelical influence fit into this ‘Celtic Ireland’?] “It is one reason why I am convinced that the Reformation never really took hold in Ireland. The Doctrines of Grace have never really been heard in Celtic Ireland”.’

Let me just repeat here what I wrote earlier about Mr Morrow’s handling of the problems in Galatia that prompted the Apostle Paul to write his letter to the Galatians,

Trevor Morrow is teaching that Paul’s argument with the Judaisers was centred upon what the basis for ‘fellowship’ should be. This is Mr Morrow’s  ‘devious scripture-twisting’ that I referred to earlier. Paul’s argument was not dealing with the basis of ‘Christian fellowship’ but with the basis for ‘salvation’. “The gospel of Christ [alone] is the power of God unto salvation” [Romans 1:16] and the Judaisers were preaching a ‘gospel’ of ‘Christ + works’ [just like Rome] that can never “save” anyone and so these preachers and their ‘gospel’ were placed under God’s curse [Galatians 1:8-9].

Could it be that Trevor Morrow is planning to re-run some of his aberrant teachings on Paul’s letter to the Galatians when he addresses the subject of ‘Truth – Freedom or Bondage’ in February 2007? I make no claims to be a ‘prophet’ so please don’t come looking to ‘stone me’ if he doesn’t adopt this approach in his planned talk.

In my comments about Trevor Morrow’s mishandling of the central issue that Paul was dealing with, namely ‘salvation’ and not ‘fellowship’ I likened Rome to ‘The Judaisers’ that Paul was trying to warn God’s people about.  In his excellent book, ‘Salvation, The Bible and Roman Catholicism’,former Roman Catholic, William Webster titled chapter 7 ‘Roman Catholicism, the Judaisers and the Book of Galatians’. In it Mr Webster wrote [p 85] ‘The Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on the Mass, the Priesthood, Confession, Penance, the Eucharist, and baptism all combine to form a system of salvation…there is a huge contrast between the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the teaching of the Bible. This alone is enough to disqualify the Roman Catholic Church from being a truly Christian church…we can say conclusively that the Roman Catholic Church teaches a false gospel and a false way of salvation. This can be clearly seen from Paul’s teaching in his letter to the Galatians’…For us fully to understand how the Judaisers’ teachings perverted the gospel and how they specifically relate to the teachings of Roman Catholicism [p 89]…Note the following parallels between Roman Catholicism and the Judaisers [p 92]

JUDAISERS

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God

Belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God

Circumcision

Baptism

Become a Jew

Become a Roman Catholic

Sacrificial System

Sacrificial System

Priests

Priests

High Priests

Popes

Altars

Altars

Laver of water

Font of Holy water

Feast days

Feast Days

Dietary Regulations

Dietary Regulations [until recently]

Candles

Candles

Incense

Incense

Shew Bread

Eucharistic Wafer

Keep the Ten Commandments

Keep the Ten Commandments

Traditions of the Elders

Traditions of the Church Father

William Webster continues [p 93-94] ‘Thus the same charge as the apostle Paul levelled against the Judaisers can also be levelled against the Roman Catholic Church. The message of Galatians applies directly to the Roman Catholic Church because its gospel is the same as that of the Judaisers…They were perverting the gospel and leading men to perdition…To adhere to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on salvation is to accept the teaching of a Judaising system which is denounced by God in Galatians because it is a false gospel’.

It is a supreme irony that TREVOR MORROW attempted to use his understanding of Paul’s letter to the Galatians in the ‘Commendation’ that he wrote for the book ‘Adventures in Reconciliation: 29 Catholic Testimonies’. In the light of the writings I have quoted by former Roman Catholic, William Webster, no book in the whole of the Bible is LESS SUITED for the false teaching that Trevor Morrow was trying to posit. Should Mr Morrow try to use his published views on ‘Galatians’ in his talk ‘TRUTH – FREEDOM or BONDAGE’ perhaps I could close by quoting what Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us [non-Judaisers] free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 30 October 2006

 

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