Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Monday, September 24, 2007

The 20th and 21st Centuries: Barthianism, Feminism, Ecumenism, Charismaticism and Reformed Revival

1900 United Free Church (UFC) formed by the union of the majority of the UPC with the majority of the Free Church, although in both cases minorities remain. Sadly, pietism, the spirit of compromise, and a lax view of theological distinctions and subscription to the Westminster Standards are behind these well-intentioned unions, rather than agreement through more faithful adherence to the teachings of Scripture.

1905 The remnant Free Church repeals the legislation allowing man-made hymns and instrumental accompaniment in worship.

1910 Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland formed by the union of the Remonstrant Synod (1830) and the Presbytery of Antrim (1725/26).

1921 Parliament passes an act recognising the spiritual independence of the mainstream Church of Scotland, paving the way for union with the UFC.

1921-22 The Fisherman’s Revival – A great revival breaks out in the north-east of Scotland.

1921-25 In Ireland, revival breaks out through the preaching of W.P. Nicholson, especially in 1922. In Belfast, a new warehouse has to be built to handle the amount of stolen goods that are returned! More than a quarter of the population of Ballymena claim to be born again through the influence of his preaching in 1923.

1926 The PCI allows women elders.

1927-28 Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ireland – False teaching in the Union Theological College of the mainstream PCI by Prof. Ernest Davey goes undisciplined, leading to a secession forming the EPCI, who at this time are called the Irish Evangelical Church. This tiny denomination is more akin to the OPC and the more conservative elements of the PCA, and has close ties with the descendants of the Cameronians, the RPCI (who make no claims to largeness either!).

Liberalism, and particularly Barthianism, would plague the PCI through much of the 20th century, although not to the same degree as other mainstream Presbyterian churches.

1929 The United Free Church eventually joined the Church of Scotland in 1929, although a remnant UFC remain outside. Sadly this union is not in response to advances in faithfulness, but as a result of decline in doctrine and practice.

1930 Remnant UFC ordains first women elders.

1935 Remnant UFC ordains first woman preacher, Elizabeth Barr.

Synod of Munster enters the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

1936 Ecumenical Iona Community established in Scotland by a Church of Scotland minister, George McCleod.

1948 Ecumenical World Council of Churches (WCC) formed. PCI becomes a member. The Roman ‘Catholic Church’ are not members, but the WCC are keen on its participation.

1951 Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster (FPCU) formed by a number of Fundamentalists from various denominations, but mainly the PCI, through the influence of Ian Paisley. This Church theoretically holds to the Westminster Standards, but would be viewed as more Fundamentalist than Reformed (although ultimately all Evangelicals are Fundamentalists), although some of its preachers are certainly very Reformed in their outlook. Interestingly, this Church allows for both paedobaptist and anti-paedobaptist beliefs and practices.

1956 Original Secession Church (the part did not unite with Free Church in 1852) unites with Church of Scotland. A remnant unites with the Free Church.

1958 Accession of the liberal Pope John XXIII.

1959 Remnant UFC elects Elizabeth Barr to moderatorship.

1961 The Vatican sends observers to the WCC meeting in New Delhi.

1962 The Moderator of the Church of Scotland visits the Pope in Rome.

The WCC send observers to the Second Vatican Council.

1965 Ecumenical Corrymeela Community established in Ireland, partly by former members of the Scottish Iona Community.

1966 The Church of Scotland allows women elders.

1968 The Church of Scotland allows women preachers.

1969 “The Troubles” erupt in Northern Ireland.

1972 United Reformed Church (URC) formed from union of Presbyterian Church of England (formerly part of Scottish church) with Congregational Church in England and Wales.

1976 The PCI allows women preachers, although evangelical influence begins to strengthen in the 1970’s.

The FPCU starts its first work in North America.

1978 Strengthening evangelical influence in the PCI leads to its suspension of membership of the WCC.

1980 The PCI completely withdraws its membership of the WCC, although it remains a member of other organisations that are members of the WCC.

1989 Associated Presbyterian Church (APC) splits from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (FPCS) over what they see as liberty of conscience. One of the events that precipitate this division was the attendance by Lord Mackay, who was both an elder in the FPCS and the highest judge in the land, at a funeral mass.

1994 The IRA declares a ceasefire, which they later break.

1997 The IRA declares a second ceasefire.

1998 The Good Friday, or Belfast, Agreement – An agreement is signed between the British and Irish governments and endorsed by all the major parties, except the DUP, in Northern Ireland. This is further endorsed by the Ulster electorate.

2000 The Free Church experiences a split into a majority remnant and the Free Church (Continuing) due to lack of discipline regarding the alleged sexual misconduct of its leading theologian, Donald Macleod. The RPCI, not having sufficient evidence regarding this affair, cuts off relations with the majority Free Church due to the lack of discipline over seriously-erroneous theological statements made by the same professor.

Both Free Churches, together with the RP Churches, the FPCS and the APC still sing psalms exclusively without instrumental accompaniment.

2003 First woman moderator of the Church of Scotland.

2007 Ian Paisley MP MLA MEP becomes the First Minister of the NI Assembly (a secondary legislative body under the British Parliament), sharing government with Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA. He agrees not to stand for re-election to the office of Moderator of the FPCU, due to concerns within the FPCU about his political role as First Minister, although having held this office every year but one since the formation of the denomination.

The PCI General Assembly votes by a slim majority to receive (not adopt) a report that placates the homosexual community, including those within the denomination.


The Church of Scotland is as bad as the PCUSA, and Scotland is the most liberal nation within the United Kingdom. How are the mighty fallen!

Evangelicals still remain within the Church of Scotland, as in many unfaithful “churches”. Outside the Church of Scotland, the divided nature of the evangelical Presbyterian churches and issues with church discipline continue to be a problem.

Pray for Scotland’s revival and reformation!


Although traditional Liberalism is not that prevalent in the PCI and it is not beset with the same degree of error as the Church of Scotland, it still has many serious problems. These include ecumenism, charismaticism, downgrade in worship and ethics, a majority inactive and unbelieving membership, and allowing women to be ordained as preachers and elders. In the opinion of some, Church House and its committees are increasingly centralising the rule within the PCI. In the opinion of others, the PCI is undergoing a gradual, but slow reformation. It is undoubtedly true that God is blessing the faithful evangelistic endeavours of a number of PCI churches in the predominantly Roman Catholic Republic of Ireland.

The RPCI and EPC still maintain a strongly Reformed witness, as they have throughout their existence. Despite their small size, these denominations have an increasingly evangelistic emphasis while maintaining historic, Westminster Presbyterianism. The RPCI is actively planting churches and still adheres to the covenanting beliefs of their forefathers. Throughout most of the north and east of Ulster you can’t travel 15 minutes without coming to a Reformed church.

The FPCU also continues to maintain a strong evangelical witness. It is hoped also that it will move towards a more clearly Reformed outlook, both in theology and practice.

Evangelicals continue to have a significant influence in Northern Ireland, including civil government, but this is declining through the choking effects of materialism.

How we need God’s power in true revival in Ireland once more! Pray for this!


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