Preached September 5th, 1993 by Rev. Ivan Foster
Stream or download Perjuring Prelates
Why there is a reluctance by many Church of Ireland clerics to affirm their belief in Article 31 of the 39 Articles of Religion.
“Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty,” Judges 5:23
The 39 Articles of Religion form the doctrinal basis of Anglicanism. They were first compiled in 1562, finally replacing the Articles compiled in the reign of Henry VIII. Henry’s Articles grew out of the confusion of doctrine that was being preached in the land at that time of reformation and upheaval. Henry sent a circular to all the bishops on 12th July 1536, forbidding all preaching until Michaelmas (September 29th) by which time articles of religion would be set down as a doctrinal guideline. The king himself drew up the articles which were duly agreed by both houses of the Anglican Convocation. They were anything but Biblical and were filled with popish superstition. Baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, purgatory, prayers to saints, holy water, the sign of the cross, kissing the cross and images as part of worship were all sanctioned by Henry’s Articles. In 1552, Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Ridley compiled 42 articles which, after an examination by bishops and learned men, were reviewed by Cranmer and Ridley and ratified by King Edward VII. These articles became the basis of the present 39 Articles.
Article 31 deals with the finished sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. It was a subject that lay at the very heart of the controversy between the Reformers and Rome. The article firstly sets forth the Purpose, Parameters and Peerlessness of the Saviour’s death. It then deals with the false doctrine of Rome. It calls Masses a blasphemous fables and a dangerous deceits. Rome claims that the Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross and that during the Mass, the bread and wine are turned into the actual body and blood of Christ and is then eaten by the worshipper in order to receive eternal life.
In today’s Ecumenical Movement, which is designed to reverse the Reformation, there is a great loathing of these Articles and indeed all the Creeds that come down to us from that time of glorious revival. Anglican ministers, by and large, do not believe them even though they swore to uphold them when they were ordained. Bishop Hannon has epitomised the antipathy of the ecumenists within his church toward these articles by his silent response to my challenge to state clearly that he believes this article. He has affirmed his belief of these articles on a number of occasions during his rise up through the clerical ranks of the Church of Ireland. Such affirmations, however, are lost in the ritual and pomp of Anglican services. I challenged him to proclaim his rejection of the popish mass in a clear and simple manner that could not be disguised by ritual or pomp. That, it appears, he would not do. What does that make the bishop when he is prepared to affirm in the relative privacy of an Anglican service that which he is unwilling to affirm in the much more public arena of a newspaper column? Why is there this reluctance by ecumenists to publicly affirm the teaching of their own churches?
I. THEY NO LONGER REALLY BELIEVE THESE DOCTRINES BUT WISH TO AVOID DRAWING ATTENTION TO THAT FACT
The evidence that they no longer believe these doctrines is clear.
1. They are never heard preaching them.
2. They are most embarrassed by their links with them. Hence his (and that of others) silence in the face of my challenge.
3. They openly fraternise with those condemned by the doctrines. The Bishop calls Christian those whom his Articles call blasphemers and deceivers.
4. Legally and morally Dr. Hannon could not continue as Bishop of Clogher if he told the truth and acknowledged that he does not believe Article 31. So, illegally and immorally, he continues as Bishop by concealing the fact that he rejects his own standards.
II. THEY ARE MEN BLIND TO THE TRUTH OF GOD
They can engage in this masquerade because they cannot see what will be the consequences. They are the present day successors of a long line of opponents of God’s Truth.
1. Blind leaders are not new. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch, Matt 15:14.
2. Some are foolish enough to follow them. Who, why those that are likewise blind, blinded by falsehoods.
3. Such leaders lead astray. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts, Mal 2:8
4. Leaders and led are heading for disaster. Fall into the ditch. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed, Isa 9:16. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, II Pet 2:1.
III. OUT OF CONCERN FOR THE SOULS OF MEN WE MUST CRY OUT AGAINST SUCH FOLLY
Acts 20:29-31, I Tim 4:6.
1. Without the witness of Truth the lie shall flourish. If we see the advance of false gospels today it is a condemning of the silence of those who know the truth. Judges 5:16-17, 23. Too busy with business considerations to help even though like Meroz, near at hand. Meroz is an unknown place now. Cursed indeed.
2. The method of Article 31 is to be followed. Christ commended — the lie condemned. We must preach up Christ and expose the falsehoods that threaten to damn the souls of this generation. This is the method God has ever honoured.
Preached on 5th September 1993.