My original letter was a comment on the first of the three BBC episodes. The Editor of the ‘Belfast Newsletter’ wished to hold it back from publication until after the last episode was aired. That will take place this evening but I have already viewed it online and have added a line or two to my original letter to deal more comprehensible with the contents of the whole programme.
The length of my letter is a bit more than is suitable for publishing in the ‘Letters Page’ in the printed edition of the Belfast Newsletter so I have submitted a abbreviated copy with the understanding that the full letter will appear on their web page.
Although I was reminded by the BBC only days ago that the first of their programmes entitled: “The House of Paisley”, to which I was invited to partake some months ago, was to be broadcast last night, I entirely forgot to watch it. It was only when I was reminded yet again that it had been aired last night (Monday 3rd April) that I sought out a copy of it on the BBC site and then also watched the two other programmes in the series.
Having watched them with very mixed feelings indeed, I have to liken the ‘documentary’ to the publishing of an assessment of the Lord Jesus Christ by the devil!
It was lacking in an honest evaluation of the man in his earlier years of prominence and it was given over to the opinions of those who hate all that he stood for and desire only the dishonouring of his witness in the 1960s and 1970s.
I knew the man personally and was closely associated with him in many of those tumultuous days. My views are not those of someone who relies on videos, news reports and garbled accounts. I was with the man in pulpits, prayer meetings, protests and prison. Those were days which cannot properly be understood via television documentaries, no matter what objectivity they may claim, which is something these broadcasts lacked entirely.
Syrup-tongued Romanists, whose pious pontifications sought to make Ian Paisley the instigator of the civil unrest from the early 1960s, must surely be seen to be utterly deceitful in the light of the terror campaign of the IRA, a campaign which was supported by many Roman Catholics, including priests and senior prelates.
It is to the shame of some of the Ulster Unionists and other loyalists interviewed, that their criticism of Ian Paisley did nothing but display their ignorance of God’s Word. One spoke disparagingly of Ian Paisley commenting on political affairs as he preached from the Bible.
What about the Saviour’s very frequent severe criticisms of religious and civil leaders as is recorded in many places in the Gospels, particularly Matthew chapter 23? Again, we find the Saviour’s readiness to criticise even King Herod in Luke 13:31-33.
God’s Word has very much to say to the kings, princes, presidents and prime ministers of this world and it is to Him they will give an account for their rejection of its commands! This a faithful minister must preach.
Others interviewed, Republicans and Nationalists, charged Ian Paisley with uttering words which were provocative. Are they so ignorant of the Bible that they do not know that such a charge could be and was made against the Saviour on many, many occasions? The preacher of God’s truth will ever be deemed provocative in a world that “lieth in wickedness,” 1 John 5:19. Surely it is known that many were offended by what the Lord Jesus preached! Let them look up Matthew 15:12-14, where they will see but one of the multitude of occasions when the Saviour’s words of truth offended men. “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
As I listened to the programme and the many recorded statements of Dr Paisley made in those contentious days, my heart rejoiced to hear what was A CORRECT PERCEPTION OF THE ENEMY FACING ULSTER IN THE 1960S AND 1970S.
Sadly, that accurate vision was departed from when Ian Paisley led his party into a power-sharing agreement with Sinn Fein/IRA in 2007. Within a year, the structure of sand that Dr Paisley helped plan and build, began to crumble and soon he was out of the First Minister’s office and then out of the leadership of the DUP. He had ‘moved the ancient landmarks,’ which he had so bravely contended for in the 1960s and early 1970s.
The majority of Unionist politicians have ever since wandered around in a mist of confusion, clearly evidenced by the sad and impotent attempts by DUP representatives to justify the sell-out that power-sharing was!
This mist of confusion has descended as a direct result of the preaching of the modernistic and deceitful message of ‘Ecumenism’. False prophets in once Protestant pulpits have beguiled those loyalists who have submitted to their teaching and believed their fallacious message. That message is, ‘God wills that we rejoin Rome!’
The mainline ‘Protestant’ churches here have utterly departed from the central tenets of the Reformation, to their loss and the Lord’s displeasure!
The message of the Ecumenists has undermined the steely sinews of Bible Protestantism that was once residual in Ulster loyalists. Loosed from the Bible, loyalists have embraced every form of deceit and we see the harvest of that ripening before our eyes as we slide into a state of surrender to Sinn Fein/IRA in Stormont and the barren ‘paradise’ of a united Ireland.
Sadly, even Dr Paisley, the former great warrior against the apostasy within Protestantism, became tainted with that which he had so rightly condemned, when he extolled the writings of the Romanist, Dana Rosemary Scallon, at the launching of a book by her at Stormont. It was reported that he spoke of her as a “a woman of great faith and steel who had stood up for what she believed in,” and added: ‘I’m glad to stand with her.’ He is also quoted in the same article as saying : “I hope that when everyone on this island reads this book I hope they ponder what it says.” (Belfast Telegraph, 7/11/07).
He was present at the opening of a hall belonging to the foremost exponent of Ecumenism, the Church of Ireland, in company with Martin McGuinness, the Joint First Minister. They were joined together again in a joint fund-raising exercise for the Salvation Army and a Roman Catholic charity! Furthermore, to the distress of many believers, he took part in a gathering at which a Roman Catholic priest opened in prayer.
Those events were amongst the first real signs of the slide that was on. How were the mighty fallen indeed!
Highlighting these things, back some fifteen years ago and again today, brings me no joy but rather heartbreak. However, I had learned from Dr Paisley that contending for the faith and for the honour of the Lord Jesus was an integral part of a true gospel ministry.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)