The Challenge Facing PCI Moderator Elect, Rev Sam Mawhinney!
Although the next leader of the church, the Rev Sam Mawhinney, is not in favour of female ordination, the church said it remains its ‘settled’ policy. The general secretary of his church, Rev Trevor Gribben, has stated that the clear, longstanding and settled position of its General Assembly is “that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland ordains men and women on an equal basis”.
That means that Sam Mawhinney belongs to a denomination that stoutly defies the Word of God, as the above statement from its general secretary indicates. It also means, should he become the new moderator in June of this year, he will lead a church in its determined defiance of God and His Truth!
Dr Mawhinney has said he recognised ‘there are people who disagree with me’ on the issue of women ministers. ‘I don’t want to make it a primary issue, but it is something that I hold,’ he added.
Dr Mawhinney is based at Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin city centre and is the first moderator from the Republic of Ireland to be elected in almost a quarter of a century.
Standing up for what the Bible teaches on any subject ought to be a ‘primary issue’ for any who profess faith in Christ. However, in this ecumenical age, flexibility of conscience and pliancy of heart and mind when it comes to principles and obedience to God, are essential qualifications for a moderator of the PCI!!
The ‘settled’ doctrinal position of the PCI is anti-Bible on more issues than the ordination of women as elders and ministers. It long ago ceased to be faithful to the cardinal doctrines of the gospel. Back in the 1920s, almost one hundred years ago, it exonerated a man, a man of heresy, a professor in its theological hall, Professor J E Davey, when he denied the deity of Christ and atonement for sin by His blood.
Professor J E Davey was a graduate of a number of universities, including that of Heidelberg, from which he brought back to Belfast the false and destructive notions of ‘German Rationalism’. In June 1917, he became the youngest person ever appointed to a chair at Assembly’s College, the Presbyterian College in Belfast. It is now called ‘Union College’. He would subsequently hold chairs of Biblical Literature, Hebrew and Old Testament, and New Testament Language, Literature and Theology.
Dr Davey, in 1923, published a book, “The changing vesture of the faith: studies in the origins and development of Christian forms of belief, institution and observance”. This book highlighted his profane anti-Bible theology. Rev James Hunter, then Minister of Knock Presbyterian Church and a member of the committee of management of the College, led the protests against this modernist. Doubtless he would have been encouraged to do so by the sermons of WP Nicholson and his attacks upon liberalism in the pulpits back then. On one occasion WP had said of the Assembly’s College Principal, Dr James Haire: “There couldn’t be anything good from a hare for the Bible teaches it is an unclean animal!” He was right.
Rev James Hunter and others were accused of ‘dirty tactics’, when they issued leaflets against Professor Davey and heckled him at public and church meetings
He had issued one particular leaflet entitled: “The Assembly’s College, a seedbed of Rationalism”, and in these papers warning notes were sounded, quotations were given from the text books used in the College. Dr Paisley, in a sermon on the heresy of Davey, preached in 1983, stated: “The whole of the Church was alarmed – alarmed that a group of ministers should dare to attack ‘The Holiest of All’, the Assembly’s College, and point the finger at the leading Professors of the Church.”
In his sermon, Dr Paisley went on to say: “Instead of trying the Professors for their heresy they tried Rev. James Hunter. They rebuked him for daring to go out and publish these pamphlets, and when he appealed to the General Assembly he was publicly rebuked, by 499 votes to 115, for the action he took in warning the Church about the leavening process of apostasy and heresy which flowed from the Assembly’s College.”
Rev James Hunter and Rev W J Grier, who as a student in Assembly’s College and had sat under Davey’s lectures, and was a key witness against Davey in the trial, were amongst those who formed the Irish Evangelical Church, now called the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, in October 1927. That took place a very short time after the General Assembly upheld the decision to acquit Davey of all charges brought against him by a verdict of 707 votes to 82.
We quote again from the 1983 sermon by Dr Paisley’s on Davey’s heresy. “When a student, Mr. W. J. Grier, Bachelor of Arts, returned from doing two years in Princetown Seminary, and came to finish his final year in Assembly’s College, he was aghast at what Professor Davey was teaching. Another student, Mr. Nesbitt, was also aghast at the statements which the Professor was making. The Rev. W. A. Nesbitt affirmed that when he was a student in Assembly’s College, one day Professor Davey said, ‘The Jewish view was that Jesus was the illegitimate son of Joseph and Mary, and I accept that view.’ Mary was a strumpet and our Lord a bastard, according to Professor Davey.”
This is the man not only exonerated from the charge of heresy but last made moderator of the PCI in 1953. Sam Mawhinney, professing evangelical, plans to follow in his footsteps and lead the PCI on its path of error and apostasy.
Since those days, the PCI has continued down the road of rebellion, with a plethora of ministers espousing unbiblical theological positions. Here is one example.
Sam Mawhinney has supporters of course as this article from the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ shows.
However, while such ministers may ‘whisper’ a protest (for that is all their opposition amounts to), they themselves are guilty of disobeying God’s Word! They maintain their membership in and support for a denomination that has departed from God’s truth when it is their duty to obey God’s call and separate from that denomination.
Here is what the Lord requires of His people in a day of apostasy.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
Again, it is commanded in God’s Word:
“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light,” Ephesians 5:6-8.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away,” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds,” 2 John 1:10-11.
Here is the plain command for the child of God to remain separated from the errors and falsehoods of evil men. Furthermore, we are told that should we fail to do that then we become a ‘partaker’ in their evil deeds!
That is how it is with the likes of Sam Mawhinney and should he go on and become moderator of the PCI, then he but binds himself even closer to its blasphemous defiance of God.
What hinders such ministers in obeying God’s command is, I believe, the ‘reproach’ that will fall upon them should they obey Him and “go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach,” Hebrews 13:13. Standing with Christ will bring upon us the sneering reproach of His enemies, of which there are plenty within the PCI.
What is required is for us all to follow in the footsteps of Moses. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,” Hebrews 11:24-25.
It is not an easy path to tread as Hebrews 11:32-40 indicates. But if on ‘that great day’ we are to hear those blessed words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:21) it is the path we MUST travel.
The path of separation is the path the Free Presbyterian Church avowed at its commencement in 1951 and if we do not persist on it, then the evil morass in which the PCI is at present awaits us too!
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
13th February 2023