Response to ‘Newsletter’ article on Rev Ian Brown

Rev. Ian Brown, minister at Martyrs Memorial FPC

“Rev Ian Brown: Martyrs Memorial cleric finally opens up on why he did not attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral – despite a personal invitation”

So read the headline in a ‘Belfast Newsletter’ article of Wednesday, 21st September.

I understand from Rev Brown himself, that he did not attend the funeral for the late Queen because the funeral service was a highly ecumenical service, with representatives present from just about every religion in the United Kingdom.

However, that is not stated in the ‘Newsletter’ article.

What I find very disturbing as a Free Presbyterian who wishes to remain faithful to my ordination oath, whereby I promised before God, in response to the following question: “Will you maintain with all the strength God shall give you the truly Scriptural separation position of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and vigorously withstand the apostasy of Irish Presbyterianism exhorting God’s people the teaching and commandment of I Timothy 6:3-5?” — a very positive “YES”!

It is reported in the ’Newsletter’ that: “The News Letter has spoken to a range of Free Presbyterian clerics from across NI today, and it was clear many of them took that view the funeral service was “ecumenical” or in their view, promoting joint worship involving a range of religions.

However it was also clear some did not see it in that light; others saw it as a state occasion no different to state-led war remembrance ceremonies, where a variety of faith leaders may take part in order to represent the various faiths of military personnel.”

The ’some’ referred to take much upon themselves to declare that there are occasions that the Free Presbyterian ordination oath does not apply and it is in order to fellowship with those God’s Word forbids us to fellowship with.

This group, be it large or small, seems to have forgotten that the Lord, in His Word, anticipated such false reasoning and gave us examples of what godly men do when faced with ‘state occasions’ which defy His Word. I refer of course to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and of course, Daniel.

These men were high officials in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and in Daniel’s case, also in the court of Darius the Median, who overthrew the kingdom of Babylon. The ‘state occasions’ which they were confronted with are well known to Christians and are fully reported in Daniel chapters 3 and 6. These men, even when facing death, refused to see a ‘state occasion’ as grounds for disobeying God’s Word.

The verse to which the ordination oath particularly binds each Free Presbyterian minister and elder is I Timothy 6:3-5. It reads: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” The words ‘withdraw thyself’ come from a very strong Greek word meaning to ‘shun’, to ‘excite to revolt’!

There can be no doubt in the meaning of the word and that there are NO EXCEPTIONS TO THE COMMAND TO WITHDRAW from those who “consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness.”

There is another verse that is most familiar to most Free Presbyterians though apparently not given the honour by all to what it says.

The verse is 2 Corinthians 6:17. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

The words which indicate the degree of separation the Lord requires of His people are the words ‘touch not the unclean thing’. The definition of the word ‘touch’ is given us in many places in the ceremonial law of Leviticus. “This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days,” Numbers 19:14. In this verse we see that the Lord considers one who merely comes into the tent, as one who has touched the unclean thing.

There are no occasions when the Lord sanctions a breach of I Timothy 6:3-5 or of 2 Corinthians 6:17. Of course, history tells us that the second or third generation of a body of people who have formerly adhered faithfully to the teaching of these verses, begin to look around for a form of words and bogus reasoning whereby they can avoid obedience and appear to offer justification for defying God’s Word.

The Free Presbyterian Church was called into existence by the Lord to fight this very chicanery within the main Protestant denominations. Now that which we were called of God to resist and which each minister swore that he would steadfastly battle against, is apparently being embraced by those who would suggest that there times and situations when it is perfectly in order to set aside God’s truth and their solemn oath.

Such reasoning has been the means of ruin amongst the ecumenical churches which blatantly ignore the Word of God and the teaching of their own creeds and confessions.

That is apostasy. Those who reason, as apparently do the ‘some’ referred to in the ’Newsletter’ report, are taking the first steps down the road that leads to apostasy, the judgment of God and eternal damnation, if not for themselves, most certainly for those they lead astray!

Have not the Free Presbyterian Church pulpits thundered forth, in the past, this very truth against the ecumenical denominations? Are we now going to embrace the very error and sin that we have railed against and condemned in others.

What hypocrites that would make us!

Every Free Presbyterian member has a duty to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”  (Jude 3) and that means challenging their minster or elder who dares to espouse such deceit. Polite silence is not considered to be such by the Lord. He deems it cowardly dumbness.

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin,” James 4:17.

There is still a faithful remnant within the Free Presbyterian Church who ‘knoweth to do good’. Let them not become guilty of sin by doing nothing!

“Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seemeth him good,” 2 Samuel 10:12.


Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)

Thursday 22nd September 2022