Re: Synod Of The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland
- Thanks for your answer, Joe.
--- In email@example.com, "kebarrivier"
> "Received a comment on the RPV site which was a question:
> Why did the Synod Of The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland
> cease to exist in 1839?
> Does anybody know?
> Bob S."
> I suppose the question may relate to what is titled "Years of Tension
> and Division: 1830 to 1840" on p. 65-67 of "The Covenanters in
> Ireland: A History of The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland" by
> Prof Adam Loughridge, published by Cameron Press, Belfast, Northern
> Ireland, United Kingdom in AD 1984, with a second edition appearing
> in AD 1987, and a reprint in AD 2000.
> The book can be ordered from Covenanter Bookshop in Belfast, UK, via
> their website at:
> Extracts from the relevant pages follow below.
> In Christ
> Joe du Toit
> Based in Dublin, Republic of Ireland
> Communicant Member of the RPCI at Loughbrickland, Northern Ireland, UK
> "Normally all Bills for presentation to the Synod were licensed by a
> Synodical Committee to ensure that they contained no irrelevant or
> abusive material. In 1826, however, a paper from a minority of the
> members of the Belfast Congregation was brought directly to the
> Synod. Four members of the Synod lodged a strong protest against this
> procedure, but their objection was over-ruled. The contention aroused
> by the decision continued for three years and was not eased until the
> minority was organised into a new congregation and the congregation
> of Knockbracken transferred to another Presbytery in 1829.
> At the centre of this controversy which flared up in different forms
> over the next ten years was the Rev Thomas Houston, the minister of
> Knockbracken In 1830 he accepted the invitation of the synod to
> publish and circulate a magazine throughout the Church, and issued
> the first copy in December 1830, which he called `The Covenanter' In
> the fourth issue in March, 1831, began a series of articles on `The
> Magistracy'. Mr Houston who wrote the articles dealt with the power
> of the civil magistrate in forceful terms, claimed that a magistrate
> must be a Christian in order to administer the law for the glory of
> God and for the public good, and that this authority extended to
> Sabbath-breakers and blasphemers as well as to thieves and murderers.
> The matter of the articles in `The Covenanter' on `The Magistracy'
> was raised in the Synod of 1831. The Synod passed a resolution to
> the effect that the Editor alone was responsible for the statements
> made and the sentiments advocated. Houston continued to use the
> pages of the magazine for the propagation of his views
> Rev John Paul of Loughnourne and Carnmoney, wrote a long letter to
> the Editor of the "Belfast News-Letter" [a popular secular newspaper]
> on the power of the civil magistrate in matters of religion and
> charged the Editor of `The Covenanter' with advocating `persecuting
> principles'. A heated controversy raged for several months in
> the `News-Letter', while Mr Houston continued to publish the articles
> in `The Covenanter'. A crisis was reached at the Synod of 1832 when
> Mr Houston framed a libel against Mr Paul `for slander,
> misrepresentation, error, and disorderly procedure'. The paper
> exhibiting the libel was read in the Synod, received and held `in
> retentis' in the hope that peace might be made between the two
> disputants. While Mr Paul was silent during the year on a matter that
> was now `sub judice', Mr Houston published the Libel in `The
> Covenanter' An attempt to solve the problem was made by the Synod at
> Moneymore in 1833. Two resolutions were adopted by the Synod. The
> first was a somewhat modified version of the views presented by
> Thomas Houston and the second was a disapproval of the conduct by the
> two parties in the case, particularly that of Thomas Houston. Houston
> tendered an apology to Paul, and both men thanked the Synod for their
> resolutions that had helped them to reach a satisfactory agreement.
> An uneasy peace was broken in 1835, when a report from the American
> Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church [RPCNA] was discussed [on]
> whether members of the Church should exercise the elective franchise
> and take active part in civil government. The American Church was
> divided [and so it seemed] the Irish Synod [too]. Mr Houston's
> Congregation, Knockbracken, petitioned the Synod of 1836, to make a
> public declaration of the doctrine of the Church respecting the duty
> of nations and civil rulers. After discussion, a proposal was adopted
> approving the principle of the national establishment of religion,
> but disapproving of the existing civil and religious establishments.
> Mr Paul, supported by three ministers and four elders, dissented from
> this decision.
> The controversy continued for the next four years. The majority party
> led by Mr Houston issued a long statement in 1837 on Civil Government
> that did not please Mr Paul and his supporters Mr Paul and his
> adherents, most of whom were members of the Eastern Presbytery,
> requested the Synod in 1839 to adopt the Testimony of the Scottish
> Reformed Presbyterian Church and Terms of Communion that had been
> recently modified. Synod adopted the Testimony by the Scottish
> Church, but rejected the Terms of Communion. Against this decision
> the Eastern Presbytery dissented. A deadlock was reached. When the
> Synod met as Moneymore in 1840, the Eastern Presbytery entered a
> Protest against the various decisions of Synod on the subject of the
> civil magistrate and declined the authority of the Synod. The
> Protest, which was mainly the work of Dr Paul, as he had then become,
> was directed against Mr Houston on the grounds that he taught
> persecuting principles; that he had represented the Covenanting
> Fathers as wanting to extirpate not principles but persons; that he
> had accorded to the Civil Magistrate in a Gospel Age, powers that
> were consistent with the Mosaic Law; and that intolerable burdens
> were placed on the consciences of Christian People by such teaching.
> The document was signed by 5 ministers and 12 ruling elders. They,
> with the congregations they represented, withdrew from the
> jurisdiction of the Reformed Presbyterian Synod. on 18th October,
> 1842, [they] were constituted as the Eastern Reformed Presbyterian
> Synod In 1902, the Eastern Reformed Presbyterian Synod formally
> united with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in
> Ireland. Half of their congregations, however, took independent
> action, and returned to the fellowship of the Reformed Presbyterian
> Synod of Ireland [RPCI]."