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Re: Synod Of The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland

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  • bob_suden
    Thanks for your answer, Joe.
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 29, 2008
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      Thanks for your answer, Joe.

      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "kebarrivier"
      <josefdutoit@...> wrote:
      > "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?
      > Thanks,
      > 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:
      > http://www.covenanterbooks.com/book/author/Adam%20Loughridge
      > 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]."
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