The Irish Times reports dialogue from this week’s edition of Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge programme. Had insulting comments been made about Roman Catholics by Northern Ireland Protestants on a BBC programme, they would rightly have been labelled as “sectarian.”
“So you reject the Catholic Church but let them be Protestants because that’s not really a religion?”
“I think most Irish people today are bloody Protestants, cos they watered down Catholicism and dropped the bits that they don’t like.”
“So that’s what Protestantism is? Watered down Catholicism?”
“Yes! It really is!”
Watered down Catholicism? Wrong. In its Preamble and Declaration of 1870 the Church of Ireland describes itself as “the Ancient Catholic and Apostolic Church of Ireland.” There is nothing watery in the declaration:
1. The Church of Ireland doth, as heretofore, accept and unfeignedly believe all the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, as given by inspiration of God, and containing all things necessary to salvation; and doth continue to profess the faith of Christ as professed by the Primitive Church.
2. The Church of Ireland will continue to minister the doctrine, and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded; and will maintain inviolate the three orders of bishops, priests or presbyters, and deacons in the sacred ministry.
3. The Church of Ireland, as a reformed and Protestant Church, doth hereby reaffirm its constant witness against all those innovations in doctrine and worship, whereby the Primitive Faith hath been from time to time defaced or overlaid, and which at the Reformation this Church did disown and reject.
Dropped the bits that they don’t like? Wrong. It was not a question of what we did or did not like, it was a question of what was consonant with Scripture. The 1870 declaration reflected our Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion which contain the following under Article 6,
“Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”
“Let them be Protestants because that’s not really a religion.” Wrong, unless endeavouring to shape the life of the church and one’s own life according to the faith of Christ is seen by O’Connor’s panellists as not really being religious.
A wise colleague, now deceased, used to comment that there was no-one more illiberal than a liberal. RTE seem to prove his observation.