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The idea of this resources section is to make available an ever-increasing collection of materials to highlight the errors of Romanism and all that’s false, and highlight the glories of the gospel.Read More
The PTS Annual Cambridge Lecture will be held (D.V.) on Monday November 25, 2019, 7.30pm, at The Round Church, Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1UB.
Duncan Boyd will be speaking on The Protestant Constitution after Brexit, and there will be opportunity for questions after the lecture.
On October 17 the PTS Chairman, The Rt Rev. Dominic Stockford, wrote as shown below to the Bishop of Oxford, The Rt Rev. Dr Steven Croft, with concern over the invitation to a Muslim imam to preach at a service of Holy Eucharist.
Dear Bishop Croft,
I am sure that you are aware that Canon Law B18.2 states that “the sermon in Anglican worship shall be preached by a minister, deaconess, reader or lay worker duly authorized in accordance with Canon Law. At the invitation of the minister having the cure of souls another person may preach with the permission of the bishop of the diocese given either in relation to the particular occasion or in accordance with diocesan directions.”
It is reported that a Muslim imam has been invited to preach at the Service of Holy Eucharist at the University Church of St Mary, Oxford, this Sunday morning next, at 10.30 am. Can you please confirm that you have given a non-Christian religious teacher permission to preach at this act of Christian worship, in contravention of the Canon Law of the Church of England? If you have given no such permission, can you please enlighten us as to the steps you are taking to prevent this blasphemy?
Rt Rev Dominic F Stockford
Protestant Truth Society
This elicited the following Statement in response:
Statement from the Diocese of Oxford published 17 October 2018
Monawar Hussain MBE DL will deliver the University Sermon following the Eucharist at St Mary’s this Sunday. He is most welcome. Founder of the Oxford Foundation and the Muslim Tutor at Eton College, Monawar is well known to many in Oxford and he joins a long list of those invited to preach the University Sermon by the Vice Chancellor. Monawar is not the first person from another faith community to be invited to preach the University Sermon, his presence on Sunday reflects the strong commitment of the Church, University and other faith communities to interfaith engagement.
Earlier this year the UK Supreme Court heard the case of Ashers Baking Company, who were appealing against a ruling which stated that it broke the law by declining to fulfil an order to decorate a cake with a campaign slogan promoting ‘marriage’ between homosexuals, which was deeply offensive to the management who are sincere Christians. The ruling, handed down on 10 October 2018, saw the judges unanimously vindicate the bakery.
The Rt Rev. Dominic Stockford, Chairman of the PTS Council remarked:
It is a victory for freedom of expression. This means it is a victory for the freedom to express our faith, and to live by that faith – competing ideologies notwithstanding.
The factual background as expressed in the Judgment of the Supreme Court on October 10, 2018 in Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd and others  UKSC 49 is as follows:
On 8 or 9 May 2014, Mr Lee went into the shop and placed an order for a cake to be iced with his design, a coloured picture of cartoon-like characters “Bert and Ernie”, the QueerSpace logo, and the headline “Support Gay Marriage”. Mrs McArthur took the order but raised no objection at the time because she wished to consider how to explain her objection and to spare Mr Lee any embarrassment. Mr Lee paid for the cake. Over the following weekend, the McArthurs decided that they could not in conscience produce a cake with that slogan and so should not fulfil the order. On Monday 12 May 2014, Mrs McArthur telephoned Mr Lee and explained that his order could not be fulfilled because they were a Christian business and could not print the slogan requested. She apologised to Mr Lee and he was later given a full refund and the image was returned to him.
In a statement outside the Supreme Court, Daniel McArthur, General Manager of Ashers Baking Company declared:
I want to start by thanking God. He has been with us during the challenges of the last four years. Through the Bible and the support of Christians, He has comforted us and sustained us. He is our rock and all His ways are just.
We’re delighted and relieved at today’s ruling. We always knew we hadn’t done anything wrong in turning down this order. After more than four years, the Supreme Court has now recognised that and we’re very grateful. Grateful to the judges and especially grateful to God.
We’re particularly pleased the Supreme Court emphatically accepted what we’ve said all along – we did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself.
The judges have given a clear signal today. In fact it couldn’t be clearer. Family businesses like ours are free to focus on giving all their customers the best service they can – without being forced to promote other people’s campaigns.
14th May, 2018.
The Council of the Protestant Truth Society register their deep disappointment and dismay at the appointment of the Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, Primate of the Episcopal Church in the USA as preacher for the wedding of His Royal Highness Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the 19th day of this month.
Whilst wishing Prince Harry and Meghan a long and happy marriage, imbued with the blessings of God, we cannot withhold the deep spiritual concern we have that it should begin at a service which will have a preacher who does not hold to the Biblical view of marriage so beautifully expressed in the Service of the Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England.
With great concern we note that despite being invited to preach at this high-profile wedding he does not believe in Biblical marriage (Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh”). At this of all weddings, taking place in the United Kingdom, involving the 6th in line to the throne, whose monarch (the groom’s grandmother) promised at her coronation that she would: “…to the utmost of [my] power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel. [And] to the utmost of [my] power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.”
The Episcopal Church, Bishop Curry’s denomination, has acted contrary to the Bible and to the “Protestant Reformed Religion” by accepting so called ‘same-sex-marriage’, for which it has been suspended from full participation in the Anglican Communion (the world-wide Church of England). The suspension is specifically because these views on, and actions over, marriage are “a fundamental departure from the faith”.
This abrogation of Biblical truth by the denomination that he oversees, and his personal views on the matter, make him utterly unsuitable as a preacher at this occasion. It is beyond credibility that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York would not know of the liberal and unbiblical views he holds as it was they who were the prime movers in this suspension of the ECUSA from the Anglican Communion.
We therefore request that his invitation be withdrawn and that a suitable preacher who holds to the Gospel as it is written, and to the “faith once delivered unto the saints”, be appointed forthwith.
Rt Rev Dominic Stockford
Chairman, Protestant Truth Society
How important is the Protestant Reformation to you? Five hundred years have passed since Martin Luther published his 95 Theses. Our modern age considers events that old to be of no relevance; we have a very short-sighted view of both the past and the future. Students of history will know that what resulted from the Martin Luther’s challenge is of lasting importance.
In the first place, the Protestant Reformation was a revival of true religion. The way of salvation had been lost, and the worship of the triune God had been replaced with a ritual that had very little to do with biblical worship. Rather than teaching that sinners are justified by faith, as the Apostle Paul taught in, for instance, the Epistle to the Romans, the Church prior to the Reformation taught that salvation is to be had by doing what the Church teaches. In particular, submission to baptism, confession and penance, and attendance at the mass, conferred grace on the individual. Application could be made to the saints, and to the treasury of merit, to make up any shortfall in the amount of grace needed to counterbalance the sins a person had committed. Worship was therefore not a matter of giving praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for saving us from our sins, but of engaging in a ritual that had form but lacked content.
In the second place, the Protestant Reformation was a rediscovery of the true text of the Bible. Before the Reformation the Church believed that the Latin Bible was the pure and unadulterated Word of God. In 1581 Theodore Beza gave Cambridge University a manuscript of part of the New Testament. It is known as Codex Beza Cantabrigiensis, or Codex D. It consists of most of the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and 3 John. Even these parts are not complete, due to the ravages of age. Beza gave the manuscript because religious wars in Europe posed a real danger to the survival of much of the source material for the Reformation. Codex D is not a particularly valuable manuscript, in that it differs from the standard text in too many places. Its real interest lies in the fact that it is a diglot, consisting of pages of Greek beside pages of Latin. Neither is a translation of the other, but both are independent. In other words, two different Bibles were in existence from an early time: scholars date the beginning of the manuscript to around ad 250. (It has had a somewhat chequered history, with indications of around a dozen different hands making corrections to if over a long period.) The Latin is a form of the Old Latin which preceded Jerome’s translation, known as the Vulgate. That was the version used in the Western Church, with all its errors. When Greek-speaking scholars began to migrate to the West, following the sack of Constantinople in 1203, they brought their manuscripts with them. Among them were copies of the New Testament in Greek. When Erasmus began to study them he was moved to produce an edition of the Greek text, which he published alongside his new Latin translation in 1516. Over the next two decades he revised the Greek, and others continued the work into the seventeenth century, culminating in the Received Text of 1633. All the Reformation Bibles, in English, German, Dutch, Italian, French and other languages, came about because a reliable text was available, and because scholars had the skills to translate from Greek and Hebrew accurately.
In the third place, the Protestant Reformation was a restoration of biblical practices. We find within the pages of the New Testament certain warnings concerning the troubles that would arise in the Church. See, for instance, Acts 20:28–31, where Paul warned the Ephesian elders of ‘grievous wolves’ who would enter in from outside, and that ‘of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things’. The subsequent history of the Church shows that warning to have been entirely accurate. Heresy broke out in place after place, and time after time. The legacy of the early ecumenical councils, and of the creeds they formulated, stands as a testimony to the hard-fought and hard-won battle for orthodoxy. Orthodoxy began to lose ground to practices that arose during the early centuries, which, in time, became the new orthodoxy. Any who challenged transubstantiation, purgatory, the invocation of saints, and the adoration of relics was liable to severe punishment, including death. But when the Protestant Reformation arrived, people began to see that the Bible did not support these beliefs. In fact, the Bible contradicted and condemned them.
In the fourth place, the Protestant Reformation was a revival of expository preaching. The Church had never ceased to preach, though what passed for preaching during the late mediaeval period was nothing like the preaching that would become standard. Then, preaching consisted of stories with morals, aimed at either frightening people away from sinful behaviour, or encouraging them to acts of charity from the examples of the saints. Priests and friars would make up stories if they could not find a true one that fitted the point they wished to make. Many of the stories included fantastic elements, such as talking horses. When the Protestant Reformation came, men began to preach with a new-found fervour. There was now a sense of urgency. Preachers understood the grave danger in which people lived without the knowledge of the truth, and public preaching, as well as the more regular preaching in churches, became a feature of the Reformation times. The Bible was their source, salvation was their theme, and the glorifying of Christ their aim. Sermons that have survived from the period put much modern preaching to shame. There was genuine conviction, and confidence in the grace and power of God to perform a work of grace in the hearts and lives of hearers. Preaching was seen to be the means by which the gospel is to be declared, and the men who were called to preach trusted that the Lord would use the means he had given.
In the fifth place, the Protestant Reformation was the means of overthrowing the gasping power of the Pope. Rome has claimed the primacy for her bishop over all the other bishops (however we understand that word). The Bishop of Rome believes he is the universal father, He claims to be the heir to Peter, to whom, Rome teaches, was given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whoever sits on Peter’s chair is therefore the representative of Christ on earth. All authority in the Church derives from this office, so that all bishops, cardinals, priests and so on act as representatives of the Pope. He has power over all the people on earth, from the lowliest commoner to the most majestic monarch. All must bow before him. The Protestant Reformers, and some who preceded them, saw in the papacy the fulfilment of Paul’s warnings in 2 Thessalonians 2, concerning the man of sin ‘who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God’ (v.4). The greatest exposition of this passage was made by Bishop Christopher Wordsworth in his treatise, Is the papacy predicted by St Paul? It is a masterly treatment of the Greek text, and he proves that the Pope is the great enemy of Christ. The Reformers all took this view, and delighted that the light of the gospel, as rediscovered in the true text of the Bible, was the instrument by which the pope’s pretended power could be dispersed, and men and women, as well as nations, could be freed from his malevolent influence and superstitious teaching. Why so many so-called Protestant churches are in thrall to the Bishop of Rome today is a mystery—or would be, were it not for Paul’s warnings of the failings within the church, as we saw in Acts 20.
Our debt to the Protestant Reformation is enormous. There was a time when these things were well know.n. They are hardly known at all today, but they should be. Let us be clear as to the benefits and blessing we enjoy because of the Protestant Reformation. Let us ever give thanks to God for them.
After a briefly overheard radio interview with the current head of the CPS, I was left feeling very concerned. As one can see from the comments below that I have found about that interview since, and about the role that the CPS see themselves as having, we are entering a new era for sincere Christians and for Bible preachers.
‘Hate crime’ is defined by the CPS as a criminal offence . . . perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person’s disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.
In order to treat a crime as a hate crime for the purposes of investigation, there is no need for evidence to prove the aggravating element.
Crown Prosecution Service
Any online comment made by a Christian supporting Biblical teaching on morality can, under the above definitions, be regarded as a criminal act if someone so wishes. Indeed, this very comment might be taken by someone somewhere to be a ‘hostile or prejudiced’ attack on their chosen lifestyle. We cannot be far away, either, from the more aggressive amongst those opposed to Biblical teaching deliberately attending Sunday worship services in order to find comments made in sermons, church notices, and newsletters that they perceive as a ‘Hate Crime’.
Not only must we pray for our preachers, that they will continue to speak the ‘full-orbed gospel’, and that the Lord will embolden and strengthen them in their task – but we must also pray for those who seek to shut down the speaking of biblical truth. They are lost without the Lord, and with their thinking as they do our nation will continue to head down a dark and dismal path. We should also pray for ourselves, for the same challenge approaches all of us, that we will trust the Holy Spirit to place in our mouths the words we need should it confront us.
And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12)
The A75 road between Castle Douglas and Stranraer, in South-West Scotland, has been regarded by some as the most scenic road in the country. Certainly it passes through countryside with a history not to be forgotten. One prominent reminder is a near-sixty foot monument on Boreland Hill, above Gatehouse of Fleet, which, since 1842, has carried the inscription:
To the memory of the Rev. Samuel Rutherford, in admiration of his eminent talents, extensive learning, ardent piety, ministerial faithfulness … in the cause of civil and religious liberty.
A visit to the spot reveals that the great stone blocks which make the monument were built by public subscription, and then rebuilt in 1851 after being struck by lightning. From that date to the present it has stood but is now in urgent need of repair. By means of a photograph taken from a drone, it has been discovered that the pointing of the top eight courses of stone work has been seriously affected by frost and water damage, which now threatens the whole structure. Scaffolding will be needed, and the monument, though visible from afar, is not easily accessible.
Out of concern to address this need, the Gatehouse Development Initiative (a registered charity, located at 56 High Street, Gatehouse of Fleet, DG7 2DA, Scotland) has raised £20,000 and stated: ‘We are determined not only to restore the monument and to improve access to it but also to draw attention to the life and work of Samuel Rutherford, which are as relevant today as they were in the seventeenth century.’ But a further £6,000 is needed, and an appeal to the wider public for help is now made. Given the current appreciation of Rutherford’s Letters in several countries, and the influence of his Lex Rex on the founding of the United States of America, it is hope that if the need is widely enough known, comparatively small gifts from many will served to meet it.
The result of the General Election is in, and what an event it has been! Some political parties have been wiped out, and others have exceeded expectations. As ever with these things, almost every party leader is claiming victory, while members within their own parties are either openly criticizing or quietly sucking up in the hope of preferment.
One wonders what Mrs May—who is still Prime Minister today—is thinking. Does she regret her decision to call the election? Does she regret having said she would not call an early election, before going back on her promise? Does she regret the content of her party’s manifesto, key areas of which she had to turn from so soon after it was published? One wonders.
The election result has been called variously ‘chaos’, ‘catastrophic’ and ‘messy’. When Mrs May called the election she commanded a large lead in the polls, but during the course of the campaign she saw that lead melt away. Whether the Prime Minister will survive remains to be seen, but one is reminded of the comment of Winston Churchill, that politics is far more exciting than war; for in war one can only be killed once, but in politics one can be killed many times.
Whatever the result means for political parties and for individual politicians, one notes the likelihood of an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP has the distinction of being the most Christian of the parties represented at Westminster. Their stand on same-sex marriage and abortion, for instance, is at odds with that of the modern Conservative party—and that of much of society. If they do indeed form a coalition, will they be able to be an influence for good on these matters? It remains to be seen.
This does remind us that even politicians are under the authority of God. ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God’ (Romans 13:1). For this reason the Apostle declares in another place, ‘I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty’ (1 Timothy 2:1).
There is great comfort to be had in Psalm 146. The psalmist issues the call to praise, both generally and personally to himself, v.1. The giving of praise to the Lord is a lifelong work, v.2, for it is the purpose of life.
In comparison with our heavenly Father, no human being is worthy of our trust. ‘Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help’ (v.3). The reason, v.4, is that man is mortal; if we cannot truly help ourselves, how can we hope to help others? No human intentions can outlast the breath of our life, and they perish when we do. Many years ago a government minister famously walked out of an interview when the interviewer made reference to ‘here-today-and-gone-tomorrow politicians’, and yet that is exactly what they, and we, are. This much is declared in Psalm 90, one of the psalms set for the Burial of the Dead in the Book of Common Prayer. In vv.6–7 man is likened to the grass of the field; ‘In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.’
It was a failing of the Israelites that they trusted in foreign nations to save them. When the Lord, in his righteous anger, raised up a nation such as the Syrians or the Babylonians to punish his wayward people, they cast about for a defence. That defence was never repentance and submission to the Lord and his laws, but the seeking of alliances, with the Egyptians or some other nation. All such efforts to escape the wrath of God failed. They must, for as David declared in another place, ‘If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me’ (Psalm 139:6–7). As Jonah could testify, there is nowhere we can flee on earth where the Lord will not find us. Whether we take ship and go in the opposite direction from the one he has commanded, or whether we are cast into the pit, God sees us, and can deal with us for good or ill. There is, therefore, no wisdom in trying to escape the Lord or his authority. No man can do this, and no man can enable another to do it, for all are subject to the sovereign rule of heaven.
What is the alternative? Psalm 146 continues, ‘Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.’ This happiness arises from the fact that God is the Creator of the world, who keeps truth for ever, who executes judgment for the oppressed, who feeds the hungry, and delivers the prisoner. He gives sight to the blind, he raises up those who are bowed under a load, he loves the righteous, and keeps the way of the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. He overturns the way of the wicked. The Psalm concludes with the declaration of God’s eternal reign.
Such a God is no mere fancy of human invention, no idol of man’s imagination. This is the God of power and might, whose deeds are declared in the heavens. This Lord is worthy of all worship, for he is able and willing to save his people, and to glorify his great name among us.
In so doing our heavenly Father uses means. When he would save the Israelites from Egypt, they must kill the passover lamb, and mark the doorways of their houses with the blood. They must cook and eat the lamb, in readiness for a sudden journey. Having come out the land, they must cross the Red Sea. The Lord did not pick them up and carry them; they must walk, with the walls of water reared up on both sides. When they came to Jericho, they must take the city; not by force of arms, but by a full and ready obedience to the word of the Lord through his servant Joshua. When David would challenge Goliath he must take his five smooth stones and his sling, and cast a stone at the giant, before drawing the man’s sword and removing his head from his shoulders. Time and again we see that the Lord uses means.
Those means may not always be obvious. Who would have imagined that a little Israelite slave girl in Syria would be one to teach a general that there is a God whose power exceeds all we can think or ask? Who would have considered that the tyrant Cyrus would be God’s instrument to restore the Jews to Jerusalem? Who would have considered that a violent persecutor of Christ’s people would be the chosen instrument to bear Christ’s name before rulers and kings, and be the means by which the gospel would be preached to very many people?
Who knows what our politicians might yet be moved by the Lord to do for his glory and honour? It is improbable that anyone, looking at the young Henry VIII, would have taken him for a king strong enough to resist the power of the Pope, a resistance in which most of his predecessors had engaged almost back to the Conquest, but had failed. Who would have thought that the mild scholar from Jesus College, Cambridge, would rise to such a position that he would shape the English reformation? Who would have imagined that the miner’s son from the town of Mansfeld in Upper Saxony would strike such a blow that the whole edifice of papal power would crack from foundation to roof?
And yet our confidence is not in men. We do not trust in leaders. We are to be loyal to those in positions of authority, and we must pray for those who govern us. We must do so in the recognition that they, like us, are but frail creatures, and entirely dependent on the Lord’s gracious aid. But our help cometh from the Lord, which hath made heaven and earth. He neither slumbers nor sleeps.
Let us pray that our politicians, and our church leaders, would be brought to the knowledge of the truth, confessing Jesus Christ to be Lord and God, and giving him all the glory. Only God rules in equity, but he can and does turn the hearts of kings to do his bidding. Prime ministers, and government officials, are all under him. Let us pray that they will be led to govern wisely and well, in these needy days.
When events such as those which have taken place recently in London and Manchester occur it can be difficult for us to know how to respond. I found that the words of Thomas Cranmer echoed across the centuries to me, urging us as he does to place our trust in the Lord, to follow his paths, and to ask for his assistance in times of trouble.
O God, from who all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both, our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that, by thee, we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Rev. Dominic Stockford