Protestant Churches and Social Attitudes

I was asked at the slugger awards ceremony in October to do a blog on the differences between the different Protestant denominations and the idea stuck in my head. This is my rather belated attempt at it. I will not try to explain the theological differences in any great detail since this is not a religious web site (and I am not a theologian) but instead will concentrate on the social and cultural differences.
It is of course important to point out that church observance is a minority activity amongst Ulster Protestants and as such these observations cannot be generalised to the non church attending population. Many non attenders are nominally members of the CoI or Presbyterian Churches (or to a lesser extent Methodists) and may share some cultural and social religious views with them. They might be more liberal but equally some views such as those on say homosexuality can be very hard line even in nominal or non church members.

The mainstream churches still have the largest (though falling) membership. The position of their members and clergy on social matters is very variable: as a very general rule within Belfast and the greater Belfast area they tend to be more socially liberal. Outside that area both ministers and laity tend to be more socially conservative. Again as a very general rule the Church of Ireland is a bit more liberal whereas Presbyterians are more conservative. Methodists are sometimes seen as socially (and indeed politically) liberal but again that is a variable issue and in my experience anyway Fermanagh Methodists are similar in social outlook to South Londonderry Presbyterians. In terms of social outlook and position on alcohol, sexual issues, smoking, Sabbath observance, gambling (even sometimes the lottery and raffles) etc. many of the more conservative within the mainstream denominations would be at one with the more fundamentalist groups.

Some of the newer small denominations are more liberal. Many of the small House Churches, groups such as the Vineyard and similar are frequently more socially liberal than the mainstream denominations despite being at times more evangelical. This position allows them to attract some people in positions that the mainstream churches can have problems with: divorced and cohabiting couples being a classic example. These groups also often have relaxed views on matters such as Sunday observance: this liberal position on some issues combined with enthusiasm, more modern worship (sometimes involving speaking in tongues etc.) and individual charismatic pastors has led to a significant increase in these groups in terms of churches and members.

Turning to the more hard line smaller churches there is the concept of “standards.” This essentially relates to social conservatism, typically involving no alcohol, no going to pubs and night clubs, some groups are opposed to the cinema and at the strictest end of the spectrum even refusing to have televisions in the house. Women are often disproportionally affected with some groups opposing women wearing trousers, make-up, dying or even cutting their hair, and insisting on women wearing hats in church.

It is often assumed by outsiders that the Free Presbyterian Church would be the most hard line on such issues: actually that is far from correct. Almost all the Free Presbyterians I know have televisions, they rarely have concerns with women wearing make up or trousers and most will happily attend the cinema. A more strict form of Presbyterianism is actually the Reformed Presbyterian Church, they would be very similar on most social issues to the Independent Methodists and the Brethren. With the smaller denominations the views of a given church may be different to others: some Brethren Assemblies are notably more liberal than others and within Independent Methodism there are differences in emphasis on standards.

The final and possibly least understood group are the Exclusive Brethren who have very little mixing with others: I must admit to only ever seeing them at the airport. They tend, as far as I can gather, to be the same as the other conservative groups but the women wear a head covering when in public (usually just a mini headscarf) and as far as I can establish will not eat with non members.

Many of these more extreme positions are based on a specific interpretation of sometimes rather obscure biblical texts. The women not wearing trousers comes from a specific passage in Leviticus which most fundamentalists regard as a prohibition on being a transvestite. Many could also be criticised as really being about trying to keep the members in a sort of rose tinted manufactured late 19th or early 20th century world view and certainly more and more of the fundamentalist churches and even the harder line mainstream churches are slowly liberalising. No one would think anything of women wearing trousers in the country Presbyterian church I was brought up in yet once in the 1970s an organist resigned because the women in the choir were not wearing hats.

It must be stressed, however, that the liberalisation in “standards” has almost universally not been associated with a liberalisation in the basic theological position of the churches. Whilst women wear trousers in my old church and all the young people wear jeans, the minister will still preach the standard “Ye must be born again.” As I have been to multiple different churches over the years the theology has remained almost completely unchanged just as the denim has increased, the milliners gone out of business and the hymns become more modern: sorry I was about to start my Modern Hymns are rubbish rant.

  • Crow

    Turgon,

    Are there any significant differences in their views on the Catholic Church and its members?

  • slug

    Turgon

    In the 1980s in my Presbyterian Congregation in a large market town in Co. Antrim, it would have been expected for men to wear jacket and tie or suit and tie to church-the Sunday best. This seems to have ended around the year 2000 with people just turning up casually, and most men under forty losing the neck tie.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Just a query!

    How do Christian fundalmentalist members of the Reformed Churches feel about their own ancestors being papists in the past? (prior to the Reformation)

    Do they pray today for their popish ancestors ‘lost souls’?

    Do they feel somewhat contaminated/sinful that their ‘popish’ ancestors blood may flow in their veins today?

  • OC

    My favorite denomination:

    Their music puts black pentacostal churches to shame.

  • hey are there any significant differences in their views own views?

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  • Glencoppagagh

    ‘the minister will still preach the standard “Ye must be born again.”’
    Turgon
    What do they preach about when confronted by an entirely ‘born-again’ congregation which must be the case quite frequently? Do they just stick to the same thing just to make the congregation feel smug?
    And do the multiply born never get bored with hearing it?

  • Parrot Clocker

    Turgon,

    It is now 8 hours since Crow’s question and you have not provided Crow with an answer (shame) so lets widen the subject a wee bit before this thread goes stale.

    Does anybody believe that political support for the Unionist factions will split up according to different strands of their belief system, e.g. their strictness of conduct or their approach to religious pluralism? For example, could the DUP end up as the Christian Fundementalist Unionist Party and the Tory/UUP alliance end up representing the more pluralist/secular – minded Unionists, if indeed the latter organisation does not manage to break out into a cross-community party representing all conservatives?

  • Democratic

    Short answer would be no – Unionism as an ultimate cause unites almost all Protestants in NI above and beyond their theological differences and more than likely always will. (while a Union exists of course)
    The view of the Catholic church being in spiritual error is common though any reformed church anywhere in the world – not just in NI.

  • rick1981

    Surely the interesting thing about DUP support now is that it comes from Free P’s, Presbyterians, CoI and Methodists. Infact as far as i am aware the DUP Assembly team represents all of the above as well as Indy Methodist, Pentecostal and Baptist.

  • autocue

    rick is correct. Free Ps (I think) are now a minority in the DUP Assembly group.

  • Realist

    “It is now 8 hours since Crow’s question and you have not provided Crow with an answer (shame)”

    Maybe Turgon was in bed, sleeping, during the night?

    Shame on him.

  • norris85

    Although the Westminster team is different. Does anyone know the numbers involved in Assembly team?

  • Turgon

    Crow,
    Sorry I was indeed asleep and then at work. Attitudes to the RC church are pretty uniform across most of the more fundamentalist in the main denominations and the smaller churches. Some of the CoI / Presbyterians / Methodists would be more ecumenical but in my experience not many.

    Greagoir O Frainclin,
    Even the most extreme people feel nothing but sorrow at the prospect of anyone going to hell but believe that unless one has personally accepted Christ then hell is inevitable. As such they will sadly suspect that many of their ancestors (of all denominations and none) will be in hell. My hope is that many accept Christ in their last moments and also in my very Calvinist analysis it is all completely up to God anyway.

    Glencoppagagh,
    Yes many preachers continue to preach “Ye muist be born again” to born again audiances. This often results not in smugness but fear that maybe one is not saved. Personally I like it when ministers cover improving one’s religious life, being closer to God, being a better person, what the bible teaches etc. Actually most ministers do this but also have a bit of “Ye must be born again” during the same sermon.

    Parrot Clocker,
    I was inded in bed I am suitably ashamed. Your question about politics is very valid. I suspect now, however, that the church one attends has little impact on UUP / DUP voting patterns. It is a whole topic in its own right which I might do sometime soon.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “Even the most extreme people feel nothing but sorrow at the prospect of anyone going to hell but believe that unless one has personally accepted Christ then hell is inevitable. As such they will sadly suspect that many of their ancestors (of all denominations and none) will be in hell. My hope is that many accept Christ in their last moments and also in my very Calvinist analysis it is all completely up to God anyway.”

    Cheers for that answer Turgon!

    BTW there are some good programme on TV presently about world faiths (on BBC2 on Friday evenings @ 9.00pm) and more particularly Christianity (last night on C4 @ 7.00pm) that are worth a look.
    The C4 programme deals with the history of Christianity and peoples attitudes toward it. In a later programme Anne Widdecombe (who converted to Catholicism) will look at attitudes of folk in NI. Last night Howard Jacobson, a Jew himself, looked at the very Jewishness of Jesus Christ and the subsequent distortion of this fact and persecution of Jews by Christians throughout the centuries. Next week will look at the Roman Emperor Constantine and his influence and power placing Christianity at the very heart of Western thought, culture and life, and subsequent establishment of the Roman Catholic Church.

    I myself, an atheist, or an nihilist of sorts, (and no doubt doomed to Hell), am greatly interested in world faiths and why people ‘believe’ in religion. But each to their own, as they say, and live and let live!

  • Turgon

    Greagoir O Frainclin,
    Thank you. The only part I dissent from is that you say you are doomed to hell. In my view that is solely up to God. Sorry in a strange way you are not allowed to choose. I know that makes the whole point of preaching redundant: I am no theologian so will not try to square that circle.

  • … you are doomed to hell …

    I’m typing with my knuckles to try to curb my almost irresistable urge to tell you what I think of your god-ery and its assorted ghosts, goblins and ‘hells’.

    Suffice to say, I may side with Jean-Paul Sartre on this one: “Hell is other people“. In Northern Ireland he would have found that there are indeed different circles of hell, with ever-increasing levels of wickedness.

  • Turgon

    Horseman,
    I am sorry, in my defence it was Greagoir who mentioned the “doomed to hell” bit. I merely quoted the questuion in the reply.

    I was more interested in social attitudes in this blog than theology.

  • Glencoppagagh

    “This often results not in smugness but fear that maybe one is not saved”
    But I thought you knew when you were saved (none of this ‘spiritual journey’ nonsense), unless you’ve backslidden of course if which case you needed to be born again again.
    As for “being a better person”, I fear you’re treading dangerous ground here. You could fall into the fatal error of relying on good works for salvation. That’s what the benighted papists do isn’t it? Best leave all that charitable stuff to them and the rest of the unsaved, just to be on the safe side.

  • Greenflag

    Fascinating thread . In a world beset by war and economic recession we tend to forget the finer points of cultural and social differences in observable behaviour between some female protestants wearing trousers to church and others wearing perhaps more alluring and expensive attire.

    A load of codology but then I suspect Turgon’s reluctance to even post the subject reflects perhaps an unease in his own mind at ‘thinking ‘through the manifest idiocies of the various points of the non social and non cultural but also the finer ‘theological ‘ differences .

    You would find probably the same range of differences in social and cultural norms among Catholics and indeed probably among other large ‘religions ‘ as well.

    When push comes to shove however it all boils down to the same old story – money and the fact that any God always needs to be adored and have lots of money.

  • Greenflag

    Now here’s some real difference;)

    King Edward the 1st of England had the Jews expelled on July 18th -1290 . A few weeks later certain Italian Lombard merchants were to be seen attending markets in some English towns . When one of them was asked what he was selling he replied ‘money’ .

    ‘Does the Church allow you to sell money ‘asked a devout English medieval church attender who recalled that only a few wweks past the Church had exulted over the Edwards’s expulsion of the accursed Christ killers and usurers .

    ‘Of course ‘ replied the Lombard . The Pope blesses us every day for his Church is our greatest customer .

    ‘What are your terms ‘ asked another devotee of the church who was having problems paying his taxes .

    ‘Easy ” replied the merchant . ‘If you borrow twelve marks from me -I’ll advance ten now and you pay me back twelve marks in a years time ‘

    ‘What about the two marks’ asked a simple minded visitor from Northern Ireland ?

    ‘My fee’ replied the Lombard .

    ‘That’s the same as the Jew’s interest’ said a more observant visitor from Dublin .

    ‘No it isn’t ‘ replied the Lombard .

    ‘Yes it is ‘ replied the Dubliner now smelling another con artist .

    ‘So what’s the difference between you Lombards and the Jews ‘? asked an even more observant visitor from Norwich .

    ‘The difference ‘ replied the Lombard -is that I am here and the Jews are not .

    Churches (all of them ) are about ‘market ‘share under the guise of course of saving men’s ‘souls’ . It’s a racket plain and simple all the more credible because of it’s long history as part of our western culture .

    Despite Mr Bernard Madoff’s recent 50 billion ponzi scheme heist the churches (collectively have ‘heisted ‘ multiple times that hoard ) throughout their history . The ‘newer’ brand mega churches are no different . Selling ‘invisible ‘ goods under false pretences is nice work if you can get it as some would say ;(

    Turgon being a Calvinist knows that only God holds the secret to whether he ends up in hell fire or does’nt. If he chose to deny the existence of God he’s roast pork no question . If he fervently believes , that’s no guarantee either. God may just not like the look of Turgon on his day of judgement and then it’s roast porkies for eternity also . Can’t win either way thus no point in doing ‘good works ‘ .Turgon reminds me of my father who was now that I think of it a ‘closet’ Calvinist/Atheist . Although nominally an RC he was clear that God knew where we would all end up as he knew everything anyway being God -duh ?. So the day you were born your number was up as God knew anyway whether you were roast pork or a cherub with a halo and harp playing Mozart eternally from a cloud :(.

    In reply later in life as to the non conformism of this belief with standard RC doctrine the old man’s reply was just a shrug of the shoulders and an admonishment to ‘mind your religion’. I suspect now that he was as sceptical of the whole nonsense as I was but beause of societal norms he could not state his mind .

    I suspect the same is true for many Northern Ireland Protestants and Catholics even today .

    I hope that someday Turgon will see the error of his ways and see the light and stop giving himself neuroses over non existent hells and heavens . Life is not a dress rehearsal -This is all you get. Make the best of it and be kind to your friends in the swamp for even the other ducks have a mother !

    Unlearning is tough and many people would rather not . It’s the human condition .

  • Barnshee

    The big disadvantage (as I see it) of heaven is the utter unattractiveness of those who are definitely going there (so they say)

  • Parrot Clocker

    Turgon,

    Thank you for your earlier response. I have one question to ask, again political, about Protestant attitudes to homosexuality.

    Most of us are aware that in the Old Testament, it is described as an abomination. The New Testament is more or less silent on the subject.
    What is the mainstraim view of homosexuality amongst Protestants?
    Are most of them behind what Iris and Peter Robinson have said on the subject or is there a strong humanist strand within protestantism which are in the majority and regard the Robinsons as bigots?

  • Catholic Observer

    “The New Testament is more or less silent on the subject”

    There are at least three that are commonly interpreted as references to homosexuality in the NT: Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:8-10 and 1 Timothy 1: 9-10. There is considerable debate over “arsenokoitai” in Corinthians. Some claim it refers to homosexuality, while others claim it refers to masturbation. Just what function the conjugate ‘o’ serves between “arsen” (men) and “koitai” (beds) is debatable and whether the adjective ‘malakoi’ suggesting effeminacy sufficient warrant for interpreting this as homosexuality.

  • Driftwood

    Michael Shermer is a good writer on why people believe weird things. The chances are that most people who still believe in God, follow the beliefs of their parents, and much of their outlook in life comes from that source. Class affects social attitude more than religion in my opinion.

  • Parrot Clocker

    Thank you Catholic Observer.

    Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing from Turbo

  • Democratic

    You’ll out those anti-Catholic, homophobic Proddy bigots yet, eh Parrot Clocker?
    Turbo eh, freudian slip or intentional dis?…

  • smcgiff

    Okay, this is where I show my shocking lack of knowledge (like a good boy thought in catholic school) in all things bible – but are the likes of the epistles taken as the word of God also? How does this rank compared to what is attributed to the God/man Jesus?

    Surely the epistels(i.e. Paul’s letters to the Romans) carry far less weight?!?

  • Dublin voter

    Thanks for that Turgon. It’s a subject that fascinates me. The following disappoints me:

    “Attitudes to the RC church are pretty uniform across most of the more fundamentalist in the main denominations and the smaller churches. Some of the CoI / Presbyterians / Methodists would be more ecumenical but in my experience not many.”

    I’m pretty sure that there would be a more positive attitude towards ecumenism among Protestants in the South.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    If any Sluggerites are members of Charismatic churches, you may find 1 Corontians 14 enlightening. Many Charismatics claim when they speak in tongues that they are rebuking God. Now, I’ve never found this in the bible, but rather have found that 1 Corontians 14 places conditions on those who speak in tongues and prophecise.

    You should note verse 19 it’s very important and easily missed. When it starts with “[u]Yet[/u] in the church”, this verse separates what goes on outside the church and what’s to happen inside it.

    In 14 v 19, Paul writes, “In the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” he also places a condition on those who speak in tongues in the church, he says in v 27-28 that at the most three people should speak in tongues, and if there is no interpreter the tongue-speakers should be silent. So there has to be an interpreter. How many Charismatic churches interprete?

    Also, when it comes to prophesying, Paul in v 29 says only two or three prophets should be heard and the message must be “judged”. How many Charismatic churches “judge” the prophecy?

  • frustrated democrat

    What is the view of the ‘Atheist’ bus ads in GB, should they come to NI?

    – There is probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life.-

    I like the use of the ‘probably’ as it leaves some room for doubt amongst the doubters sort of insurance. It would have been more forceful if it had been left out, maybe the watch dog objected.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    EDIT, whata mistaka to maka”

    instead of “Many Charismatics claim when they speak in tongues that they are rebuking [u]God[/u].”

    it should read “…rebuking [u]the Devil.[/u]”

  • Rory Carr

    Aren’t the Snake Handlers (thank you, OC) jest something else? Jest a bunch of good ol’ boys (guys only?) in a small room, spaced out and thrilling at the stroking and inserting into the mouth of penile substitutes in the form of drugged up snakes.

    Don’t they have any gay saunas in Alabama or is it just that they aren’t open on Sundays?

    Which begs me to ask the question of Turgon as to how he might have observed signs of homosexual sublimation in those congregations were such nature musts be repressed? That is if indeed he has been able to recognise the signs, which may not be easy for one not accustomed to recognising them. Yet, we might say, they must be there. They can’t all be straight johns. Not even in Fermanagh.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Not even in Fermanagh. ‘

    Where the men are men and the sheep reputed to be very nervous 😉 or was that Wickla ?

    There were no homosexuals in Ireland until the Late Late Show either and all the people were conceived by immaculate contraception 🙂

  • Eddie

    I wonder why Turgon does not even mention the Unitarians, who are more numerous that some of the minority Protestant sects he does mention, such the Brethern?

    They have contributed to the cause of toleration and fair play in this part of the world and their feeling for Christians of all denominations – Catholic and Protestant – lives on in this society. Some people mock them as “Christian Humanists”

    It may not be well know that First Prsbyterian Church in Belfast (not affiliated to the General Assembly), All Souls in Belfast, and others in Co Antrim and Down – Moneyrea, Killinchy, Holywood, – non-subscribing presbyterian – are among them. Too often they are confused with Free Prsbyterians, while, in fact they are completely at the other end of the spectrum

  • Eddie

    re: the entry just above

    I would recommend http://www.nspresbyterian.org
    read and digest this and you will find it interesting – though I admit it may incense some Protestant sects

  • Turgon

    With all these Christian churches, one might be led to believe that the competition drives up standards of belief in Christ. And if so then this might translate into a Christian attitude towards Nationalists coming from the Unionist community.

    Clearly it doesn’t. All we got during the Troubles was an eye for an eye. Why have unionists not got the confidence to leave the seige mentality behind, and with it the reliance on the God of the Old Testament for their morality.

  • Greenflag

    o’connell ,

    ‘Why have unionists not got the confidence to leave the seige mentality behind, and with it the reliance on the God of the Old Testament for their morality’

    Why have nationalists and republicans not got the confidence to leave the past behind them and with it the reliance on the Vatican? and a horde of deviant supposedly celibate Bishops and priests for their ‘morality.’ ?

    Sauce -goose and gander come to mind :(.

    Anyway many Protestants prefer an angry God . Lets face it if you want to really scare the living shit out of the ‘faithfull’ and force them to toe the party line best to have a God who wields some serious power, and is not averse to wiping out entire nations not to mention almost the entirety of life on Earth on at least a couple of occassions in random fits of rage . I mean what could the poor dinosaurs have done that was so upsetting to the Creator ? And do remember they were created by him/her /it ?

    This Catholic New Testament pansy of a God with all this turning the other cheek business etc . curing lepers , healing the sick , letting the blind see and the lame walk ? Come on now how do you expect such a God to inspire the faithful on the 12th of July and to encourage them to go out and smite the Moabites ( Taigs ) etc ?

    They’re all primitives and that’s all there is to it 🙁

  • Greenflag

    Where can I get an ounce of that?

    Seriously, and there is a serious point to be made here, the plantation and its compromising morality is where Unionist theology comes from. They simply do not believe that a good God would allow them to take over the land belonging to others, so they invent a bad God that explains why they were actually acting in the interests of God in taking the land.

    Only the bad God is in fact Satan, and they lose their humanity and their warmth as human beings – from observations of their politicians – and they get stuck in Old Testament morality, the morality of man without God. They then become Satan worshippers by religion and everybody wonders why they are cold and dull. The truth is that they have died. Isn’t Christ supposed to come to judge the living and the dead? Well, guess who the dead will be. But who really needs to guess, it’s pretty obvious.

  • PaddyReilly

    I recall visiting some friends in Wales, to find a domestic argument taking place. He had been brought up by Exclusive Brethren, who in his experience were some of the wickedest people on the planet. She wanted to take the children to the Carol Service in the local Church (Anglican, I think). He was appalled that they might be exposed to religion and dead against it.

    I don’t think there’s anything too bad about going to a Carol Service if it’s only once a year. Athe will forgive you. (Athe is the God of the Atheists). You should not judge the whole by the part, which is what my friend was doing. Many Protestant religions are quite acceptable.

    I would not go to a Protestant Church in Northern Ireland, unless it was Quaker or Non-Subscribing Presbyterian, or it was some oecumenical occasion, a wedding or a funeral. My experience of Protestant Churches is thus confined to England, Scotland and Wales. It would probably be more accurate to say non-Catholic, as the term Protestant is as rare outside Ulster as a word like Azymite, which supposes a Catholic/Protestant non-Orthodox unity.

    In Scotland (where I go solely to Scots Gaelic medium services) I can relate to the Scots Episcopal Church, whose liturgy is more Catholic than the Catholic one is. The Church of Scotland I throughly enjoy, the hymns are most welcome, after you’ve endured everyone else’s metric psalms. One of the most beautiful things I have every heard was a Kirk service which used Russian psalm melodies. The Presbyterians in various grades of Weeness and Freeness must sometimes be endured, but their metrical psalms, week after week, are boring. The very Wee sorts should be avoided, the sermon lasts for at least 2 hours, people have been known to faint at the graveside.

    Methodists I have always abhorred, probably because my mother was one, though this is unfair, because she herself would have nothing to do with them for most of her life. Now, since Maddy Prior has produced a quite well made recording of Wesley’s hymns

    http://www.carnivalband.com/paradise_found.html

    I am beginning to think there might be something worthwhile in it.

    However, having read the like of Caradoc Evans and Daniel Owen on the bigotry long resident in this sect, I have quite a way to go. When once staying deep in the Welsh Countryside my friend did suggest I might like to go, but I refused, though the proceedings sounded eminently sensible. I regret this now.

    The Anglicans are variable: there is an Anglo-Catholic side, and an Evangelical one which is largely embarrassing and unbearable. In Northern Ireland I would avoid them because of their association with Orangemen, unless the service is in Gaelic, of course.

    In towns where there is no ashram or vihara the progressive people tend to go to the Quakers or the Unitarians (Non-sub Presbyterians). Theosophy and Anthroposophy have something to contribute, but probably one should not call them Protestant.

  • Methodist

    An interesting piece. I think I must come from a Bretheren stronghold as I had 2 in my class at school and knew others in the year above and below me. I’ve lost contact with them all now.

    I’d take issue with some of your claims about them. Theones I knew didn’t have to cover their hair in public but the women aren’t allowed to cut their hair. They ate freely with non-Bretheren when at school. One of the amusing things I remember was that they weren’t allowed TVs at home but if any of them went round to a friends house they were always fascinated by it and wanted to watch it!

    They integrated fairly well in my school but they always stood out a bit, especially the girls with their hair and refusal to wear trousers/jeans/tracksuit bottoms.

  • traditionalchristian

    Turgon, I wholeheartedly agree on modern hymns being rubbish. Whatever happened to the tradition, timeless hymns with an organ instead of wannabe rockstars playing irrelevlant rubbish!!

  • PaddyReilly

    I’d take issue with some of your claims about them

    I wasn’t aware that I had made any claims about them. It was one of their own children who felt they were the wickedest people on the planet. I merely repeated this.

    The people you describe sound more like Plymouth Brethren than Exclusive Brethren, who are the extreme wing of this sect.

  • Methodist

    PaddyReilly

    Apologies I didn’t make myself clear, I was replying to the original piece, not your post.

    And you might be right about them being Plymouth Brethern, we just knew them as Brethern, didn’t realise there was different groups of them.

  • PaddyReilly

    didn’t realise there was different groups of them.

    Garrison Keillor is a very good read on this. He describes his Brethren upbringing in America, where constant schisms meant there were more sects than believers, and everyone was shunning everyone else. It was all due to male ego where biblical interpretation was concerned.

  • Catholic Observer

    “In Scotland (where I go solely to Scots Gaelic medium services) I can relate to the Scots Episcopal Church, whose liturgy is more Catholic than the Catholic one is”

    Yes, well the Scottish Episcopal Church was historically a bastion of Scottish Jacobitism and its members have rarely felt any affinity with the Church of Ireland, a church which traditionally combined a high-church ecclessiology with an almost calvinist soteriology. Anti-popery so imbued the CoI that up until the 1960s putting a cross upon an altar was proscribed under church canons.

    I don’t fully agree with your assertion that the Episcopal Church liturgy is more Catholic than the Catholic one. Certainly it is more elegant and ornate (and in that sense more ‘Catholic’) than the primary one currently in use (the Novus Ordo Missae 1970) in most Irish churches, but that has only been the case since the late 1960s and is only used in the sui juris Latin Church. However I was pleasantly surprised to see the 1962 Missale Romanum (which I myself always attend here in Ireland) in use at Old St Paul’s in Edinburgh when I visited. The 1962 Missal is now canonically recognized as the ‘Extraordinary Form’ and all restrictions on it have been dropped since 2007. Its congregations are disproportionally younger and vocations are much more plentiful; this is especially noticeable in France where it is more readily available and has made serious inroads into the ‘mainstream’ liturgy. The Novus Ordo (which in itself is hardly ever conducted properly in Europe) is now widely regarded as a hatchetjob and Pope Benedict has claimed that it represents an undue rupture with the preceeding liturgical forms. Most people who read Sacrosanctum Concilium will be shocked how conservative in tone it was, urging Latin to be retained and lauding Gregorian Chant in the liturgy. Sadly Bugnini’s concilium, motivated by ideology, disobeyed these directives and ineptly constructed their own banal liturgical formulation. Then we had the unfortunate and criminal ‘wreckovations’ in the 1960s. Cardinal Ratzinger writing on the liturgical reform in 2002 said that he was convinced that “the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy”. I predict that it will either die out soon or Pope Benedict (or his successor) will radically reform it. A slow but certain change has already happened. The progressivist deformers has been culled in the dicasteries and Liturgiam Authenticam and Summorum Pontificum have provided an impetus for authentic liturgical reform and the latter has faciliated the revival of the preconciliar liturgy, inconceivable only 10 years ago. I was delighted, though not at all surprised, to see Piero Martini replaced with Guido Martini as MC for papal liturgies and his great work in reverting to a more traditional papal liturgy with Gregorian Chant and communion with kneeling etc. Cardinal Antonio Canizares will do a fine job in his new role at roling out liturgical reform at ground level and will oversee the new immeasurably more reverant NO translations to be introducted in 2011.

  • pauljames

    Frustrated Democrat
    this might answer your query on the use of “probably” in the atheist bus ads.

  • Greenflag

    ‘and they lose their humanity and their warmth as human beings’

    Yes I’ve noticed Paisley was never seen having a chuckle .

    ‘ and they get stuck in Old Testament morality, the morality of man without God.’

    Hang on a minute God is mentioned in the Old Testament hundreds of times I’d guess .

    ‘ They then become Satan worshippers by religion and everybody wonders why they are cold and dull.’

    ??????? Something of a generalisation here ?

    ‘ The truth is that they have died.’

    Well they’re taking an awful long time to finish the funeral service.

    Where can I get an ounce of that?

    Normally Homo sapiens is born with a brain weighing several ounces . By the time of adulthood it weighs on average between 40 and 48 ounces but in exceptional cases it can be slightly more and in unfortunate microcephalic cases it can be much lower .

    If You haven’t got an ounce I suggest you make haste to your nearest medical practitioner . Clearly you could be Guinness Book of Records material 😉

    ‘Isn’t Christ supposed to come to judge the living and the dead’

    So they say and some have made immense profits on books , sermons , tracts , property sales and transfers on the imminent arrival of JC wrapped in glory . This has been a failry consitent theme running through some of the wackier nut jobs of the religious right . Catholics are supposed to believe in a similar visitation but as the RC Church is more centrally organised and controlled that Church os able to better ‘control ‘ the visionary freaks who see apparitions , hallucinations etc etc etc .

    I’ve often wondered where the people of Lourdes go to be cured ? Perhaos they don’t have to go anywhere as by now they should all be cured eh ?

    It’s a money racket plain and simple with of course the societal harkening back to a need to keep control over people’s thoughts all the better to maintain social stability and cultural continuity .

    We as a species will have to find a better way than ‘belief ‘ in non existent Gods and Devils etc etc .

  • Driftwood

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-dawkins-qa12-2009jan12,0,1625954,full.story

    A riposte to all the above BS for anyone with an IQ in double figures.

  • Greenflag

    Catholic observer ,

    Liturgical reform won’t save the RC Church from it’s demise in Ireland to but a small minority similar to that of the Anglicans in England .

    Where will the priests come from to ‘implement the ‘new ‘reforms ? China . I suppose ‘outsourcing ‘ is only to be expected . After all every large business or corporation does it to great effect on the bottom line . Why should the RC or any other Church be any different ?

    As I said it’s a business racket based on the conjuring up of an invisible world seen by nobody alive and you have to wait till you are dead to experience it ?

    Makes the tobacco companies sound like paregons of ethical practice 🙁

  • PaddyReilly

    Of all the speakers in the Christian world I have heard, this one is the most convincing:-

  • Greenflag

    Pass the joint.

  • Catholic Observer

    Liturgical reform will not bring the Church back to its former status but it will certainly help. A number of other measures are desperately needed. The current liturgy with its emphasis on lay involvement (in practice women) discourages vocations because few men would be prepared to sacrifice a career and a wife for a way of life that confers upon them few priviliges not already open to laity. The dismal, banal and frankly tacky translation of liturgical books engenders within youth an aversion to prayer. The catechetical and RE books do absolutely nothing to communicate the doctrines of the faith (and frequently misrepresent it), and indeed they contrast sharply with the forcefulness and doctrinal fidelity of the previously used Penny Catechism. The two seminaries in Ireland are hothouses of dissent and liturgical progessivism. Being acquainted with many people there I know that Maynooth is operated by a liberal clique who have done incalcable harm by inculcating their seminarians with progressist dissent and liturgical anarchism. A seminarian there was expelled for kneeling for communion a few years back. But this has being going on since the 60’s. I simply cannot bear going to a normal parish church in Ireland. I went to a funeral a year ago and by the end I wished I was the one in the coffin. Lack of reverance, architectural banality, tasteless guitar music, incompetent and scarcely educated (and probably gay!) clergy giving insipid homilies are a common feature of Irish churches and the sooner they are gone the better. Likewise with the disastrous formation seminarians receive. Most priests nowadays are so poorly formed in Church doctrine, history, and liturgy (few of them even speak Latin or Greek!), that I’m quite shocked, and indeed fairly saddened, that the Catholic Church hasn’t completely collapsed in this country (at least then we could attempt a restoration).

  • OC

    Rory Carr: The Church Of Jesus With Signs Following is an offshoot of the Pentacostal Church. As such, they are Trinitarians. Like many Afro-centric Christian churches, their liturgical music is more gospel, and quite frankly, R&B;, or rockabilly. Besides snake handling (in response to a verse in the NT re true believers), drink poisons like strychnine and kerosine. Occassionally, one bites the dust from these forms of worship.

    BTW, I wouldn’t think that any Presbyterian Church would be considered Unitarian, as these are NOT Trinitarian, and by any system that demands conformacy with the Nicene Creed, Unitarians aren’t considered Christian.

  • Greenflag

    Catholic observer,

    ‘ The current liturgy with its emphasis on lay involvement (in practice women) discourages vocations because few men would be prepared to sacrifice a career and a wife for a way of life that confers upon them few priviliges not already open to laity.’

    So you expect the Irish people to return to the Middle Ages and return all those ‘priviliges’ to clergy which over the past 30 years and probably for much longer said clergy abused ? The RC Church is not and never was a democratic institution . Historically it has used it’s power for both good and evil just like other churches and empires

    There’s no going back -Observer -not even for the RC Church . The best and brightest are not heading for ‘sinecures’ as priests . They have to look for recruits from either immigrants or older refugees from the secular world .

    Anyway this thread is about the ‘real’ semantic and other ‘important ‘ differences between the various mainstream and minor stream protestant denominations . Turgon would I’m sure be appalled at his informative thread turning into a debate on the death throes of the RC Church in Ireland.

  • Greenflag

    Catholic observer,

    ‘ The current liturgy with its emphasis on lay involvement (in practice women) discourages vocations because few men would be prepared to sacrifice a career and a wife for a way of life that confers upon them few priviliges not already open to laity.’

    So you expect the Irish people to return to the Middle Ages and return all those ‘priviliges’ to clergy which over the past 30 years and probably for much longer said clergy abused ? The RC Church is not and never was a democratic institution . Historically it has used it’s power for both good and evil just like other churches and empires

    There’s no going back -Observer -not even for the RC Church . The best and brightest are not heading for ‘sinecures’ as priests . They have to look for recruits from either immigrants or older refugees from the secular world .

    Anyway this thread is about the ‘real’ semantic and other ‘important ‘ differences between the various mainstream and minor stream protestant denominations . Turgon would I’m sure be appalled at his informative thread turning into a debate on the death throes of the RC Church in Ireland.

  • Greenflag

    O’Connell ,

    Go to the Cliffs of Moher – Do not pass joints on the way . When you get there look out to the Atlantic Ocean and howl at the wind . And then jump ye bollix jump 😉

  • Republican nationalist type

    I hate religion

  • Greenflag

    Where’s the cliffs of Moher? Can you be specific?

  • Eddie

    OC says (above)
    BTW, I wouldn’t think that any Presbyterian Church would be considered Unitarian, as these are NOT Trinitarian, and by any system that demands conformacy with the Nicene Creed, Unitarians aren’t considered Christian.

    First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street, Belfast; All Soul’s Pres Ch, opposite QUB; and a dozen more in Antrim and Down are Unitarian Churches (described nowadays as Non-Subscribing Presbyterians…i.e not subscribing to a lot of the “Prebyterian” doctrine of today) None of these are affiliated to the Presbyterian General Assembly.

    It’s ridiculous to say that Unitarians are not Christian, though some fundmentalist Christians like to claim this, because of the Unitarian liberal approach to philosophy and religion. The Unitarians, (or Non-Suybscribing Presbyterians, if you like) follow Christ as a good example. He is the main man.

    Do please look at http://www.nspresbyterian.org. When you get there, click on the tab called “Ethos” for their beliefs, then look at the “tab” entitled “Churches.”

    You may be pleasantly surprised (or indeed, enraged, depending on your viewpoint) Please let me knwo what you think.

  • Greenflag

    O’Connell ,

    ‘Can you be specific? ‘

    If at first you don’t succeed then perhaps skydiving from the Cliffs of Moher could be right up your street 😉

  • Greenflag

    I do a bit of sky diving as you can see from my website.

  • OC

    ‘You may be pleasantly surprised (or indeed, enraged, depending on your viewpoint) Please let me knwo what you think.’

    Posted by Eddie on Jan 13, 2009 @ 05:52 PM

    TY Eddie. I don’t really have a dog in the fight. I’m more of a Pelagian/Arian heretic, if anything.

    Here in the States, we have a Unitarian church. They don’t believe in the Trinity, ergo they don’t subscribe to the Nicene Creed. This is usually the litmus test to be considered “Christian”. Their liberal beliefs and practises are not the objection per se.

    How about the Mormons: Are they “Christian”?

  • OC

    Here in the States, we have a Unitarian church. They don’t believe in the Trinity, ergo they don’t subscribe to the Nicene Creed. This is usually the litmus test to be considered “Christian”.

    Here’s me thinking that Christ will judge people on the basis of their compassion and love as Christian. Are you guys for real?

  • OC

    Take it easy JO’C.

    I didn’t say that I give the rules any credence. I might not like the rules of baseball, but if you play with a cricket bat, you’ve broken the rules of baseball.

    How will Jesus judge a very nice atheist?

    I mean, you’ve already bought into the whole post-mortem judgement of the soul thing. Some would call that dangerously naïve, at best.

  • OC

    How will Jesus judge a very nice atheist?

    I’m sure, like every other person. An atheist may be a little deluded but each person has a worth depending on their warmth and compassion. These things derive from an absorptiion of the message of Christ, and you needn’t believe in God to live an ethical life that reflects Christ’s values.

    But I feel that judgement won’t be on the basis of recitation of the Nicene Creed.

  • Eddie

    Unitarians

    How can OC say that Unitarians (known here as Non-Subscribing Presbyterians) don’t pass the test as being Christian because of their beliefs? They are not Trinitarians, true.

    But they they are followers of Christ, ergo they are Christians. That is what they regard themselves as. That is the foundations of their religion. So is it for others to say that they are not Christian.

    With their non-dogmatism and their philosophy, their live-an-let-live ways, their tolerance and respect for the views of others – maybe not the sort of Christian that some “Christians” in the way we use the word in N Ireland might want – but there you are.

  • OC

    JO’C: So if one doesn’t believe that “no one gets to heaven except through Me”, they can get into heaven anyway? Then why be a “Christian” (however one defines it)? Why not be a very nice practioner of a cannabilism religion?

    Eddie: Again, I didn’t make up the rules. Of course, those who don’t follow the rules always declare that those rules are false, but our rules are true. Are Mormons “Christians”? Pelasgians? Arians? Jews For Jesus? Can a Trinitarian be a member of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterians?

    To both: Don’t take me too seriously. I firmly believe that if going to church keeps someone from stealing from or hurting me, I’ll gladly give them bus fare.

  • Swift

    @Greenflag

    It’s a money racket plain and simple with of course the societal harkening back to a need to keep control over people’s thoughts all the better to maintain social stability and cultural continuity.

    Not to mention morality. I guess today though morality and our views on social matters are the rightful property of the script writers of Eastenders et al. At least they’re in safe hands and we have a much better society, no social breakdown etc.

  • Pencil

    @Eddie

    How can OC say that Unitarians (known here as Non-Subscribing Presbyterians) don’t pass the test as being Christian because of their beliefs? They are not Trinitarians, true.

    But they they are followers of Christ, ergo they are Christians. That is what they regard themselves as. That is the foundations of their religion. So is it for others to say that they are not Christian.

    Yes, the compilers of the OED for a start. Hindus who revere Buddha as just another god in their pantheon are often not counted as Buddhists for example. I think that it is reasonable to say that some Unitarians are not Christians, and some Quakers are not Christians (more so in GB than NI statistically), and that in both cases some of them are. A church which permits atheists to join, whatever it’s history, is a church that includes non-Christians.

  • Eddie

    Well, if the Unitarian (or non-subscribing Presbyterian) churches in N Ireland declare themselves as Christian, who is to say that they are not Christian. Paisley? The Baptists? The Catholics? The CofI?

    Is there some official criteria laid down somewhere?
    If I were to say I was a Unionist, or Nationalist, who is to tell me I am not. If I were to say that I believe in Druidism, who is to tell me that I don’t?

    The Unitarians here – (they have a church on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin, by the way) – probably keep their heads down because of fear of attack from fundamentalists for their liberal theology.

    Again please read http://www.nspresbyterian.org

  • OC

    ‘The Unitarians here – (they have a church on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin, by the way) – probably keep their heads down because of fear of attack from fundamentalists for their liberal theology.’

    Posted by Eddie on Jan 14, 2009 @ 11:02 AM

    I hope that you don’t think that I am trying to offend you.

    BTW I’ve attended NeoPagan “services”, as well as Unitarian.

    In some ways the the Unitarian/Universalist Church resemble the Bahá’í faith.

  • Greenflag

    Swift

    ‘I guess today though morality and our views on social matters are the rightful property of the script writers of Eastenders et al’

    I would’nt think so . Both are ‘false ‘ alternatives the former (church ) based on history and clerical privilige and the latter (Eastenders ) on secular fashion ?

    Be kind to your friends in the swamp 😉