Presbyterian Mutual, Stafford Carson and Mental Reservation

Pete has a blog on the PMS saga below which updates the current situation following the Treasury Select Committee Report. Included within the criticisms was that of the Presbyterian Church itself. The moderator Rev Dr Stafford Carson was on Good Morning Ulster and accepted that the initial position of the PCI claiming that the PMS was nothing to do with it was wrong. However, when pressed over the possibility of the PCI providing money to the PMS savers he said the PCI had no such funds. When it was pointed out that the Presbyterian Church has very considerable assets, Dr. Carson claimed that that was in the form of churches and church halls and as such there was no property which the church could sell off to help the PMS savers.

To digress for a moment the Catholic church seem to have a concept called Mental Reservation which allowed priests and the like to tell lies and yet somehow not fall foul of the ninth commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”Whilst not an ecumenist Dr. Carson seems to have adopted a remarkably similar stance on this issue. The Presbyterian church owns Church House in the middle of Belfast which includes the Spires shopping mall.

In addition they own at least some (maybe all) of the following valuable properties:

Union Theological College in the university area of Belfast

The Bush Cafe: a terraced house on Elmwood Avenue in the university area of Belfast

Derryvolgie Halls on Derryvoglie Avenue between the Lisburn and Malone Roads in Belfast

Guysmere Youth Centre in Castlerock

Even now the PCI could sell (or even just mortgage) some of these assets to help the PMS savers. Clearly that would involve some pain and might even impede some of the worthwhile things the church can do. However, it would also demonstrate that the church understands its responsibilities to the PMS savers and is doing more than crying to the government whilst doing nothing practical itself. To quote James 2:14-20:

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

Or even more damningly Our Lord’s words in Mark 12: 38-40:

“And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.”

I posted a similar (though shorter) set of comments on Dr. Carson’s blog earlier today: they have subsequently been removed and I have received an email from Dr. Carson; he has been invited to join us here on slugger.

Update to update:
To be fair my comments have been restored.

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