Monday, March 26, 2007

Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, Belfast

It is about 30 years since I visited Paisley's home church but the memory remains vivid.

First of all I had to resist a strong temptation to adorn its walls with the slogan 'No other pope here'. The I felt I had to secrete my RSV bible on my person as I entered as the noticeboard announced it was a Authorised Version only place.

My first surprise was all the images. All those martyrs' busts. I thought it was only papists had images.

The the hymnbook, definitely old fashioned evangelical or US fundamentalist, not really a reformed Presbyterian hymnal.

The Big Man was away. A colleague gave a reasonably competent exposition of a passage from Daniel until he alluded to the things God hates in Proverbs. The first is hands swift to shed blood.'I think we can spiritualize this', said the preacher.

To my dying day I shall regret that I heard this in silence. I am now older and perhaps wiser. I am certainly more confident and bold. What I should have done was to have stood up and interrupted the sermon shouting that of all the places in the world where you need to know God literally hates hands that shed blood, 1970s Northern Ireland was probably the prime location.

Yes I would have been thrown out but I would have been happy to be ejected if I had made one person think correctly.

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