Reform Ireland and General Synod 2000
Following a debate about the Church of Ireland Theological College (CITC) on the second day of the General Synod in Belfast, the official website report launched an attack on Reform Ireland. In this report, Archbishop Eames was extensively quoted in condemning Reform for their criticisms of the College.
It would appear from this report that the Church hierarchy is less interested in ensuring that ordinands at College are trained according to the doctrinal standards of the Church of Ireland than they are in closing ranks and defending the status quo. Reform Ireland respectfully asks the House of Bishops whether they are concerned that those being trained for the ordained ministry should believe in basic Christian teaching such as the deity of Christ, his Resurrection and Justification by Faith alone. It is these and other biblical and Anglican doctrines as outlined in the Articles and the Book of Common Prayer that are actively being denied in the theological formation of ministerial students.
Reform Ireland, along with many other Evangelicals, believes that the reluctance to tackle this problem in ministerial training is in large part due to the fact that the Church of Ireland is infected with the same virus that is destroying the Gospel witness of many western churches. Sadly we too have our share of Bishops and Clergy who are at best ambivalent about the authority of Scripture and at worst actively support views that are contrary to God's Word. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect that Bishops who have compromised the Gospel on this issue will criticize or remove those who are compromising the Gospel in the theological training of ministerial students.
Nevertheless, Reform will continue to call for the Church to return to Gospel standards in all areas of Church life. Neither the prophets of the Old Testament, not the Apostle Paul in the New Testament viewed themselves as indulging in a mere 'war of words' but actively rebuked false shepherds and teachers for leading astray the people of God. Our Lord too, reserved his harshest condemnation for those religious teachers whose false teaching prevented people from entering the Kingdom of God (Luke 11:52 cf. Matthew 23). The Church is clearly called both to promote the Gospel and to oppose false teaching, otherwise we fail in our mission to seek and to save the lost.
Reform Ireland welcomes General Synod's support for the motion on the Theological College, which was passed by more than 50 votes and looks forward to further contact with the new College Council. Contrary to the website report, Reform Ireland has in fact been in touch with both Archbishops and the College Council concerning these issues. In a meeting with the Archbishops in Dublin in January, Reform members were promised an immediate subsequent meeting with the College Council, but this was not forthcoming since the College Council then produced its own preconditions for such a meeting. Reform Ireland is at present trying to meet those preconditions, and aims to meet with the College Council when it officially launches later this year. 17th May 2000