As a result of extensive media interest in Rev Peter McIntyre’s article on the Protestant at the Mass (Ulster Bulwark April-June 2018), he had opportunities to engage in public correspondence in the “Irish News”. Criticism of his article from some quarters opened the door for a useful exchange of views. Mr McIntyre, who is minister of Clogher Valley Free Presbyterian Church, also wrote the following which was published in the “Fermanagh Herald”.
As a Minister of the Gospel, I consider officiating at the Lord’s Supper to be the most humbling and sacred duty associated with my calling. On every occasion the same passage is read from St Paul’s 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. The congregation is solemnly charged to examine their own hearts, the bread and wine are distributed as tangible symbols of our Saviour’s broken body and shed blood and we are reminded that this is His sacrament; “Do this in remembrance of me”. There is no consecration of the symbols, there is no change of substance, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, yet by faith we are nourished by the merits of Christ, our only hope in a corrupt and broken world.
Another privilege as a Gospel minister is to share in the grief of others and be used by God to bring the only comfort that is meaningful, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, in times of loss. I have learned as a pastor that for those who know Jesus Christ as Saviour death is triumphant; the assurance that a dear one is now in the presence of the Lord, where weeping and pain is vanquished, is overwhelming. There is no sense of insecurity, no need for prayers and Masses for the dead, the faith in Christ’s death and resurrection that the one departed is at peace forever, is all prevailing.
Several years ago in Co Carlow while sharing the Gospel at the National Ploughing Championships, a Roman Catholic lady from Cork told me that she no longer went to the confessional. Her reason I will never forget, “I confess my sins to Jesus Christ my great high priest”.
Relating this story I have told congregations that if this lady is trusting Jesus Christ as her only priest, she will be in heaven. After all, the Protestant Reformers who 500 years ago changed Christendom forever, were all priests within the church, and every one of them is in heaven. No-one is in heaven because they are either Protestant or Roman Catholic. In fact all of us regardless of our denominational affiliation have sinned and are equally deserving of God’s wrath. The only passport to heaven is Jesus Christ, Christ alone.
What my friend in Cork and what the Protestant Reformers overcame were the barriers that the church had employed to keep men and women from God . Herein lies my greatest difficulty with the Mass and other Roman Catholic doctrines.
Instead of trusting in Christ’s one sacrifice the worshipper is taught that the wafer and wine has become quite literally the Son of God. Instead of going direct to Christ, confessing sin to him and asking for his forgiveness, the penitent is taught to find this forgiveness from a priest who acts in the stead of God rather than believing the departed faithful are in Heaven, prayers and masses must be said for their relief in purgatory.
We need to listen out for the simple words of the Saviour echoing down the corridors of time, preserved in the simplicity of God’s Word – “I am the light of the world”, “I am The way, the truth and the life”.