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12/07/2010 / John Hanna

“The Loyal Orders”

"The Loyal Orders"

It’s the Twelfth (also called Orangemen’s Day or, in Belfast, Orangefest) and I want to highlight a discussion paper published by the ABCI entitled “The Loyal Orders”. This is what the preface says:

Balance is indispensable. Without it no one could sit on a chair, stand upright, walk down the street or do any of the thousand and one other things taken for granted and that are essential for general well-being. What is true is in the physical realm is equally true in the spiritual. Balance is indispensable. Thus in the consideration of those religious groups with whom churches committed to Scripture may fellowship and co-operate, all groups must be considered and not just those from one particular point of view. There is a need to consider “Protestant” groups every bit as much a “Roman Catholic” groups. In the cultural context of Ireland this leads inevitably to a consideration of the “loyal orders”.

Since their inception, and in spite of their chequered history, the various Loyal Orders have woven their way into the very fibre of Protestantism in Northern Ireland. So much so that in the minds of many they are virtually synonymous, Protestantism is the Loyal Orders, the Loyal Orders are Protestantism. This has led to a deep reticence on the part of many to confront this issue at all. However it is of the essence of the Baptist position that everything should be brought to the bar of God’s Word no matter how difficult that may be. This is the great distinguishing mark of our Baptist principles.

We must be clear as to the questions being addressed in this paper. The issue is not whether it is possible to be a member of these organisations and be a Christian. It is readily acknowledged that there are true and sincere believers within the ranks of these organisations. Rather the issues being addressed are whether it is in accordance with the teaching of God’s word for:

  1. a believer in the Lord Jesus to be in membership in these groupings; and
  2. Baptist churches to have links with the Orders.

~ “The Loyal Orders”

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