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Local College Announces New Principal.


Belfast Bible College has announced its new Principal. In a press release, the college wrote, “We are delighted to announce the appointment of our new Principal. Rev. James Burnett. He is currently the minister of Lowe Church Belfast and comes with considerable experience of Christian service – in leadership, teaching, pastoral ministry and mission activity.”

The college staff and students are looking forward to Mr Burnett’s leadership and on their website, the college lists his very impressive theological qualifications. I’ve no links with Belfast Bible College, but like any other minister, I’ve been asked for advice by young people who are seeking to follow a course of study, sometimes, to obtain ministerial qualifications. I’ve always been reluctant to recommend BBC, – in my opinion, it has a very chequered history. One local discernment ministry “Take Heed Ministries” has a web article outlining some past concerns, when Professor Robert Keay said that he believed in evolution, a comment which made another contributor to that debate quote, Romans 5:12 – “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” Doesn’t that require a literal Adam? Mr Keay tried to ‘spiritualise it away!’ I had listened to that debate myself, at that time. It prompted some of us to ask whether BBC really is an evangelical establishment, or whether it had fallen from its previous standards, perhaps in pursuit of academic acceptance with various secular universities?

But let’s come back to the present and on the surface, the new principal, Mr Burnett seems to be a highly qualified theological catch for the college, and I’ve no doubt that he is a godly sincere minister, but what’s his background? The college itself points us to his previous ministry position as the minister of Lowe Memorial Church in Belfast. It’s a Presbyterian (PCI) congregation, but its website makes no mention of that, beyond advertising a women’s group called ‘Presbyterian Women.’ Calling itself just ‘Lowe Church,’ there’s no openly available doctrinal statement, beyond the bland ‘mission statement.’ “Lowe Church, Belfast is a church celebrating worship, faith and community in the heart of South Belfast. Our passion is to connect people of all generations with Jesus so that everyone can discover life to the full in God. Our dream is to build an authentic community of worshippers that is bold enough to reach across all divides and strong enough to build bridges of unity through the power and love of God.” But a simple web search for Rev Burnett threw up this enlightening piece of information…

As well as various activities for young and old Lowe Memorial are also inviting people to come and explore their faith by taking part in the Alpha Course in the Devenish Complex every Wednesday from 7.30pm-9pm “We are partnering with three Catholic churches, St Michael’s, St Anne’s and Our Lady Queen of Peace, on this Alpha course,” said Rev Burnett. It’s a ten-week course which has the full approval of the Pope and the Catholic Church and is also fully approved by many of the Protestant churches as well …. We have so much in common and this course highlights it.”

Further ecumenical activities included a meeting addressed by Tyrone GAA football manager Mickey Harte. The church stated, “We want to be a cross-community church and we also want to strengthen our links with the GAA.”

Quite honestly, I’m shocked with such willing acceptance of false doctrine. The charismatic, ecumenical Alpha Course is bad enough in itself, but to offer it in cooperation with Roman Catholic parishes, emphasising that it has the approval of the pope, who is described in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the subordinate standard of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland as ‘That Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God. (WCF 25.6).’ Bad enough to express approval for the opinions of the so-called ‘papal antichrist,’ but to consider the GAA as a suitable partner for outreach is a step too far. The GAA is a nationalist sporting organisation which often names its venues after dead terrorists.

The minister who has presided over this ecumenical mess of potage will now be directing the work of Belfast Bible College. The college has been masquerading as evangelical for some time. The reality may be different. Will this new appointment improve that situation? It remains to be seen.

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