Dr. Ian Paisley was one of the most consistently courageous and principled Protestants who changed history during a time of tremendous apostasy.
I still remember the shock I felt when I heard that Dr. Ian Paisley was a key-note speaker at a Ministers Conference at KwaSizabantu Mission in Zululand. From everything that I had heard throughout my life, Ian Paisley was "a violent hate preacher", "the cause of all the troubles in Northern Ireland!" Yet, within just a few minutes of this powerful preacher standing up and taking the pulpit, it became clear to me that I had been a victim of disinformation. Dr. Ian Paisley was one of the boldest, bravest and most Biblical preachers it has ever been my privilege to hear!
I should have known better than to believe popular media. The Bible continually warns us against being deceived: "Lest satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11. We are warned that satan "…will go out to deceive the nations…" Revelation 20:8
An Age of Deception
In the Book of Revelation, we are told that at the end, God will send an angel to bind satan "so that he should deceive the nations no more…" Revelation 20:3. We are taught that: "satan who deceives the whole world…" Revelation 12:9. Plainly satan is deceiving nations today. If we find ourselves in general agreement with the world's media, Hollywood, the United Nations, or the World Council of Churches, then we must know that we are being deceived.
I could never forget the electrifying impact of Dr. Ian Paisley's preaching at the Ministers Conference. His exposition of Psalm 2 was a decisive call to stand up for Biblical fundamentals, and to oppose heresy and apostasy.
Outstanding Champion of the Faith
The times of fellowship over the meal tables with Dr. Ian Paisley were vibrant and inspiring. Dr. Ian Paisley was one of the most colourful and formidable champions of the Protestant Faith of the 20th century. He had an unusually retentive memory, a fast mind and a tremendous sense of humour. His breadth of knowledge and mental speed placed him far above all others.
On Sunday, 25 July 1993, the St. James Church of England in Cape Town was attacked by APLA terrorists of the Pan African Congress (PAC). 11 people were left dead and 50 wounded in this dreadful atrocity. While many reported on the incident, few were willing to tackle the media manipulation by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of the Church of the Province of South Africa (CPSA). The very next morning after the massacre, Desmond Tutu had his comments published on the front page of newspapers all over the world. That was extraordinary, considering that the attack had only taken place 7:30pm the night before! Naturally, the pastors of the Church of England were still reeling from the shock and engaged in helping the victims and relatives of those who had been so brutally attacked just the night before.
Desmond Tutu then barged into St. James and lied to the policemen on duty, claiming that he was the head of the denomination, in order to gain access to the site of massacre, with his media entourage. The pictures of Desmond Tutu in the stricken sanctuary were published worldwide. We received reports that most people worldwide believed that a black congregation of Desmond Tutu's CPSA had been attacked by "racist white terrorists!" As his were the only statements being published and his photographs were so widely distributed, that misperception was understandable. Most people are not aware that the Church of England (CESA) is an entirely separate denomination from Tutu's Church of the Province of South Africa, which is very liberal and part of the World Council of Churches. Reportedly vast quantities of aid poured into Tutu's organisations as a result of sympathy garnered by this opportunism and publicity stunt in the media.
Exposing Ecumenical Opportunism
We published an exposé in our Frontline Fellowship News, but our circulation, particularly in the early 1990's was quite limited. However, Dr. Ian Paisley, whom I had met the year before, at the Ministers Conference at KwaSizabantu Mission, was in correspondence with us and he picked up this report and published it widely through his Revivalist magazine and media contacts under his bold title: "The Lying Archbishop - The Vileness of Tutu!"
I found myself hauled before certain authorities over the embarrassment that I had caused by making this incident known internationally. No one questioned the facts of the incident, merely how embarrassing it was for Tutu and the cause of "Reconciliation."
Missions Conference in Belfast
Some years later, Dr. Ian Paisley invited me to Belfast to minister in the Easter Missions Conference at Martyrs Memorial Church. My host welcomed me to Ulster, "Where there are more born-again, Bible believers per square mile than anywhere else on earth!" The front doors of Martyrs Memorial Church were made of metal and had Martin Luther's 95 Theses engraved on them.
Exhilarating Worship Services
One of the first things I noticed was how very well-dressed everyone was, even for mid-week services. The church was packed, upstairs and downstairs, with ladies in dresses, wearing hats and gloves, men in suites, even the young people were dressed very well. The singing lifted the roof! The church was packed Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. On Sunday I was sent out to preach at four different congregations. My fourth and final service of the Lord's Day was from 9pm until midnight, with a Youth service. It was so jammed packed with well-dressed youth that I had to step over young people all the way down the aisle, and up the stairs into the pulpit. The hunger for the Word of God, the fervency in prayer, the exuberant singing of hymns and Psalms, were all unforgettable.
Catholics Won to Christ
I kept meeting so many people who had been Roman Catholics, but had been won to Christ through the ministry of Dr. Ian Paisley. I had continually heard how much Dr. Ian Paisley hated Catholics. It surprised me to find that he had managed to win so many Catholics to Christ. How could he have done that if he did not love them as souls for whom Christ died?
When I asked Dr. Ian Paisley about their Evangelistic programme amongst Roman Catholics, he sent one of his Evangelists around to me the next day. As we drove into Falls Road (notorious as the site of many riots through the years), it was clear that we were in a Roman Catholic area. Crucifixes, statues of Mary, the Irish Republic tricolour flags, and bold pro-IRA graffiti, dominated the area.
Door-to-Door Evangelism Despite Threats
I asked the Evangelist if he had much problem conducting ministry amongst Roman Catholics? He related to me how just a few weeks before he had been hooded and thrown into the back of a van, dragged into the basement of some home and threatened by masked men with an electric drill: "If you continue to work amongst our people we will kneecap you" they threatened. Kneecapping (shooting, or drilling, the knees) was the signature terrorism of the IRA – much as "necklacing" - burning someone to death in a petrol-soaked tyre, was Mandela's ANC signature terror tactic of intimidation. Yet such violent threats did not seem to have diminished this Evangelist's determination to place a Gospel of John in every Catholic home through door-to-door ministry!
On the Thursday night, Dr. Ian Paisley ended the Missions Conference with a call for men to stay behind and pray into the early hours of the morning. What an experience to kneel next to a giant of the Faith like Dr. Ian Paisley and hear his soul-searching calls unto the Throne of Grace! It was like being transported back in time to another era, in a time of Revival. It was like praying with the Puritans.
Open Air Street Preaching
The next day, Friday lunch time, Dr. Ian Paisley had us outside the City Hall in downtown Belfast, for an open-air preaching service. With a powerful PA system, he boomed the Gospel and then handed the microphone over to me to "preach Christ, and Him crucified!" It was an experience never to be forgotten. There we were surrounded by police, proclaiming the Gospel to downtown Belfast shoppers through a public address system that was reputed to be heard a quarter of a mile away.
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley was born 6 April 1926 in Armagh in Northern Ireland. His father James Kyle Paisley was an independent Baptist pastor. While Ian Paisley followed his father into the ministry, he adopted his mother's Presbyterianism. Ian Paisley delivered his first sermon at age 16 in a Mission hall in county Tyrone. In the 1940s he completed his Theological training at what is today the Wales Evangelical School of Theology, and then at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Hall in Belfast. Soon he was packing out a tent with over a thousand people for outreaches and Revival services.
The Founding of the Free Presbyterian Church
In 1951, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland was forbidden by the church authorities to hold a meeting in their own church hall, at which Ian Paisley was to be the speaker. The response of that congregation was to leave the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and begin a new denomination - The Free Presbyterian Church, with 25 year old Rev. Ian Paisley as its leader. For the next 57 years, Ian Paisley was re-elected every year as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, which grew to over 100 congregations under his leadership. The Free Presbyterian Church described itself as a fundamentalist, Reformed, Evangelical Church, requiring strict separation from any church which has departed from the fundamental doctrines of the Word of God.
To this end, Ian Paisley also launched the European Institute of Protestant Studies: "To expound the Bible, expose the papacy, and to promote, defend and maintain Biblical Protestantism in Europe and further afield", and The Whitefield College of the Bible. During the 1960s Ian Paisley developed a strong relationship with Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, from where he received a Doctorate of Divinity and served on their Board of Trustees.
The Revivalist and The Protestant Telegraph
In addition to writing many books, Ian Paisley launched the Revivalist Magazine from 1951 and the Protestant Telegraph newspaper in February 1966.
When Britain's Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother met the pope in 1958, Ian Paisley condemned them for "committing spiritual fornication and adultery with anti-Christ!" When asked if he regretted using such harsh words against royals, Ian Paisley explained that these were the terms used by the Reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin. He was a Protestant and he could not apologise for seeking to be true to the Faith.
When pope John XXIII died in June 1963, Ian Paisley proclaimed: "This Romish man of sin is now in hell!" He protested against the lowering of flags on public buildings in Belfast to mark the pope's death.
When pope John Paul II delivered a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ian Paisley stood up with a poster declaring: "Pope John Paul II anti-Christ." Using the words of the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer (who was burned at the stake at Oxford 1556): "As for the pope, I refuse him as Christ's enemy and anti-Christ, with all his false doctrines."
Protesting the Pope at the European Parliament
Ian Paisley's booming voice was clearly heard throughout the EU Parliament: "I denounce you, anti-Christ! I refuse you as Christ's enemy and anti-Christ with all your false doctrines!" As other MEPs assailed Dr. Paisley, snatching his poster away, he produced another and another from his inside jacket pocket. Ian Paisley was injured by other MEPs as he was forcibly removed from the chamber. However, as this incident was reported throughout the world, journalists noted that they could not remember anything of what the pope has said, but everyone remembered what Ian Paisley had so forcefully declared.
Following in His Father's Footsteps
Dr. Ian Paisley's father has served in the Ulster Volunteer Force under Edward Carson, and so it is understandable that Ian Paisley also became drawn into the political conflicts that engulfed Northern Ireland in the latter half of the 20th century.
Ian Paisley first hit the headlines in 1956, when he assisted Maura Lyons, a 15-year old Roman Catholic who had converted to Christ and sought sanctuary with the Free Presbyterian Church. A recording of her testimony was made available, but Ian Paisley refused to disclose her whereabouts, saying he would rather go to prison than return her to her Catholic family, against her own will and convictions.
Defending the Faith
As the Irish Republican Army (IRA) began mobilising their terrorist campaigns, Ian Paisley helped found the Ulster Protestant Action (UPA) to organise the defense of Protestant areas. As Irish Republicans marked the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising (the Irish Catholic Revolution of 1916), in April 1966, Ian Paisley helped found the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV).
On 6 June 1966, Ian Paisley led a march to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church against their Romeward trend of apostasy.
For organising a counter demonstration to the IRA, November 1968, Ian Paisley and Ronald Bunting were jailed. As Republican riots erupted in 1969 and British troops were deployed, violence spread throughout Northern Ireland.
Elected to Parliament
On 16 April 1970, Ian Paisley was elected to the Northern Ireland Parliament on behalf of the Protestant Unionist Party, winning the Bannside seat (formerly held by Prime Minister Terrance O' Neil). On 18 June 1970, in the United Kingdom general election, Ian Paisley also won the North Antrim seat, which began his incredible, record breaking 40-year career as a Member of Parliament at the House of Commons in London. On 30 September 1971, Ian Paisley founded the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which he was to lead for the next 37 years.
Resistance to Irish Republicanism
Ian Paisley galvanised the Protestants in Northern Ireland to resist the sell-out of their rights as citizens of the United Kingdom, through the Sunningdale Agreement of December 1973. This would have established a Council of Ireland as a step towards incorporating Protestant Northern Ireland into the Catholic Republic of Ireland. A general strike which lasted 14 days brought Northern Ireland to a standstill, collapsed the Agreement and brought down the new government. A later strike was called 3 May 1977 to force the British government to introduce tougher security measures against the IRA and to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland.
Member of the European Parliament
Although Ian Paisley fervently opposed the European Economic Community (EEC), and the European Union, which succeeded it, he stood for election to the European Parliament in 1979, in order to give voice to the opposition of Northern Ireland to the EU agenda. In June 1979, in the first election to the European Parliament, Ian Paisley won one of the three Northern Ireland seats, topping the pole with the highest majority throughout the EU. He easily retained his seat in every European election for the next 25 years until he retired in 2004, receiving the highest popular vote of any British MEP.
Ulster Says No!
In 1981, as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was holding talks with the Irish Prime Minister, Charles Haughey, Ian Paisley launched the Ulster Third Force, a Protestant loyalist militia to work alongside the police and army to fight the IRA. The Anglo Irish Agreement signed by the British and Irish governments 15 November 1985 was denounced by Protestants in Northern Ireland. At a massive rally held outside the Belfast City Hall, 23 November 1985, Ian Paisley mobilised the citizens of Northern Ireland under the banner: "Ulster says NO!" In his address to the hundreds-of-thousands assembled in front of Belfast City Hall, Ian Paisley declared: "Where do the terrorists operate from? From the Irish Republic! Where do the terrorists return to for sanctuary? To the Irish Republic! And yet Mrs Thatcher tells us that the Republic must have some say in our province. We say never! Never! Never! Never!"
On 23 June 1986, Ian Paisley and other unionist politicians occupied the Stormont Parliamentary buildings in protest at the agreement. On 10 July, Ian Paisley led 4,000 loyalists in an early morning protest to take over and occupy the town of Hillsborough in protest against the agreement, which was being negotiated there by the British and Irish governments. On 10 November 1986, in the Ulster Hall, Ian Paisley announced the formation of the Ulster Resistance paramilitary organisation to resist the IRA.
Resisting British Betrayal
On 9 December 1986, Ian Paisley was again ejected from the European Parliament for interrupting a speech by Margaret Thatcher. He boldly lifted up a poster declaring "Ulster says No!" Ian Paisley told me that what the British Foreign Office had done in betraying Rhodesia to the communists, was what the British Home Office was seeking to do to Northern Ireland - betraying them to Marxist IRA revolutionaries.
Victory Over Terrorism
In 2005, as his Democratic Unionist Party swept the board and achieved overwhelming majority in Northern Ireland elections, Ian Paisley was made a Privy Counsellor to the Queen. In the face of such relentless, steadfast, principled opposition, the IRA was finally compelled to abandon their armed struggle, to decommission their weapons, and to officially recognise the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the jurisdiction of the courts and the law of the land. This finally opened the way towards peace talks and a government of national unity.
First Minister of Northern Ireland
In 2007, at age 81, Ian Paisley became the First Minister of Northern Ireland. In January 2008, Ian Paisley retired as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church and 4 March 2008, he stood down as leader of the DUP. In May 2008, Ian Paisley retired as First Minister of Northern Ireland and in 2010 he stepped down as Member of Parliament after 40 years serving in the House of Commons. His son, Ian Paisley (Junior), was elected to succeed him in the next general election 6 May 2010. His wife Eileen Paisley is a Baroness in the House of Lords and his son, Kyle, a minister of the Gospel. On 18 June 2010 Ian Paisley was created a Life Peer as Lord Bannside and introduced to the House of Lords, 5 July 2010. He delivered his final sermon to a packed Martyrs Memorial Church, 18 December 2011 and retired at age 85.
Ian Paisley Changed History
The impact of Ian Paisley on the history of Northern Ireland is incalculable. No one has had a greater impact on both the spiritual and political life of Northern Ireland than Ian Paisley in the last century. 88 years. 40 years in politics as Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. 37 years as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. 25 years as Member of the European Parliament. 13 years as Member of Northern Ireland Assembly. 3 years as Member of the House of Lords. 72 years as a preacher of the Gospel of Christ.
In a tumultuous century of treachery and apostasy, Dr. Ian Paisley shone brightly and changed part of the world for the better. Through his energetic and sacrificial service and bold and Biblical stands, he changed history. Very few people can be said to have actually changed history, but there is no doubt that Dr. Ian Paisley saved Northern Ireland from being betrayed early in the 1970s and preserved its position in the United Kingdom. Dr. Paisley stands out as the most faithful champion of the Protestant Faith and the most consistent and affective opponent of the Roman papacy and the apostate World Council of Churches in our time. Dr. Ian Paisley stands out as a tremendous example of excellence, inspiring Protestants throughout the world.
One of the 20 Greatest Christian Leaders of the 20th Century
Several years ago, as I was planning a series of history books to cover the last 500 years, I determined that Dr. Ian Paisley was definitely one of the 20 most important Christians of the 20th century. I have already completed The Greatest Century of Reformation, with 16 character studies to cover the 16th century, and The Greatest Century of Missions, with 19 character studies to cover the 19th century. I am still working on The Greatest Century of Persecution, to cover the 20th century. One chapter will be dedicated to the extraordinary life and legacy of Dr. Ian Paisley.
Defying Death Threats
It is extraordinary that Dr. Ian Paisley lived 88 years and died of natural causes. Since the 1960s he was at the top of the IRA's Hit List. Dr. Ian Paisley actually was given more security than even the Prime Minister of Great Britain. His level of security was roughly equal to that of the Queen. As the man who had received more death threats than any other, the police routinely transported him in an armoured car. All his windows had to be replaced, both at church and at home, with bullet and bomb proof windows. Lights, cameras, and other security measures, were installed wherever he worked, or lived. Yet, none of this seemed to have daunted this courageous Protestant Reformer.
Ian Paisley is Not Dead
As Dr. Ian Paisley so eloquently declared from his pulpit: "One day you will read that Ian Paisley is dead. Don't believe it! I will be more alive than ever before!" Death for the Christian is not fatal. Death for the Christian is not final. We serve a Risen Saviour. Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. We praise God for the extraordinary life and legacy of Dr. Ian Paisley. He can truly say: "I have run the race. I have kept the Faith!"
Dr. Peter Hammond