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  • Writer's pictureHarry Smith

You can’t talk about that here!

Updated: Apr 16

As many of my Facebook friends know, over lockdown I have been researching the roots of what has been called, “the empire spirit” here in Ireland. By this, I mean the spirit that entered into the Church in 33OAD when the Roman Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity and it was made the official religion of the empire by his successor. Christendom was born – Christianity without a conversion experience and greatly utilised for the expansion of the Empire.


This spirit entered into Ireland when in the mid 12th Century, the Papacy gave the English king, King Henry II, authority to bring Ireland under the influence of the Crown, and the aberrant Celtic Church under control of the Catholic Church – this was in the early days of the development of the little known, “Doctrine of Discovery.” It is something that was to traverse the Reformation and has continued to influence both Church and politics here, to this day. It is the subject of a draft booklet I have written, called “A Tree has Roots.”


Over the last six plus months, I have been giving a growing number of Church and Ministry leaders here in Ireland, a copy of  “A Tree has Roots” to read and get their feedback. The majority of them have been amazed with my findings. It addresses our age old divisions, but it no longer shows them as “us” verses “them.” It puts the covenantal nature of the Ulster Covenant and the Easter Proclamation into the realm of being fruits of this “spirit” and raises the awareness that both communities have been profoundly influenced by it. This has the potential of providing a new narrative, as Churches in Ireland, to work together for peace and change the political landscape. But it nevertheless requires us to re-evaluate our tribal interpretations of history.


This is where the dominant comment in the feedback comes in: “What do we do with this?” I have grappled with this question for years, indeed ever since writing my book “Heal not Lightly.” We are dealing with an ancient, well-established, demonic spirit, that has embedded itself into both of our communities. It has for just over 100 years expressed itself in the two covenants of 1912 & 1916. It has been behind the bipartisan politics in Stormont and is responsible for the fourth collapse on the Northern Ireland Assembly since the Good Friday Agreement. 


The problem? 


We cannot talk about this issue in Church! We cannot pray into it in our Church prayer gatherings! It is so unconsciously embedded into our corporate psyches that it has become what is theologically known as a “generational iniquity”, what Nehemiah addresses as “the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.”


The reality is, that if approximately 85% of adult males in the Protestant community signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912, then generationally, young adults in traditional and new churches are affected by it! As I have said, if you talk about it; call it out or ask men to renounce it, you will most likely, as a minister, have a problem on your hands. There is also a parallel issue to be addressed within the Catholic/Nationalist community.


How can we, as the Church in Ireland, be carriers of God’s healing redemptive presence unless this is acknowledged and repented of? How much longer will we continue to bow one knee to God as we pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in Ireland, as it is in heaven” while we bow the other knee to the idol of Protestant/Unionists or Irish nationalism? The problem is, that this sin has not been called out in the Church. We are blind to it. Just as the majority of the congregation is under its spell, so too are its clergy! 


In Romans 12:2 we read, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Yet, in this, we have been conforming to “the pattern of this world”! Where this is the case, Paul is saying to us that we are not capable of discerning this; to know what God thinks about it. We are therefore unable to know His good, pleasing and perfect will, for us as His people in our communities. Revelation is needed!


So, how do we initiate a much-needed new narrative? How can we begin to communicate this spiritual reality to a secular world, if a vast part of the Church is not understanding that it is living out of this demonic delusion? This is very much a part of “our wicked ways” that we read about in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

What do we do with this? 


How do we move it forward? I wish I knew. I know that it needs to be seriously taken up by our Church Leadership and in prayer. I believe God has put His finger on something, so there has to be a way forward. Perhaps it starts at an individual level: What’s the response in your spirit as you have read this?

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