While away on holidays, I am keeping somewhat in touch with what is going on at home, and I hear that Ian Paisley has died. Well, in Christian charity, let us pray for him and commend his soul to the mercy of God.
I am aware that many Irish people will respond in different ways to this man's death. He was a divisive figure and many believe that if it was not for him the Troubles in Northern Ireland could well have been over sooner, or not as bad. That view will no doubt be debated by historians for years, but in all honesty, there is an argument to be made that this man did have blood on his hands. His fiery preaching and invective spread hatred, violence and incited many to dastardly deeds, including cold blooded murder, contributing to the spiral of murder and mayhem in Northern Ireland.
While that has to be acknowledged, we also have to acknowledge in all honesty, that Paisley eventually embraced peace and finally spoke to those who were his enemies. This change of heart on his part was one of the major turning points in the quest for peace in Northern Ireland, so much so that it is possible to say now what many would have thought impossible before: that Ian Paisley would die a man of peace.
Paisley's legacy is a mixed one, he was a complicated and complex man, as are most of us. But in his change of heart, whatever the cause, we can see some hope not just for him but for all us. Some will mourn his passing, some will rejoice, but as Christians I hope many Irish will commend him to God and allow the Lord to judge him. In charity it would be the heroic thing for us to accompany his passing with prayers for his soul. During the Troubles in Northern Ireland many Christians of whatever hue forgot that they were supposed to be followers of Christ, at least now let us remember that we are and seek to let his kingdom come into our midst.