How would the Maker judge Paisley for his interpretation of the Word of God?

How would the Maker judge Paisley for his interpretation of the Word of God?

IF there is a God, and if that God is a harsh, weighing things up coldly kind of God, the kind of God from the Old Testament that Ian Paisley believed in - what is he going to make of Ian Paisley, who is now, presumably, standing in front of him?

What is he going to make of the man who fought so long and so hard for him? The man who spoke of him so often and who seemed to have a very clear understanding of God and of the things he did and didn't like.

Is he, God that is, going to join in the general political response to Ian Paisley's death and take into account only the last few years of his life and say, as did so many others, that any harm he did was outweighed by the final few years of good?

Is he, in fact, not going to see any of his past as harmful and thank Ian Paisley for his tirades against Catholicism, for instance?

Presumably he will, for if God is the God that Ian Paisley believed in then he is an all-seeing, all-knowing deity who looks out at the vast stretches of eternity and froths with anger about those who follow a false Christianity.

So will this God talk to Ian Paisley at the gates of heaven and ask him was it you who said of Catholics that 'they breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin' and did you say this in 1969 when violence was in the air?

And when Ian Paisley responds in the affirmative and says yes, that was me, God will surely thank him and admire him for not being put off by the danger to human life there was in Northern Ireland then.

He will ask him was it you that called Pope John Paul the 'scarlet woman of Rome' and thank him again when Ian Paisley says once more, yes that was me. He will ask him was it you who said on the death of Pope John XXIII that this 'Romish man of sin is now in hell' and when Ian Paisley says yes, that was me, this bitter, sectarian God will say thank you.

Because even with the vast stretches of eternity before him, this God, Ian Paisley's God, will still froth above in the clouds about a small corner of a small country in the world below. A place where his true followers are assailed by people who, though they believe in God, do so in a slightly different way and therefore have to be cast in to hell when they come before him.

And this God, Ian Paisley's God, will say to him that, even though many say of you that you fuelled the Troubles and the hatred, I, God, thank you for all that you did.

I thank you for the deaths of Michael Coleman and Joseph McAleese, the Catholic postmen machine gunned to death in 1973, by a man who later said his actions had been greatly influenced by statements made by you.

And surely He will say this because this is God after all and He does not have to deal with political realities but only with the truth.

God too will thank him for the death of Harry Bradshaw, the Protestant bus driver, shot in 1977 during a Loyalist strike whose wife said Ian Paisley was not 'free from blame' for her husband's death.

He will thank him too for the fact that even when three Catholic children, eight, nine, and 10 years old were killed by a Loyalist petrol bomb  in 1998, that he did not weaken but found it within his heart to say 'the IRA carried out far worse murders.'

And weighing it all up, Paisley's God will thank him for decades and decades of pouring more poison into an already horribly poisonous atmosphere.

Of course, all of this may be harsh but this God of Ian Paisley's is harsh and is unforgiving and will see the decades of hatred followed by the few short years of compromise as merely part of his plan.

He will agree with the DUP member who said of Paisley 'people are in jail for going over the top because they thought he was leading them there' and the Free Presbyterian colleague who said 'Ian will fight till the last drop of everyone else's blood' but praise him for it.

If there is a God, for God, after all, was who Ian Paisley said he spoke for.