Pastor James McConnell in Belfast is to be prosecuted for describing Islam as “satanic” and “the spawn of the devil.” Whatever we may think of the details of this case this is a VERY serious development.
I am totally in favour of treating Muslims with respect – of loving our Muslim neighbours. I also believe we should be careful how we speak about other religions in the presence of their adherents. We should express disagreements in ways which do not cause unnecessary distress.
But we MUST be free to express our disagreement just as Muslims disagree with us Christians.
If Pastor McConnell is convicted then the implications for Christians are extremely serious. Presumably they will be forbidden to quote important passages of the New Testament publicly. Let me briefly summarise:
• Jesus said that those who hear the Christian message but don’t continue to believe it have been deceived by the devil (Luke 8:12).
• St Paul says the minds of people who don’t accept the Christian message are blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4)
• St John says those who don’t believe Jesus is God’s Son are condemned by God already. God’s wrath remains on them. He also says anyone who denies Jesus is the Christ is a liar and an antichrist. His belief is not from God (John 3:18-19, 36; 1 John 2:22; 2 John 7; 1 John 4:2-3).
If we reach a point where Christians will be prevented from quoting such passages publicly then that means we will be forbidden to proclaim crucially important aspects of the gospel. The gospel is good news for those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God, but is a serious matter for any who consciously reject him. The result will be serious persecution of Christians in the UK.