James Spencer, after he informed us that he voted for the party that not only wants the country to do something akin to breaking with Rome but also have a policy akin to the desolation of the monasteries, (I wonder if UKIP will bring in branding laws for begging after they entirely scrap the welfare state) has written a post called Why is free speech dying? about the Belfast pastors rant against Islam here..
The post says
Pastor James McConnell of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast has gone and done it. He declared in a sermon that: “Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell”. Golly. Not since the Rev Ian Paisley got the boot into the pope as Old Redsocks and indeed as the Scarlet Woman herself have we heard anything quite so robust in the way of religious rhetoric. (Oddly enough, there was something almost lyrical about it; he had lovely cadences.) But the anti-popery tradition is precisely the context these remarks should be seen in. Evangelical Protestantism has a thing about false prophets; it also has a thing about telling it like it is. For most of its history it self-defined against Catholicism; Islam is just being judged by the same austere criteria of whether it accepts Jesus as a personal Lord and saviour…and I think it’s fair to say that it doesn’t.
Now it’s fair to say that I’m not of the Pastor’s flock. I may accept Jesus as my saviour, but as a Papist he probably thinks I don’t.
But if your beliefs are robustly attacked you robustly defend yourself, or help others to do so (that is why religions have clerics and atheists have bores).
You don’t complain to the police, not in a free country.
The thing one has to remember is that religious people love pointless arguments about semantics. Hence the reformed churches, after doing away with 5 of the sacraments, spent the next 500 years arguing amongst themselves about the other 2.
I believe that James accepts Jesus as his saviour. I partake of the Eucharist but James may believe that I only partake in a benediction. I’m with the Eastern Orthodox on Baptism so I’m definitely a heretic to all camps in the west. Though being of the reformed camp I add grace to theology to avoid such rigid pedantry.
The pastors position comes down to semantics. The word Pagan is from the Latin paganus meaning non-soldier. If adherence to the Nicene Creed is what defines the milites Christi then adherents of Islam are not. But as Evangelical pastors are similarly pedantic about the semantics of the word religion saying that the Latin religio means to be bound and they are free in Christ, so they are not religious, when only a religious person would use such pedantic rhetoric, it’s all a load of old squit anyway.