The case against Pastor McConnell and the Gospel

This week in Belfast, capital city of Northern Ireland – a country that would still regard itself as a very Christian country – Pastor James McConnell faces trial over remarks he made in a 2014 sermon about Islam. He stated “People say there are good Muslims in Britain – that may be so – but I don’t trust them. Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.” Following hearing a recording of that sermon on the internet (after being conytacted by a newspaper asking for a comment on it) Dr Raied Al-Wazzan of the Belfast Islamic Centre lodged a complaint with the police that has resulted in the trial of Pastor McConnell for ‘making offensive remarks against Islam’.

{As an interesting note Dr Raied Al-Wazzan has pulled out of the trial due to controversy over remarks he has made praising Islamic State (remarks for which he has not faced court action) however the trial is still continuing.}

So let’s look at what Pastor McConnell said, what the Bible says, and why this matters for us.

Firstly, the “I don’t trust them” remark – there is no denying it, that is irresponsible for anyone to make such a sweeping stereotype of every single Muslim person in Britain, and is not the sort of bigoted remark you would expect of any Christian, never mind the leader (at the time) of one of Northern Ireland’s largest churches. It definitely flies against Jesus’ command to love your neighbour as yourself and the parable of the good Samaritan that reminds us sometimes our neighbour doesn’t share our faith. But while that remark was wrong and foolish, it is not the remark that got Pastor McConnell in hot water. The real issue that has led to this trial is what he went on to say about Islam the religion – “Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.”

The dictionary defines “heathen” as “a person who does not belong to a widely held religion”. In Northern Ireland the “widely held religion” is Christianity. In court cases in the UK witnesses are asked to take an oath on the Bible to tell the truth and nothing but the truth while in the stand. That Bible includes the Gospel of John, where Jesus says in John 14:6I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is a central teaching of the Christian faith – Jesus is the only way to salvation. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. There is no other way according to the teachings of Jesus. It therefore stands to reason that if you are preaching Jesus as the only way to have eternal life then all other options that claim to offer eternal life must be viewed by you as false. They must be lies. We are reminded by Jesus that the devil is the originator of all lies in John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” So therefore combining that with Jesus’ teaching that He is the only way to the Father we must conclude that either Jesus was lying or if He was telling the truth then all other religions that claim to offer a way to eternal life without faith in Jesus must be lies concocted by the father of lies, the devil – Satan. SO we must conclude that if we accept Jesus’ teachings as truth then the only category available for us to define Islam is a satanic false doctrine. That does not mean Muslims are evil people. It does not mean they are untrustworthy. It does not mean they are terrorists. Simply that they have been deluded by the father of lies. Just like everyone else from all other non-Christian religions (including atheism) have been deluded by the father of lies. And when we realise this we realise the implication of this trial. For if it is found that Pastor McConnell was wrong to say what he said about Islam then the implication is that we as Christians will be unable to freely proclaim what the entire Bible makes as its central claim – that we can be saved only by Jesus, that there is no other name on heaven or on earth by which people can be saved.

We are warned that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and turn away from listening to truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). We live in an age of political correctness and equality, where everyone is entitled to believe what they want and advocate for it. Unless that happens to be orthodox Christianity. Because teaching that Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life does not sit easily with the itching ears of today’s society which seeks a version of universalism that says all beliefs are equally valid and equally true. Perhaps the real offense in Pastor McConnell’s message was his uncompromising belief in the truth of the exclusively inclusive saviour of the Gospel – Jesus Christ. The saviour who tells us that all can come to the Father through Him, but who reminds us that we can only come to the Father through Him and that all other religious systems claiming to offer eternal life are heathen satanic lies.

These next few days will be a real landmark case that determines if Northern Ireland is going to attempt to silence the gospel. This trial is about much more than one East Belfast pastor and his remarks on Islam. This is about the freedom of all of us to declare our Christian faith. This is the case of the sound teaching of Jesus Christ verses the passions of itching ears that yearn for universalism. Join us in praying for justice to be done this week!

pastor mcconnell

Learn more the author of this post:

Pete McM

The original founder of All4God, Pete is 26, lives in Northern Ireland, is a junior doctor, Ulster fan and is passionate about Jesus

  • http://www.ulster-scots.co.uk/ Kilsally

    Pastor McConnell has said he loves all Muslims on numerous occasions.

    • damselsanddragonflies

      As a muslim on the recieving end of this ‘love’. I’d say actions speak louder than words. He came to the mosque a few years ago and was extremely rude and unpleasant. I do think he means well and I am in 2 minds about this case. I do wish he’d understand WHY you can just go around saying whole groups of people are untrustworthy and how his words can impact in the lives of others. I know from experience many Christians here believe muslims are taught to lie and will automatically distrust me. How can I prove otherwise?

      • Marcin .Kozak

        Good question, how can you? When Quran clearly states that you should not be friend with anyone who’s not muslim, nor should you trust any of them, and when your high priests state that you should lie to infidels, and it’s not only to protect yourself from harm. Indeed, how can you?

        • damselsanddragonflies

          There are no high priests, or apart from Shia minority sects even a hierarchy/pope like Catholics. we are not told to lie to non-muslims (infidel is the word western Christians used for orthodox Christians, Jews and muslims during crusades so I wont use it in this context). Lying is a sin. Yes if someone lies in risk of their life they will be forgiven. But thats not the same as being ALLOWED to lie. Same as you can eat pork if alternative is to starve. Its being reasonable. Btw. Plenty of bible verses say Christians shouldnt befriend anyone but other Christians. Muslims are not forbidden to have friends or work for or live under non muslim rulers. The verse you refer to uses the word awliyaa which means a very specific case – intimate friend who could influence you to sin- such as the bible verse – be ye not unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Anyways from your perspective I’m a liar by default so no point in arguing. This article was posted in reply to a post on twitter I came to give readers another perspective. There is a lot of false rubbish about muslims these days. Its kinda depressing always being the bogeyman. Continue with your hate. Salam (peace).

          • Marcin .Kozak

            Don’t be unfair, making yourself a victim. And don’t mistake me for a Christian. Gently saying I’m not for religions at all, but it’s good that you stand somewhat reasonable point of view. And respond to common questions. So there is hierarchy in some part of Islam. Let’s leave that. It doesn’t change the fact people are still yelling around threatening to kill and rape. Nor does it change the closed, prohibited districts in UK or France, nor does it change forced “toleration” based on banning many things that is not Islam – so people don’t get “offended”. See, even now you are accusing me of hate without knowing me, only because I asked about something based on my own research, and which became quite a thing. And those yellings and crimes I talk about? It doesn’t really take much to find relations from many, many sources. That leads to conclusion that for you your religion and Quran is all fine and a lot people misinterpret it for their purpose or to do wrong things. “Continue with your hate”. Or discuss, show and explain, if you wish. Peace.

          • Naomi

            Look I am a muslim, I have lived in muslim majority countries and as a minority in a Christian country. What I see is a lot of exaggeration in the media. The angry loonies are the minority. They get the headlines and he stories sell the papers but they no not represent my faith, me or my family and friends. Muslims often stand between extremists and minorities and muslims are the the ones who have beem killed and suffer most from them because they live in areas they attack. Muslims are not forever being offended – this action against the pastor was by 1 or 2 muslims and the rest non muslim. Most muslims in the community wanted nothing to do with it and it was whipped up to hysteria by the press. Take Christmas for

          • damsels and dragonflies

            I apologise if i misunderstood you. I assumed you were yet another of those who believe all muslims lie and I’m fed up with that debate. You cannot reason with someone who thinks you are a liar to start with. Look I am a muslim, I have lived in muslim majority countries and as a minority in a Christian country. What I see is a lot of exaggeration in the media. The angry loonies are the minority. They get the headlines and he stories sell the papers but they no not represent my faith, me or my family and friends. Muslims often stand between extremists and minorities and muslims are the the ones who have beem killed and suffer most from them because they live in areas they attack. Lots of non muslim countries are in turmoil. It just isnt so interesting these days. Top 3 countries for Femicide for example are non muslim. Muslims are not forever being offended – this action against the pastor was by 1 or 2 muslims and the rest non muslim. Most muslims in the community wanted nothing to do with it and it was whipped up to hysteria by the press. Take Christmas for another example. Are most muslims offended – no. In fact go to the middle east now and you will see Christmas trees in many places. Obviously not Saudi or Iran but they are totalitarian regimes. They dont even let muslims have freedoms.

          • damsels and dragonflies

            Also as a woman I’ve walked alone in muslim countries and feel a whole lot safer than on the streets of Belfast on a Thursday or Weekend night. Not all muslim/arab men are rapists and not all rapists are muslim despite the stereotypes.

  • Orwell Ian

    The
    further a society drifts from truth the more they will hate those
    that speak it ― George Orwell

  • Ted Crilly

    Pastor McConnell is a cunt

  • DamselsandDragonflies

    Can I also add as someone who knows Dr Wassan. He did not ‘praise’ Islamic state. His comment was in regards to the standard of living under the Shia regime – which was also brutal. Much as we in the west like to imagine we created utopia and democracy we destroyed the place. While most of us live in relative peace and prosperity Dr Wazzan’s family live in a dire situation under ISIS and previously under the corrupt regime that was installed before.
    Also remember while you and me can say whatever we like about ISIS scum, those with relatives there have to be VERY careful as careless words could result in a death sentence for their families.