Evangelism Islam Politics

Pastor McConnell and Islam

Pastor McConnell and Islam

This is an article I wrote for Christian Today on the controversy surrounding Pastor James McConnell from Northern Ireland and his remarks on Islam.  I found myself in a strange position on this one – agreeing neither with him or his detractors. Feel free to let me know what you think.

You could also have a look at Cranmers thoughts – here –




  1. Thanks as ever David for your insightful, wise and gracious writing. I always read with profit. I must admit I take a somewhat different view of Pastor McConnell’s words and for the following reasons. You are, of course, right to stress that all unsaved men and women, of whatever faith or none, are equally and eternally lost, but there is something especially evil about the very essence of the Islamic faith that calls for strong words. McConnell was careful to differentiate between the system and individuals within it, and there are of course many versions of Islam, but from personal mission and ministry experience and knowledge, I have no doubt that Islam as a faith system is particularly dangerous and evil. You also rightly point out that we should usually speak to and about the unsaved with respect and a longing for their salvation, and you give some good examples, but there are others on the other side. Jesus’ blistering denunciations of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 aren’t very respectful and his comment to the scribes and Pharisees recorded in John 8:44 that “you are of your father the devil” isn’t all that far removed from some of the things McConnell said. We need to pray for, witness to, respect, befriend and love Muslims but we shouldn’t hesitate denounce it, for it is, as a religious system, one of the most dangerous Satan has devised against the truth and as an expression of that is today brutally and sadistically persecuting tens of thousands of Christians – several known to me personally. Thanks again brother and keep up the great work.

  2. What I think is firstly that same in one respect about fear of what Islam can do as any other kind of fear. That is to not fear anything that can cause you physical death but after that can’t do any more but to fear him who after your body has been killed has the authority to throw you into hell.

    Then secondly the way to cast out fear, the way to cast out darkness, is not to fight it with more darkness but to let in and shine light.

    “T’was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace that fear relieved” John Newton (1725-1807)

  3. Dear David,

    This was an interesting article, thank you.

    I find myself in broad agreement with you on most points, particularly 2-4. I was unclear what exactly you mean by “A preacher is supposed to preach the Gospel from the pulpit and nothing else.” Are you meaning that all messages must be consistent with the gospel, rather than every sentence must directly refer to the gospel? What about themes relating to Christian living etc that are not explicit “gospel messages”? I was a bit confused by what exactly you mean here. Is there a biblical teaching that mentions the limitations of what must be preached from a pulpit?

    What I found most intriguing is that your criticisms made in points 2 and 4 are almost exactly the same criticisms I would make of your “attacks” on the Church of Scotland or its spokespeople on a regular basis and also the way you deal with people who think differently on the issue of homosexuality.

    When people raise concerns about the way you speak of (and to) Christians who think differently on homosexuality (whether supporters or people willing to live with difference in the church), the biblical examples you give tend to be more about Elijah and mockery of Baal worshippers or harsher examples in the Bible. You even wrote extensively in defence of criticisms that you were ” not nice”.

    Yet here, you say the following (words with which I agree wholeheartedly): “Look at how Jesus spoke to the Roman authority Pilate, or Paul spoke to Festus and King Agrippa. They spoke with respect and grace – even though they knew that they were lost and needed salvation. Actually they spoke with respect and grace because they knew that those they were speaking to needed salvation.”

    I would ask why these wise words are used here, but seem not to apply in your interchanges with secularists, liberals or evangelicals such as myself who disagree with your views on homosexuality (and seek dialogue and shared understanding but instead am continually put down, mocked or accused of spreading poison – I certainly haven’t felt welcomed with respect and grace, although appreciate that you still allow the postings)?

    It’s all quite confusing!

    1. Monk – The Good News is the whole bible – not just some part extracted from it.

      Your second more substantive point is well put but too simplistic. One way to annul any criticism is just simply to claim that anyone who critiques is ‘attacking’ and dismiss them for being unChristlike. I don’t accept the caricature but then you have already made your mind up.

      Don’t get confused! I find that Jesus is very strong (as are the prophets and apostles) on those who profess to follow him yet cause his name to be blasphemed because they distort, pervert and mock his word. Playing the hurt card and the nasty card may be a good smoke cover but it does not really help or deal with the question.

  4. Hi David
    Thanks for the reply. I don’t see where I used a caricature in that post?
    My point of interest is that you appeared to (correctly, in my view) identify that one of the most powerful ways of reaching people was with respect and grace, and you give biblical examples.
    However, in other debates you select different examples to justify a harsher approach.
    I have not ever dismissed you as a person. I have, however, suggested your methodology (in blog debates at least, I can’t comment on your pulpit) can at times lack that same respect and grace.
    I would love to have healthy, grace-filled and loving conversations with more conservative Christians. That is how I have found my faith to grow and develop and often I have learned new things and even changed my mind on issues as a result.
    For some reason I cannot really understand, however, it appears that if any dare express a view contrary to the conservative one on homosexuality, the respect and grace seem to evaporate and I am suddenly met with hostility, anger, accused of spreading poison and even at times having my personal relationship with Jesus called into question.
    Can you really not see the love of Christ coming through my words David? Can you really not see the genuine, heart-felt attempt to stimulate Godly dialogue?
    Must all my contributions be met with derision or saying things like I play the hurt card or try to side step issues all the time or spread poison?
    Can you genuinely not discern the heart of a brother in Christ? It worries me greatly, and if I’m honest scares me somewhat that answer appears to be no.
    Perhaps on this Pentecost weekend the Spirit will help break down the barriers of communication as happened once before at the beginnings of the Church…

    1. Monk – sorry I can’t see the love of Christ coming through your words. I am not in a position to make that kind of judgement. I just don’t know. What I do see is that you negate the Word of Christ, so I then have to ask what you mean by the love of Christ? Which Christ? I can see you as a brother in Christ (although again I am not in a position to judge) – your position however is one that on this issue, is profoundly unChristian in that it is against the teaching of Christ.

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