Friday, November 22, 2019
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When the word of God counts as hate speech

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EARLIER this month another pastor and I were preaching the gospel in Uxbridge, the Prime Minister’s constituency. We were near the Underground station, so there were plenty of passers-by. Because of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests in the centre of the capital we displayed a poster which read as follows:

Climate change anxiety is what happens when people no longer fear the God who controls the climate. Such anxiety is unnecessary, because the Lord has promised, ‘While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter . . . shall not cease’ (Genesis 8:22).

The response to the poster shows how accurate was Dr Campbell-Jack’s TCW posting last Sunday, when he linked the activities of the XR protesters to the abandonment in the West of the Christian faith. It became clear to us that the whole climate-angst phenomenon is indicative of a grave spiritual malaise in our society.

One man walking by claimed that we were contributing to the likelihood of young people committing suicide! We thought this strange logic, since the other poster which we had set up carried the words ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).

Another young man became irate about the climate change poster, and astonishingly declared that it constituted hate speech. Being incensed that Christian preachers should dare to speak of the providence of God in determining the state of the climate, he proceeded to untie it from its stand, walked off with it, and then aggressively ripped it out of its aluminium frame. He continued walking briskly away, full of righteous indignation, in order to dispose of what he deemed to be an offensive object. He thought that his cause gave him the moral right to tamper with the private property of others.

This incident shows that many climate change protesters carry within them a strong religious-type conviction in their honouring of ‘Mother Earth’, whose sanctity must not be violated. This, however, is God-rejecting paganism. Yes, of course we must be good stewards of the environment, but that does not mean that we should ignore the resources which God in His common grace has placed within the earth for the service of mankind.

Job 28:2, for example, speaks plainly about mining with not the slightest suggestion that it is a harmful activity. Psalm 24:1 declares ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof’. So it is the Lord who has placed the fossil fuels in the earth’s surface for man’s benefit, and what a wonderful blessing they are, by, for example, powering the tractors and combine harvesters which bring in our food from the fields.

The climate change protesters are openly rejecting the Biblical revelation concerning God’s ongoing government of the natural world. It is therefore particularly irritating to see mainstream churches (many of which long ago abandoned the preaching of the gospel of salvation) eagerly jumping on to the eco-bandwagon.

Let us take to heart exactly what this young man in Uxbridge was doing. He was trying to prevent a public display of the Christian Scriptures. He was calling the word of God ‘hate’ speech. This tells us that many people are anxious about climate change precisely because they have turned away from the God who controls the climate and who has caused it to vary, even dramatically, throughout human history.

As a Christian pastor, I courteously suggest to the XR protesters that they think hard about the unseemly character of self-righteousness and that they humble themselves before Him whose disciples declared, when He had stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ (Mark 4:41).

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Peter Simpson
Peter Simpson
Pastor Peter Simpson has been Minister of Penn Free Methodist Church in Buckinghamshire since 1990, and is a keen open air preacher.

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