The attack came out of the blue and out of the night. Beneath the shadow of The Shard, Europe’s tallest skyscraper, terror hit the streets of Britain again.
At shortly after 10pm, a white B&Q van being driven at speeds of up to 50 mph mounted the pavement at London Bridge and ploughed into pedestrians. After the van came to a halt, three men wielding knives 10 inches long began attacking passers-by, entering restaurant and Saturday night diners. People stabbed, throats sliced, screaming, running.
We call them terrorists; they call themselves Muslims. They seem to possess identical talents. An eye-witness on London Bridge told the BBC he saw three men stabbing people indiscriminately, shouting “This is for Allah!”
That’s Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
Presumably the Islamists repudiate all references to Allah’s talents of love and mercy, preferring to home in on those sections of the Qur’an which advocate war against unbelievers and death to idolaters. Or perhaps they conflate the two, believing that Allah’s love and mercy are transcendently different from creaturely apprehension: his talent for killing is mercy; his jihadic talent is love.
If these terrorists who call themselves Muslims are quite open about waging jihad for Allah, who are we to say that it’s ‘nothing to do with Islam’? Why do politicians feign bewilderment, and clergymen preach incomprehension? Burying one’s head in the sand is really not a thrilling talent. If the Islamists bomb nightclubs and pop concerts, and stab shoppers and revellers, and do it all “for Allah”, is it not clear that they hate our liberty, despise our entertainment, and loathe our materialism, permissiveness and licentiousness? And they do so because Allah demands purity, holiness and submission to his precepts. We won’t ‘learn lessons’ (as the politicians tediously intone) if we turn a deaf ear to cries of ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘This is for Allah’,
I’m reminded of the statement that Paul the Apostle wrote in his letter to the Church in Ephesus ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’.
Within hours of this atrocity, the Christian Church celebrated Pentecost – Whitsun – the day the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and other believers in Jerusalem. There was a mighty wind and tongues of fire, and people were filled with power:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17f).
The Spirit that came at Pentecost was power. That same Spirit which raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in believers today (Rom 8:11), but it didn’t seem like it, or felt like it. Southwark Cathedral was closed, presumably on police advice. The General Election campaign again was dutifully suspended for a few hours, presumably out of respect for the dead, the hospital morgues had unexpected corpses and their wards full of injured sightseers and commuters.
O, we’ll sing our hymns of Pentecost and preach about the power, but the Spirit of prophecy will be quenched. The Spirit of charismatic revelation as the medium of communication between God and man will have His message tailored for our snowflake ears: there will be no inspired utterances which might offend; no talk of the Spirit of might by which Isaiah saw the last things.
And so the Spirit of prophecy which yearns to impart charismatic wisdom is reduced to blurting out the pontifications of man. The divine Spirit that seeks to guide us to the truth is muzzled, making widespread understanding nigh impossible. And what understanding can there be without wisdom? What unconscious congregation can have its mind invaded with sermons of peace, peace, when there is no peace?
But perhaps you believe that the Spirit of prophecy ceased with the canonical prophets, a cessation that will last until the final event in the divine plan. What, then, of Joel’s prophecy quoted in Acts 2:17? Where are these sons and daughters that will prophesy? Where are the visions and dreams?
The prophetic talent which brings revelation, knowledge and wisdom is a social offence and a democratic inconvenience. ‘This is for Allah!’ is not for Allah and is nothing to do with Allah, for Islamists are not Muslims and for all that they know they know nothing about true Islam, which in most part, is a religion of love and peace.
And so the Archdeacon of Berkshire the Ven. Olivia Graham declares Ramadan to be a holy month. (eNews 31 May 2017)
And the Church of England, marking the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in Westminster Abbey, recognised Mohammed as The Prophet of God.
And the Spirit that descended in power at Pentecost as the eschatological gift of the new creation shall lead the Bride of Christ into the wilderness of blindness and idolatry, and shepherd her along the way to terror, death and destruction. Whoever has ears, let them hear.