Just as the nation was crowning techno-pianist Tokio Myers the winner of Britain’s Got Talent, a few more Islamists decided to stage their own version of the show on London Bridge – Allah’s Got Talent. Tokio Myers’ talent makes time stand still in a mesmerising cacophony that lifts the soul; the Islamists’ talent ends time in a bloody confusion that terrorises the earth. Is it seven dead this time? About 50 injured? Dozens mowed down like bowling pins as a van is driven at speed over another bridge? People stabbed, throats sliced, screaming, running…
We call them terrorists; they call themselves Muslims. They seem to possess identical talents. One eyewitness 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. To slaughter the kuffar and mushrikin is most beneficient indeed.
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 said 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’, ‘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‘ (Eph 6:12).
Today the Church celebrates 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 Jesus from the dead dwells in believers today (Rom 8:11), but it doesn’t seem like it, or feel like it. Southwark Cathedral is closed, presumably on police advice. The General Election campaign is dutifully suspended again, presumably out of respect for the dead. 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 eschaton. What, then, of Joel’s prophecy (3:1), quoted in the second chapter of Acts? Where are these sons and daughters that will prophesy? Where are the visions and dreams?
In truth, we don’t really care. Our preferred revelation now comes from Britain’s Got Talent, which is balm for the soul. 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 is a religion of love and peace.
And so the Archdeacon of Berkshire shall declare Ramadan to be a holy month.
And Westminster Abbey shall recognise 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.