” Give an answer …with gentleness and respect.”

Speakers Corner #3 Speakers Corner #1

Speaker’s Corner occupies the northeast corner of Hyde Park in the heart of London. It’s famous turf.

I’ve been there numerous times, but never on a humid Sunday summer afternoon with such a crushing crowd. As always there were knots of vigorous conversation and heated debate going on throughout the area. But what was so riveting and jaw dropping for me were the soap-box orators, some bellowing at the top of their voices messages of apocalyptic fire and brimstone.

Speakers Corner #2 Speakers Corner #4

I can’t begin to understand how anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus would not cringe at the vitriol that was being spewed out on that crowd by fiery preachers who I’m sure felt they were God’s agents in the mold of the Old Testament prophets. It was embarrassing. What I saw and heard was far from the Petrine admonition to “be ready to give an answer …with gentleness and respect.” (I Peter 3:15). Far from it.

I suspect in God’s providence, some of the truth that was spoken may have fallen on receptive ears. But I’m not sure it was worth the many more who were repulsed and disgusted by the ugly caricature of Christianity that was on such unfortunate display.

3 Responses to “” Give an answer …with gentleness and respect.””

  1. Mark H Says:

    I’ve never been to Hyde Park. But I’ve encountered this very thing elsewhere in the UK. I weep.

  2. Jo Says:

    I came across your blog and have read and as a Londoner myself feel that a great deal of your Criticisms and impression of the church of England/ the church in the UK have not been my experience at all. There are a number of relevant and vibrant churches in London where Jesus is alive and the Holy Spirit is at work. Of course there are millions that don’t know God but this is far from a hopeless situation. I believe in a God that is and will continue to touch and change lives in London.

  3. therese tierney Says:

    Dear Sam,
    I think your photograph of Speaker’s corner beautifully captures the spirit of public space. I am writing to kindly request permission to reproduce the image in an academic publication. Please let me know if this will be okay with you.
    Best wishes,
    Therese tierney

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