The War over Freedom of Speech

Painting of John Wycliffe

“With whom, think you, … are ye contending? With an old man on the brink of the grave?”

On November 17, 1382, at a convocation at the University of Oxford, England, John Wycliffe stood before a sea of clergymen of the Church of England and was denounced as a heretic.

Wycliffe was an English theologian who defended the Bible as the first and only, absolute, indefatigable Word of God. For that, he was made the number one enemy of the Roman Catholic papacy.

“They were the heretics,” he said of his accusers. And his words came to them like the last stroke of the gavel, like the final toll of the bell. “With whom, think you, … are ye contending? With an old man on the brink of the grave? No! with Truth—Truth which is stronger than you, and will overcome you.”


Speak Un-Easy

There has been an increasing focus on the power of language in our country.

On January 13, President Donald Trump was impeached for the second time, accused of giving a speech which “[incited] an insurrection against the federal government at the U.S. Capitol” on January 6.

Over the next couple of days, his accounts were banned from his habitual platforms of communication, among them Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

In response, a mass exodus of users flocked to Parler, a lesser-known app that “billed itself as a free-speech paradise” and which was, within hours of its newfound popularity, removed from Apple and Google’s app stores and Amazon’s hosting service.

Perhaps less noticed, though no less important, was the Supreme Court’s January 12 hearing of Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, a case concerning a former college student’s right to have shared the gospel in a designated “speech zone” on Georgia Gwinnett College campus in Lawrenceville, Georgia. At the time of this writing, the case has yet to be decided.

And then there’s the U.S. House of Representatives, which began the year by approving a new set of rules involving the use of gender-neutral terminology. Among the changes implemented was the removal of the words “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister,” and so on from the documented set of rules.

What is shown in these instances is the heavy reliance on words as the driving force behind action. The big question seems to be: Who is responsible for what a person does? And implicit in that, who is responsible for what a person feels?

The spotlight is shining on the person who said it—whatever it was. If the person who said it becomes the responsible party, then what a person says becomes the problem. And if what a person says is the problem, then freedom of speech becomes the target.

As a result, people naturally start to get very careful with what they say.

On January 3, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a United Methodist pastor starting his seventh term as a representative of Missouri, gave the opening prayer during the swearing-in of the 117th Congress. He began his petition seemingly to the God of the Bible, even paraphrasing Numbers 6:24–26, yet gave these closing epithets: “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and God known by many names by many different faiths.”

Do Christians believe in pluralism, that God is the same as Brahma, Allah, Buddha, and all the rest? That is not the God of Scripture. “There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior” (Isaiah 45:21), said the Lord.

As Pastor Doug Batchelor puts it in his Facebook post, referencing Acts 4:12, “They’re bending over backward and doing all of these verbal gymnastics to prevent from saying the name of Jesus, the only name given among men whereby we must be saved.”

Jesus Himself could not state it any clearer: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

But that’s not all. Cleaver’s denouement really summed it up: “Amen,” he closed, “and a-woman.”

Yes, Cleaver genderized a word that has nothing to do with gender. But more so, he altered a word that is attributed to Christ; Christ called Himself “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness” (Revelation 3:14). Strong’s Concordance defines the Hebrew term amen as “truly,” a confirmation of what was said. Thus, Jesus Christ is the Truth.


The Capital “T”

The Bible prophesied that in the final days of this world, people “will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:4). We are seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy. The devil is doing his best to “[exchange] the truth of God for the lie” (Romans 1:25). People in powerful places—in the very legislature of our nation—are being influenced to do this. Did you catch what that means?

If Jesus Christ is the Truth, and truth is being changed, then what people are attempting to change is God. While this may sound terrifying, here’s what matters: Truth is truth. It is what it is. We can’t change it; the most powerful creature on this earth can’t change it.

Wycliffe knew that. As he predicted, although he went to the grave, the Truth that he loved lives on: God loves you, and He is returning very soon to deliver those who love Him.

Do you want to know about the truths that make all the difference? Here’s a powerful message by Pastor Doug that teaches “What Is Truth?

Let’s keep Christ’s promise in mind: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Kris W. Sky
Kris W. Sky is a writer and editor for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.
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