Danger of Death: Keep Out

Few electricity substations capture my imagination. The one above, in Skipton, certainly does. It was used from 1548-1875 as the local grammar school. This is the place where one John Wesley would have earned his living as a school master had the board of governors seen fit to appoint him, which they did not. Prior to this, however, it was a chapel or church belonging to the Knights Hospitaller. These, like the better-known Templars, were an order of warrior monks whose business in the Middle Ages included fighting the crusades. It was they who controlled Malta until Napoleon removed them.

Now attached to the front door, which cannot be entered saving those from the electricity company, is a warning of danger. Presumably, the contents include various features of electrical equipment, which a careless finger or sitting bottom would cause to short out, with terminal consequences for the body’s owner. Yet that yellow hazard sign might have been as well warranted by the building’s former incarnations. Militant Catholicism with its masses and saint worship deserved a ‘danger of death: keep out' sign. Likewise, the old grammar school with its state Anglicanism would offer barely more gospel truth that the Hospitallers before it. Upon formalism and nominalism rightly belongs the warning: ‘danger of death: keep out’.

"You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:22-24, NKJV