I heard about it yesterday. Terry Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gaineville, GA, intends to observe 9/11 by holding “Burn a Koran Day.”
Objections to the plan were leveled immediately. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, denounced it as “disrespectful and disgraceful.” General David Petraeus said yesterday that this church’s action could incite violence around the world and even endanger the lives of Americans overseas.
Not “could’ but “has done so.” Protests have already erupted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Several things have come to my mind in the last few hours.
First, a few people have the ability to capture the attention of the entire world if their actions are outrageous enough. The Dove World Outreach Center has 50 members.
Second, the potential damaging impact on the work of presenting the gospel to Muslims is huge. My travels have helped me realize how many stereotypes of Christianity have to be overcome in order to share the Biblical Jesus.
One blogger writes….
I am saddened that a church of 50 people will not only destroy the Quran, but also damage the credibility of all the churches out there that go unheard for all the good they do in the name of Christ. Though I should not be, I am astonished that a 50-person church has gained more attention than any 5,000-person church could by living out the gospel everyday. Christ’s blood shed on the Cross iis eternally scandalous news that is overshadowed today by the scandalous news of Qurans burned by 50 people in Gainesville.
If the pastor goes through with the “Koran Burn,” it will only confirm what many Muslims believe — that Christians hate Muslims. That is the opposite of the message of Jesus.
The truth is – Muslims matter to Jesus and they should matter to followers of Jesus.
Third, there will be a backlash in areas of the world where 120,000 American troops are deployed. Another blogger writes…
What might seem like a jolly good idea to Mr Jones may cost the lives or limbs of young people serving their country overseas. If, as many have argued, the problem with the building of the New York Islamic Center is not that the Muslims have no constitutional right to do it (the First Amendment would seem to indicate they do) but that it is irresponsible, then the same argument would seem to apply to this act of book burning. Legal but stupid.
Fourth, the pastor’s actions will have the opposite effect of that which he seeks. Book burning is counter-productive. It only creates interest in the books being burned. When the Catholic church burned Luther’s writings, Luther became a household name and his works became bestsellers. Luther and his followers gained the sympathy of millions. After all, they were victims of injustice.
To burn the Quran will only fuel curiosity about it. And Muslims will be perceived as victims, thereby gaining sympathy throughout the world.
Five, I thought about how our own holy book is disrespected every day in this country. One final blogger writes…
We live in a country where there are Bibles everywhere. They sit on shelves gathering dust. Bibles are misquoted and misapplied. Some preachers use select verses to weave together a false gospel. The Bible is used in university classrooms and studied as mere snatches of literature. The Bible is criticized, demeaned, chopped up in the butcher shop of scholarly arrogance. College students find themselves stunned by professors who have a mission–and make no mistake about it, a real mission–to burn down what they consider the idol of biblical literature made “holy” by religious types who don’t know they are intellectual Neanderthals….
What our self-consciously sophisticated society sometimes does with the Christian Bible is far more dangerous than if someone piled a bunch of Bibles in a yard and set them on fire.
I pray someone will get to the Reverend before the 11th and help him see how un-Christian and counter-productive his actions are. Outrage, anger and grief over 9/11 are right and holy. Creating sympathy for the religion of the attackers is not.
I pray his church members will use 9/11 to pray for Muslims to discover the living Lord Jesus, and to demonstrate the power and love of Jesus in practical, visible ways to Muslims. After all, our enemy is not flesh and blood, but the evil one who blinds, incites and delights in chaos.
I also pray I can accurately, passionately and faithfully teach and live out the message of the book I’ve staked my eternity on.