The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville Florida is planning a public burning of the Koran this September 11th to commemorate the anniversary of the Muslim terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York City. The event is called the “International Burn a Koran Day.” There is even a Facebook page with over 8,500 who “like” the page. General David Petraeus has made a plea to stop this public torching of the Koran saying, “It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan.”
Petraeus continues, “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community,” the general said in an emailed statement. “I am very concerned by the potential repercussions of the possible Koran burning,” Petraeus added.
Personally, this causes a great amount of concern for me. I want to take the words of our US president, re-apply and paraphrase them here to the church in Gainesville and to the thousands of other people who may also think about participating in the torching of someone else’s holy book. “I don’t question your right to do this, but I do question the wisdom of it.”
The Gainesville Church has also posted on their website 10 Reasons to Burn a Koran. The post is dotted with facts of the Koran as it relates to the Holy Bible and to social justice. I do not contest the facts as they are stated. But do these things mean a Koran should be burned? As a struggling apprentice to Jesus Christ, I just don’t know if I, or anyone else would do honor to Christ by degrading someone else’s religion in such a way. Therefore I submit to you ten reasons why we should not burn a Koran. These are not in any particular order of importance, just as they came to me.
10 REASONS NOT TO BURN A KORAN
- Dishonoring other religions is not something we are taught to do in the Bible. Put yourself in the place of a Muslim. I can’t imagine any other message that would come any clearer than their treasured faith is coming under attack and being dishonored by Christians and Christianity. What if another group came out with an “International Burn a Holy Bible Day?” We would be outraged, and rightly so. But what does the Bible say about dishonoring another person’s faith, even a faith that is at odds with ours? The Apostle Paul is a good reference for this in both action and teaching. When Paul was in Athens, according to Acts 17: 16-34, he didn’t burn their idols or their holy scriptures. He didn’t mock their beliefs. Instead, the Bible says he “reasoned” with them. He spoke to all who would listen to him about Christ and the good news of the Kingdom of God. Paul even used the knowledge he had of their beliefs to connect to his presentation of the gospel! He build on their beliefs, not burning them. Certainly some of those there “sneered” at Paul and his message, but there is never an indication that he used this occasion to dishonor or denigrate their religion. But, what about Paul’s teachings? How did he say we were to behave? Paul’s teachings and practices were to to identify with those he was trying to reach for Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). He said he would behave as one under the Law (that is as one who practices the Jewish religion) to reach those under the Law. He also said he would behave as one who did not have the Law (someone who did not practice the Jewish religion), though not in violation to what Christ would say, in order to reach that person who didn’t follow the Law. He even became weak to reach the weak. He did all he could do, without violating the teachings of Christ, to reach others with the gospel of Christ. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see the burning of a Koran as part of Paul’s strategy. I’ll expand on this with Jesus’ teaching in #7.
- It is not the way of love, but of hostility. The Holy Bible states that “love is patient, love is kind. It is not rude…it is not self-seeking. It always perseveres…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, 7a). While the motives of many who will burn a Koran may be, at least in their eyes an act of love, it will not be viewed as an act of love by anyone else. It will not be viewed as kind, but rude; the very opposite of love. It will be viewed by many as self-seeking. Some will equate this as a stunt to gain publicity. Burning the Koran like this is hard to picture as love. Love is self-sacrificing, not sacrificing something valuable to someone else.
- It will harm the future witness of Christians. the public publicized burning of a world religion’s sacred scriptures will not endear those participants to individual Christians. Recently, our family lived between two Muslim families in our neighborhood. One was from Saudi Arabia and the other from Egypt. We worked to build good relationships with them and their families. I even visited their mosque. My wife and I attended a Muslim class to show good will. They knew where I and my family stood in the Christian faith. I was able, as a result of building a relationship with my neighbors, to share Christ with one of the leaders of the Mosque over lunch. Try to imagine how they will feel toward other Christians as a result of burning their holy book. Would you listen to a person who burned your Bible?
- It will put us on the same level as those who oppose us. We become religious terrorists when we try to destroy Islam with violence to their holy book. There are other ways for the truth to get out. It’s been said we can treat the truth as a surgeon’s scalpel or as a killing sword. We can save a life or destroy it. It all depends on how we handle the truth. We are to speak the truth, but speak it in love (Ephesians 4:15).
- It portrays Christianity as intolerant. There is much confusion today about tolerance. You would think to be tolerant would mean that everyone is right and to oppose anyone else’s views or beliefs would be intolerant. But that is not tolerance. Tolerance means to be fair, patient, and objective to other points of view. It does not mean we accept what is not true, but that we handle our differences in a fair and objective way. We “reason” with them as the Apostle Paul did. To be intolerant is to shut someone off; to refuse to listen or engage with them. It can even mean that we reject the person because we reject their views. That is how Christianity will be portrayed by the very ones who need our love and who need to see how much the Father loves. Only where genuine Christianity flourishes will we see tolerance to other religions. The world, and Muslims in particular, needs to see that. Not their book left in ashes.
- The Koran should be read. You should read it to know what is really in it. I didn’t do this until just a few years ago. I had heard all about what the Koran taught. But I didn’t know it for myself. So I went and bought an English translation and sat down with a highlighter and read it. It was not as mysterious as I had imagined. Some of the things I had been told the Koran taught were not in there. Some were, and I learned about a lot of other things as well. It helped me when I shared with my Muslim neighbors. Why would they want to read my Scriptures when I won’t read theirs? Reading the Koran gave me a much greater appreciation for the Bible. There truely is no comparison. Read it prayerfully. Take notes and write down your thoughts for each surah (section).
- This is not how Jesus told us to treat our enemies. Are they our enemies? Probably not, but they are not our friends either. They are captives of our enemy, the devil. They need to be set free. However you view them, Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5: 43-48). By doing this, we will prove ourselves to be the children of our heavenly Father.
- It puts Americans overseas in greater harm. In the Islamic worldview there is not the separation between religion and government as in the USA. Their government flows out of the Muslim religion. Therefore, whether you like it or not, whether it is true or not, I would say most in the Muslim world view the USA as a Christian government. They see the values that come from our country as “Christian” values. “Ouch!” When the burning of the Koran is done here, that puts citizens of our country in greater danger of retaliation. They will connect Americans overseas with that burning and must retaliate.
- It puts Christian missionaries at a greater risk. Being a Christian missionary in a predominantly Muslim country is dangerous at best, when their citizenship is also in a country that burns the Koran, then they are at double risk. Everything is harder. Buying food, sharing Christ, making friends, getting permits. You name it, everything is harder. Why? So some unthoughtful people could exercise their right to burn a Koran. Seems very counter productive to me.
- It puts our military at a greater disadvantage. I think enough has been said on this. If you need to, see the link on David Petraeus at the beginning of this blog.
There you have it, my 10 reasons for not burning a Koran. I just don’t think we need to have any more people who call themselves Christians making it harder for the rest of us to share our faith. We have enough obstacles without our own team making it harder. What do you think?
For more information on Islam see 4Truth.net.
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