Remembering the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is something we should do. But there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to do it.
Pastor Terry Jones’s thoughts about Islam are simple and direct. The title of his book says it all: Islam is of the Devil. The same thought is on a sign outside of his church, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, and on the T-shirts and coffee mugs the church sells.
In order to raise greater awareness of the dangers of Islam, Jones has designated 9/11 as “International Burn a Koran Day.” According to their Facebook page Jones hopes, and I quote, “To bring awareness to the dangers of Islam and that the Koran is leading people to hell. Eternal fire is the only destination the Koran can lead people to so we want to put the Koran in its place—the fire!” End quote.
Every Christian believes that no man can come to God but through Jesus Christ. That’s not a bigoted remark, that’s simply the truth claim that underlies Christianity. And I would expect that Muslims would tell me that my religion, Christianity, is a false religion.
The unique thing about the United States is that we are prepared to fight for and defend every single individual’s right to his or her choice to practice the religion of their choice. We learn to respect our differences in a free, pluralistic society.
I have also referred repeatedly on BreakPoint to the dangers of the Islamist movement, which is an ideologically extreme perversion of the Islamic faith. And this is why so many armed conflicts around the world involve Muslims—often fighting other Muslims.
And the attempts to inject parts of Sharia Law in the United States and Britain are a hazard to our constitutional order.
All that being said, I find Jones’s plan to burn the Koran foolish and contemptible. It poses dangers Jones has either overlooked or chooses to ignore.
As Dr. John Rankin, president of the Theological Education Institute correctly notes, if Jones burns the Qur’an, “the images will reverberate on the Internet internationally, and this could lead to unparalleled fury in the Muslim world.”
And most of that fury will be directed into violence against Christians in Muslim areas throughout the world. If Jones goes through with this horrid plan, people—Christian people—will suffer and some will die.
General Petraeus has even expressed fear for our troops in Afghanistan.
Second, Rankin comments, “The Gospel would thus be slandered.” The Apostle Peter tells Christians that we are to be good apologists, but as we give people reasons for our hope in Christ, it has to be “with gentleness and respect.”
Burning the Koran will be taken as the height of disrespect by the Muslim world where copies of the Koran are treated as sacred objects and are handled with the utmost care and reverence. Nothing in the Bible encourages us to treat Muslims or any other religious group with this kind of contempt.
Rankin concludes, “The stakes are high in terms of the reputation of the Gospel and protection of innocent lives in tinderbox sections of the Muslim world.”
My most fervent prayer is that Jones will reconsider and cancel the Koran burning in the name of the Gospel of Peace.
Part of a Christian worldview is the ability to articulate what we believe and why we believe it in the face of competing worldviews like Islam. But we detract from our witness if we allow anything except the Gospel to offend our unsaved neighbors.