Thursday, September 9, 2010

On Burning the Quran

What do you think about the pastor in Florida who plans to burn copies of the Quran on 9/11?

What do I think about him? I think he’s a dead man. They’re going to come after him and their going to kill him. This, however, in itself is no reason for the pastor not to do it.

There is nothing inherently wrong in burning a book, even a religious one. While the apostle Paul was in Ephesus, many pagans were converted to the truth and as a demonstration of their conversion, they burned their pagan books.
Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver (Acts 19:18-19).
There is no evidence that they were required by Paul to do this; it seems rather that they did it of their own accord in order to demonstrate the firmness with which they rejected their pagan past. Clearly, the manner in which Luke records it certainly indicates his approval. He mentions the incident as an evidence of the triumph of the gospel.

So there is nothing wrong with book-burning per se. I certainly don’t agree with those who say that burning the Quran is an act of hatred which is inconsistent with a Christian spirit. Book-burning can be a means of making a very powerful statement; and at certain times and in certain contexts it can serve a useful purpose.

However, I think in the present situation, the act is undoubtedly going to cause far more harm than good. If the only negative consequence—the only danger—was the pastor putting his own life at risk, and he thought it was a risk worth taking in order to make his point, then so be it. But it’s not just his own safety he’s putting at risk. He doesn’t understand the Muslim mindset if he thinks so. Muslims around the world will make sweeping generalizations and will attribute his actions to all Christians and to all Americans.

The vast majority of American Christians are going to be safe. Realistically, we’re not threatened by this. They can’t reach us. But what about the Christians who live in Muslim countries? The simple fact of the matter is this, if the pastor follows through with this and burns the Quran, it will enflame Muslim fury against our brothers and sisters living in Muslim countries. They cannot take their vengeance out on us who live far away, but they can and they will take it out on those who live nearby.

Just because the pastor has a Constitutional right to burn the Quran or any other book doesn’t mean he has a moral right to do so. And just because as an abstraction (that is, apart from any consideration of context) there is nothing immoral about burning a book, it doesn’t mean that in this context it isn’t immoral. In this context it is immoral. In this context it is wrong. Not because burning a Quran is inherently sinful, but because it’s an unnecessary provocation that will inevitably lead to an increase of persecution against Christians in Muslim countries.

I don’t think the pastor has much of shepherd’s heart if he leads Christ’s sheep to the slaughter for…what? What real and lasting good is going to come from this?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pastor Doug,

Hi, I wanted to leave you a comment on this particular subject. I don't know if burning the Quran is right or not, but I do feel strongly about all the fuss it has caused. The muslims of the world rotuinely burn bibles and torture christins without any provacation at all. So to be perfectly honest I don't care one whit if the pastor burns the thing or not. I am sick of hearing about how it might "offend" the muslims of the world and cause us trouble. They hate us anyway wheather we burn the quran or not. Until some muslims stand up and tell their leaders to back off the US and Christians I will not believe in their "moderateness". I know that probably is not very christian, but they have been murdering, torturing, and bullying other religions for centuries. I do belive it is about time someone stood up to them and let thme know this is the 21st century not the first century. They kill their own daughters for going out with a so called heathen unbeliever. Now thats what I call nice. I am also totally unhappy with our president's stance on this issue and the mosque in NY City. He is quick to point out that we don't have problems with Hindu's, Jew's, Christians, or Buddhist's. The only problems with that argument is not one of those religions has attacked this country. But, on September 11, 2001 Muslim's attacked this country and murdered over 3000 innocent civilians without any thought at all. And then every muslim country in the world stood up and cheered for those who did the killing. Thats what I call real moderation. I just don't care what they think and I sure as hell don't trust them even one inch. If they want the rest of the world to treat them with respect they need to start treating the rest of the world the same way. I don't see any respect for any other religion from them, so I don't have any for theirs. I know this is a real hard stance, but they have brought it on themselves.

Tim Wehling
ps, I do have a gmail account, but I very raley use it. So rarely that I can't remember the user name or password. If you want to get in touch with me use my Yahoo account. It is:t1w34ling@yahoo.com