Friday, September 10, 2010

On Qu'ran Burnings

Because of what the Bible teaches, I do not think the pastor in Florida, who appears to be vacillating on whether to burn Qu'rans or not, should do so. Why?

Well, it is not because I believe that the Qu'ran is a holy book. To be as direct as possible, in its denunciations of Christ as the Son of God and crucified Redeemer; its upholding of a polygamous charlatan as the prophet of God; and its teaching that men are justified by works (i.e. keeping the Five Pillars of Islam), I believe the Qu'ran is a book that contains Satanic lies and is leading millions to the eternal doom of the burning flames of hell. Yet I still do not think he should burn them or Christians should participate in this type of demonstration. Again, why?

First, it is not consistent with the Scriptures on book burning. The Biblical proof-text Pastor Jones might offer for holding book burnings would come from Acts 19:19, where we are told this about the people of Ephesus who had responded to the gospel:
"And many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver."
Note that this book burning was done by people who had been under the influence of witchcraft and then, when converted to Christianity, burned their own books as a demonstration of their repentance. Paul did not burn copies, but preached the gospel by the power of the Spirit in such a way that they voluntarily offered this sacrifice to the Lord. The proper application of this passage would be to pray and live in such a way that Muslim communities and nations would be so powerfully converted to the freedom of Christ they would voluntarily throw off this yoke of blindness they are under and recognize it for the deception it is.

Second, it does not follow the example of Moses, Gideon or Elijah. There are "showdown times" when God calls His people to expose the false gods of the day. The Lord used Moses to expose the falsity of the Egyptian deities through the plagues. Gideon tore down his father's idols. Elijah taunted the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel to call their god to light the altar with fire from heaven, then showed God's power to consume not only the sacrifice but the altar itself. The missionary Boniface in the eighth century did something similar, as he chopped down the oak of Thor and made a chapel out of it for the numerous converts from the Germanic tribes. Perhaps Pastor Jones thinks he is standing in the line of these men. However, I do not think so for one important reason.

Each of these men had given their lives in service to minister to the people they were seeking to deliver. How has Mr. Jones actually ministered to the Muslims? How has the pastor of the "Dove World Outreach Center" actually reached out with dove-like love to Islamic people? Rather than a "showdown time," this has more the appearance of "showtime." I find myself agreeing with the president on this one, who referred to it as a "stunt."

Thirdly and finally, it does not have the aroma of Christ in it. To the same church at Ephesus who did the book burning, Paul said, "Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, and offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma" (Ephesians 5:2). This planned event does not have Christ's love. I know those who have given years of their lives in humble sacrifice to minister to Muslims who, I am sure, would say this act will do nothing but offend and raise barriers. Muslims will see this as an act of Christian hatred, not love. As it is stirring up frenzy and hostility worldwide, it also does not have His wisdom. Jesus carefully avoided inciting crowds in His ministry, knowing that crowd frenzy does not spread the kingdom of God. And as the media circus proves, it does not have the sobriety of Christ needed in true gospel ministry. Whenever Jesus was speaking to an individual or multitudes, the seriousness of what was at stake always was preserved. Though He spoke directly against it, He did not burn the Talmud that was misleading the Jews. He knew He was dealing with the souls of people destined for an eternal existence, so He went after their hearts.

As it looks like all of us will be having to engage the Muslim world more and more, why not learn how to do so? For starters, read how one Muslim in Hamas was converted by the fundamental difference he saw between Islam and Christianity - the love of Jesus for His enemies - in the book Son of Hamas. Then order a copy of my friend's book, Pastor Aaron Goerner's Is the Qu'ran the Word of God?, as he as an American has made the effort to engage hundreds of Muslims worldwide in serious, confrontational, but loving dialogue to show them the truth.

17 comments:

Pastor Brad Johnston said...

Hurrah, Barry! Direct and clear thinking about this media-created situation. We'll have many more of these to digest, and I think you are right on.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Barry, o doubt much study and teaching should be done on matters such as these. How Christians respond when a holy war has been declared against them is still unclear. It by now must be certain that simply ignoring the Muslim attackers will do nothing but place our offspring in hqarms way.
Jon Held

rylian said...

Pastor Barry,

I really like your article. But one thing sticks out in my mind. I have a question about the part where you said that Moses, Gideon, and Elijah had "given their lives in service to minister to the people they were seeking to deliver." But is this true?

Was Moses trying to deliver the Egyptians? Was Elijah trying to deliver the Canaanites? No, they were ministering to deliever Israel.

What if, just what if, Terry Jones' plan was aimed at delivering Christians from acquiesence to Islam or a lack of opposition to the threat it poses? What if it was more internally than externally aimed?

This is just food for thought. Please don't take this as an endorsement of Terry Jones or his canceled scheme.

Barry York said...

Thank you for the above comments.

I appreciate your question, Rylian, and the spirit in which it was asked, as what I said can be confusing (indeed, this whole issue is). Part of the confusion comes from me not narrowing my analogy sufficiently. Let me try to make more clear and simple what I was attempting to say with the sentence under question.

I was not using these Old Testament examples for the purpose of saying they were ministering to their enemies. Clearly, as you say, these Old Testament figures were used by the Lord to deliver primarily the Jews, not the Egyptians, Midianites, etc. Though of course we do have signs of salvation going beyond Israel to her enemies in some of these “showdowns” (i.e. Egyptians who left in the Exodus, Rahab’s family at Jericho), that was not my point.

No, I was using these illustrations to show these men were ministering to the people of God in the midst of their enemies, and as such were witnessing of God to their foes in close proximity. For instance, the Lord did not send the plagues on Egypt while Moses remained safely in Midian. He was called to go to Egypt and stood with his people. I was trying to say that a lone pastor living in Florida seeking media attention (he had large signs announcing what he was doing) by burning Qu’rans appears to have less than true concern for the souls of people far away across the ocean, be they Christians serving there needing courage or Muslims needing the gospel. His words and actions do not have the moral weight created by the merciful sacrifice that a missionary living in the midst of Muslims has. It appears he is hindering and not helping mission efforts, as for instance Muslim attacks in Christians in Indonesia have increased because of this issue. He does not seem to be following the incarnation example of Christ, who left heaven and came to earth to witness.

Regarding your thoughts that his purpose may have been to deliver Christians from acquiescence to the threat of Islam, I can readily grant that is part of his stated purpose and the sovereign Lord may use it that way in some people. However, as I stated in the blog, because he is applying Scriptural precedents and principles in caricature rather than with godly character, my fear is that he is distracting the church from the real seriousness these issues require. Indeed, if public statements by those knowledgeable of his thirty year European ministry can be believed, his track record does not bode well for considering him a true gospel minister nor one who, until recently, became interested in Muslims.

Thanks again, and hope this is helpful.

Sreedhar Jeshurun said...

Hi Greetings!

I came across your blog while “blog surfing” using the Next Blog button located at the top of my blogspot.com I frequently just visit around looking for other blogs which exist worldwide and the various, creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing.

Encouraged to see your wonderful article on The Quran burning issue and a chrisitian would deal with it you gave biblical conclusion and indeed it is not advised as it spreads hatred than the love of Christ.Jesus and Paul never burned these things people burned it voluntarily.Also encouraged to see the Son of Hamas book a story of a Muslim convert !


Kingdom Blessings!

Barry York said...

Sreedhar,

Thank you for your gracious comments.

If interested, you can now follow my blog with others at www.gentlereformation.com.

Bary York

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