Tag Archives: teaching

My Sun-Sentinel Editorial

I wrote a short article for the Forum section of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel about a month ago. They published it today. You can see it, and the flying fur in the comments section, at the Sun-Sentinel.

Why the flying fur? Whenever I publish an article like this, some who are angry about religion of any type cannot hold back. They have to comment on the article. Then others, who like the article, join the fray and it can get really intense. I suspect that the discussion in the comments section generates more heat than light, but that is usually the case in the comments section.

The article isn’t explicitly Christian, but to anyone who knows the two greatest commandments, it obviously flows from my Christian worldview.


Burn a Koran Day

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has reported that a church in Gainesville, FL is hosting a “Burn a Koran” day on September 11. The church’s senior pastor has published a book entitled Islam is of the Devil, and they have signs with the same title on the front lawn of their church property. The church is well known in Gainesville for its blunt statements and protests against unbiblical behavior.

I’m thinking these folks clearly believe that no publicity is bad publicity. I’m not mentioning the name of the church or its pastor because I do not wish to grant them any more publicity.

Christians who truly believe what the Bible teaches would have to agree that any non-Christian religion isn’t inspired by God. The claims of the Christian Bible, just like the Koran, are exclusive. They cannot both be right. Christians do not believe that Muslims believe the right thing. Muslims do not believe that Christians believe the right thing. One only has to hear a Muslim cleric praying in their normal fashion that Allah neither begets nor is he begotten to realize that Christians, who believe that Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, and Muslims, who believe that Allah had no son, do not believe anywhere near the same thing. For Christians, Jesus is God and is worthy of worship. The Bible is clear about that, and about his exclusive role as the only way into the presence of the Father through his obedience, suffering, death, and resurrection. Islam vigorously disagree with this.

Thus, as Christians we can agree with the basic theological premise of the Gainesville church. Christians and Muslims do not believe the same thing. Christians do not believe the Islam was inspired by God (as Muslims do not believe Christianity was inspired by Allah).

But the Bible is also clear that we need to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Matthew 22:39). We may disagree with our neighbors, but we need to love them. So we need to ask whether holding public burnings of a book our neighbors consider sacred is the best way to love them? There is a difference between incendiary behavior and behavior intended to woo people to the love of Christ. Most of us recognize that holding a “Burn a Koran Day” is incendiary in nature.

Some might object that the Gainesville church is demonstrating love by testifying clearly to the truth. However, there are many ways to testify to truth. The Apostle Paul, who lived in a culture that was far more licentious and polytheistic than ours, wrote, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6 NIV). I don’t believe that holding a “Burn a Koran” day fulfills the apostolic intention in this passage. Nor do I believe that I would want someone to hold a “Burn a Bible” day if I was the member of a minority faith in the country in which I lived. Any student of history knows that Satan has used book burnings to incite violence against minorities since books have been printed. Even today, such burnings are used as tactics of intimidation and oppression. How can we say we are loving our neighbors (or our enemies for that matter, see Matthew 5:43ff) when we are using tools and methods inextricably linked to violence and oppression?

In my closing paragraph I will be almost as blunt as the Gainesville church in its pronouncements: “Burn a Koran” day is not appropriate because it uses tools of intimidation instead of grace and peace. It will shutter Muslim ears to the Christian message as it distorts the message. It is counter-productive and hurtful, and not worthy of our high calling. I respectfully disagree with our brothers and sisters in Gainesville who are pursuing this path. I pray that the Holy Spirit show them a better path.