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The planned burning of Qurans by a pastor of a tiny church in Florida has sparked international media attention while repeated acts of tyranny, murder and oppression against Christians in Muslim-dominated countries go essentially ignored.
What’s with that?
Are we to declare that major U.S., European and Middle Eastern news sources have a double standard? Is any rational person shocked at such a revelation?
Of course not.
The issue is indeed two-edged and again illustrates the distinction between our acts as We the People through our government and We the People as individuals – especially Christians. The Texas Pastor Council issued a statement about the Quran-burning plans, and before I get to that statement I’ll make one bold assertion.
Public book burnings are associated with tyranny, oppression and silencing of free expression of ideas, values and faith. Those acts are neither Christian nor American. As the children of freedom and its carriers, we should rise above the double standard, the oppressive acts and fundamental evil of our enemies to truly be the “shining city on a hill.” We cannot defeat evil by imitating their acts.
Accordingly, the Texas pastors presented the following response:
While it is the business of pastors specifically and Christians in general to know and share the absolute truth of God’s word, regardless of whether it is unpopular or even dangerous, we believe the plan to burn Qurans by Dove World Outreach Center is in fact counter-biblical. The commands of our Lord in how we respond to those who persecute us as individuals and as a church, separated from the duties of the governing authorities, are quite clear. Jesus Christ said, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” (Matt. 5:44). It has become necessary for our country to send our military to fight against and defeat Islamic terrorism; however, we do not serve the interests of our Lord or the interests of our country by engaging in such aggressive provocation.
There is no doubt of the threat that radical Islam presents to the entire world, including those in Islamic states, the danger of Islamic terrorism on our own soil, and ultimately the oppression that principles of Islam and Shariah law imposes, particularly on women. Moreover, Christians are under obligation if true believers in our Holy Scriptures to expose false religions or teachings that are contrary to God’s Word.
With that stated, the reality that the Bible is banned and burned in most if not all Islamic states and that Christians in Islamic states suffer discrimination and persecution on an ongoing basis does not justify violation of our own principles also given by our Lord such as what we call the Golden Rule. While believing the Quran to be false, if we want our Bible treated with respect even in Muslim countries, we can and must do the same here. Christianity has transformed nations for 2,000 years by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ; living and being willing to die for our faith and illustrating God’s love to us – His enemies. Pastor Jones’ use of Acts 19 to justify this burning is fundamentally flawed and misapplied.
We are not pacifists and believe there is a biblical and appropriate use of military force by legitimate government in defending ourselves against violence of aggressors, whether foreign governments or terrorist networks such as Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaida, etc. We clearly know, however, that we will “win” this war by boldly but humbly winning hearts to Jesus Christ rather than inflammatory public events.
We urge Pastor Terry Jones to correct course and turn this situation into a positive display of God’s grace by canceling the event and thereby proving his commitment to be part of the greater church in this country as well as a responsible citizen.
Whether he does or does not, Islamo-fascism and its evil must be defeated and ultimately will be. The immediate threat of violence must continue to be met with legitimate, well-executed and overwhelming military response as well as diligent foreign and domestic intelligence. The limited warfare, nation building, appeasement and social experimentation in our military of the current and past administrations have not served that purpose well.
However, we will defeat this and other evils (including rampant moral anarchy) most effectively as has been done for 2,000 years, by overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21), by loving our enemies and, in general, living the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5,6) as articulated by German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935:
I think I am right in saying that I would only achieve true inner clarity and honesty by really starting to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously. Here alone lies the force that can blow all of this idiocy sky-high – like fireworks, leaving only a few burnt shells behind. (“Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,” Eric Metaxas)
Bonhoeffer came to the conclusion that even while we follow that dictate personally, taking action to stop the evil was worth his life – a price he paid. Are we willing to do both?