Assuming the role of teacher, public commentator or, most specifically, a Christian leader carries with it a high level of responsibility. This reality was made clear to me a few months back when I discovered I had been used as a source by Pastor Terry Jones in his book “Islam is of the Devil.” Pastor Jones, as most remember, is the leader of a cultic group in Florida that was planning to burn Qurans on his church property this past September.
Now, I must confess that the title of my own book, The Islamic Antichrist,” is perhaps nearly as controversial as Pastor Jones’ book title. However, once one gets past the title, the spirit of my work is quite the opposite of what Jones has written. While my writings concerning Islam as an ideology and a religion are highly critical, I’ve always set forth great effort to punctuate my work with strong reminders that Christians are to love Muslims. But this is not always easy. Even when one makes efforts to express oneself in a balanced manner, inevitably some who are predisposed to anger, fear or hatred will find a way to use your words to support their own ungodliness. I’m sure this was partially the basis for James’ warning to irresponsible teachers of what awaits them:
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
– James 3:1
Because I was among the sources Terry Jones used as justification for his plans, I felt partially responsible and compelled to make an effort to deter him from the Quran burning. My vehicle for reaching out to Pastor Jones was an article entitled “Why Christians shouldn’t support Quran burning,” which was featured in WorldNetDaily on Sept. 11, 2010. I began the article speaking Pastor Jones’ language as best I could:
I fully agree with Pastor Terry Jones regarding the title of his book, “Islam is of the Devil.” There’s no question about it. In fact, I would say that if one is a true Christian and genuinely informed regarding Islam, there is no other option. One cannot be a Christian and also believe that Islam is not evil.
While I stand by the theological accuracy of my comments, I will also admit that they were far from balanced. The remainder of the article essentially expressed my belief that when Jesus returns, He will cleanse the earth of all racially motivated hatred and anti-Semitism, and I believe that this will include the Quran. Christians, however, should not take it upon themselves to rid the world of Qurans by burning them. This would be about as effective as those dolts cleaning up the Gulf oil spill with paper towels and sponges (some of which were made from donated human hair!) even as the oil was still bursting forth from the ocean floor. Whether or not my words were at all part of the basis for Pastor Jones’ decision not to go forward, I have no idea. But I do nonetheless wish these few months later to issue a few qualifiers.
My reason for saying, “Islam is of the Devil” is because its teachings stand in direct conflict with my Christian faith and confession. But despite Islam’s many demonic characteristics, perhaps due to the various Jewish and Christian influences in its early formation, as well as the ever drawing power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of mankind, Islam yet contains echoes and even some strong threads of righteousness that would be wrong to deny. While Christians may fundamentally disagree with many elements of Islamic doctrine and practice, we can applaud the Muslim commitment to such things as prayer, modesty and an unwillingness to compromise their own beliefs. If only a wider percentage of my Christian brethren were as committed to these things! Beyond this, despite the fact that many devout Muslims embrace an imperialistic and violent form of Islam, there are many other Muslims whose efforts to the contrary deserve our acknowledgment and respect.
One of these men is Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, chairman of the American Islamic Forum For Democracy. Dr. Jasser has been an ardent supporter of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom. He is an outspoken opponent of the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi funded Salafism here in the U.S. Even the most outspoken critics of Islam must pause to express high praise for Dr. Jasser and his work.
And in a world where support for the nation of Israel is deteriorating on virtually every front, including many churches, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi is a shining light. Palazzi is the leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly and is a co-founder and a co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship. Dubbed by some as the “Zionist sheikh,” Palazzi has worked through the sacred writings of Islam to show that in fact the Quran actually supports the divine right of the Jews to the land of Israel. At a time when even the president of the United States doesn’t seem to have the courage, common sense or character to firmly support the United States’ best friend in the Middle East, Palazzi has stood firm in his convictions, is a true friend to Israel and should be acknowledged for his righteousness in this regard.
There are many other Muslims that also deserve acknowledgment, but my purpose here is not to create an exhaustive compilation of every such man or woman. My simple purpose here was to add some balance and very necessary qualifiers to my previous comments. Of course, as a Christian theologian, I’ll continue to stand as a critic of Islam, but I will also strive to encourage Christians to approach every Muslim as an individual whom God dearly loves. Of course, my highest desire is that all Muslims would become disciples of Jesus the Messiah. But even if they don’t embrace my faith, I am certainly willing to applaud anyone who genuinely promotes peace, the moderation of Islam and especially a love for Israel and the Jewish people.