Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville has garnered sensational headlines again. This is the Florida pastor who threatened to burn the Koran on 9/11 last year.
Recently, he carried out his threat.
He videotaped the deliberate burning of a book that is sacred to millions of Muslims.
And now there’s rioting in the streets of Afghanistan.
Protesting Muslims have even beheaded some innocent Westerners, reportedly to protest this Koran-burning.
Terry Jones is the pastor of the fifty-member Dove World Outreach Center. Sadly, there’s been a worldwide impact from his misguided move.
Understandably, Jones is upset at the Koran because of all the violence that book has ostensibly unleashed, from 9/11 to routine car bombs in Baghdad to the Fort Hood massacre.
From a Christian perspective, I believe the pastor is totally misguided in burning the Koran. This minister sees the evil done in the name of Islam, and he wants to make a point.
The problem is that the point he is making has a price tag. General David Petraeus decries this move because innocent Westerners are being killed by protesting Afghans. Soon American troops can even be at risk over this.
A few years ago, there were people killed over the false report that a Koran was flushed down a toilet at Gitmo. There were even people killed by rioting Muslims who were angry over Danish cartoons.
Remember how Christians were upset in 1988 at Martin Scorsese’s blasphemous movie, The Last Temptation of Christ? Remember all the violence that occurred when the film was released? There was none, to my knowledge. Remember all the theatres destroyed by protesting Christians? The only theatre destruction I read about took place in France at the hands of a Muslim who was upset because of the mistreatment of Jesus, who is taught in Islam to be a prophet.
Meanwhile, would Pastor Jones burn a book that says:
- Jesus is the Christ?
- Jesus is the Word of God?
- Jesus is born of a virgin?
- Jesus will return one day and judge the world?
The answer is that he did burn just such a book because the Koran says all of these things. It also says, of course, that God has no Son and many other things that directly contradict the Christian message. But that doesn’t mean it should be torched. All that does is close the door further to Muslims potentially interested in the message of Jesus.
Regardless of the message of the Koran, the pastor is ill-advised to burn it. Since Jesus is the one who originated the Golden Rule, and since the pastor would not want a Muslim to burn the Bible, then I don’t think he should burn anyone’s holy book either.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I agree with the Koran. The Koran commands Muslims to strike terror in the heart of the unbeliever. That is what 9/11 was all about—striking terror in the heart of the Great Satan, America.
The Afghanis protesting the Koran burning are responsible for the murders they’ve committed, including the beheadings. They are also responsible for the hundreds of Bibles they have burned in retaliation for Jones’ act. Certainly, the pastor helped spark much of this recent violence.
At least you could say that he hasn’t mastered Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Next, he wants to put Mohammed on trial.
To me what the pastor is doing is counter-productive—especially from a missionary point of view. It puts up needless barriers to Muslims who may want to know more about Christ.
Meanwhile, I read recently that only 18% of Muslims around the world have a positive view of America. These kinds of ploys just make that number even smaller.
I suppose the pastor has the right to do so—free “speech” in America even includes burning the flag. But it’s so counter-productive and contrary to the spirit of Christ for him to do it. It will just make the crazies hate us even more (if that were possible).
I don’t think there’s a thing we can do to get the radical Muslims to love us or even to like us, short of converting to Islam. That’s not an option.
But publicity stunts like the pastor’s burning of the Koran don’t help anything. Sadly, they just play into the stereotypes of people like Rosie O’Donnell, who said famously (and foolishly) that radical Christianity is just as dangerous in this country as radical Islam.
Yet even the pastor, for all his misguided efforts isn’t directly assaulting anybody.
I just want to know one thing: Aren’t his fifteen minutes of fame up yet?
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the senior producer and host of The Coral Ridge Hour, a weekly television program featuring the late Dr. D. James Kennedy. Newcombe has written or co-written 21 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation. Jerry co-wrote (with Dr. Peter Lillback) the bestselling, George Washington's Sacred Fire.
Publication date: April 11, 2011