On September 11, 2010, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, is planning on having a Koran-burning. Called the “International Burn a Koran Day,” this particular church has even put forward ten reasons why the Koran should be burned. As one might expect, condemnation for this scheduled event, and the attitude behind it, is pouring in from all over the world, with Muslims protesting in places ranging from Kabul to Indonesia, and both liberal and conservative Christians challenging the Dove World Outreach Center’s plan.
Personally, I think that Dr. Terry Jones and the members of his church ought to be ashamed. Regardless of whatever real issues they might have with Islam, the burning of the Koran is arrogant and provocative, not to mention utterly tasteless. Furthermore, it mitigates the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, implying that cheap stunts are somehow necessary to demonstrate the contagious superiority of the matchless Savior Jesus.
With that in mind let me offer three reasons why burning the Koran is, in fact, an inappropriate act put forward by small men.
First, the Dove World Outreach Center, and for that matter all of us who claim to follow Christ, should “preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23). It is noteworthy that the Apostle Paul, just before penning those three words, pointed out that certain religious types want to focus their attention on “signs,” that is, on spectacular things designed to demonstrate authority–things not unlike, say, burning Korans. But the Apostle Paul’s counsel is more mature: preach Christ crucified.
Secondly, using Acts 19:19-20 by the Dove World Outreach Center to justify the burning of the Koran was poorly handled. Dr. Jones cites this passage to validate the Koran-burning. However, when read properly, it is not the church leaders that initiate the burning of occult-oriented books in ancient Ephesus; rather, it was the former occult-practitioners who had entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ who were bringing forward and then burning their own books, and this following what was clearly their own public confession and repudiation of their former practices. Point Ten of Dr. Jones’ list of reasons why the Koran should be burned states, “Many of our greatest supporters are ex-Moslems.” But are these former Muslims part of Dr. Jones’ church? Will these former Muslims be tossing their own dog-eared copies of the Koran into the bonfire? Were such the ones actually leading this charge, stepping forward as did the former occult-practitioners in Acts 19, then perhaps this event, unsavory as it still might be, would have more credibility.
Lastly, the burning of the Koran by the Dove World Outreach Center is a provocative act that undermines and perhaps puts at real risk the very lives of Christians living among Muslims all around the world. It truly has no real value other than inciting confusion and rage, makes Christians appear to be small and in need of stunts rather than the Holy Spirit, and jeopardizes the efforts of many who have sought to build meaningful Christian-Muslim relationships through which the Son of God may be displayed.