Burning Books


It has been quite the media firestorm this week concerning Rev. Terry Jones’, “International Burn a Quran Day” that was (or maybe still is) scheduled for September 11, 2010.  It is amazing how sensitized the media and the government are to the subject of Islam that this pastor of a 50 member church in Gainesville, Florida was propelled to the center of an international news, public relations and propaganda frenzy.  Had the story been ignored no one outside of Gainesville, Florida would have known and many people  even in Gainesville would not have know the event had taken place.  Such is the power of the media and the Internet.  We love to take the radical and obscure and place it on center stage and make it larger than it actually is.

The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the President of the United States and even Angelina Jolie have urged Rev. Jones not to burn the books.

At least two dozen Christian churches, Jewish temples and Muslim organizations in the city had mobilized to plan inclusive events, including Quran readings at services, as a counterpoint to Jones’ protest.

On Saturday (9/4/2010), thousands of Indonesian Muslims rallied outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and in five other cities to protest the Rev. Jones’ plans. On Monday (9/6/2010), several hundred Afghans rallied outside a Kabul mosque, burning American flags and an effigy of Rev. Jones while chanting “Death to America.”

The position of the U.S. government is clear.  They do not want to purposefully antagonize Muslims and provoke them to commit violent acts against Americans around the world.  We have thousands of service men and women stationed in Islamic countries who would feel the brunt of any violent reaction.  President Obama has America trying to build a bridge of friendship and understanding to the Islamic world.

Biblical Christianity wants to build a different type of bridge to the Islamic world; we want to build a bridge of salvation and deliverance.  Those of us who believe in Jesus are compelled to share our faith with anyone who does not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We believe that anyone who does not worship Jesus Christ and Lord and Savior is lost and will spend eternity separated from God in the Lake of Fire.  There it is.   These are the words that always cause problems and they always will.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

This is where the ecumenical or nominal “Christian”, the secular humanist, the atheist, the agnostic, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Universalist and many others differ from the biblical Christian.  This is the awesome gift of free will given to us by God.  We are not mindless slaves of an overbearing divine dictator.  We are free to live and worship as we choose to.  We have all been invited by God to accept the free gift of His salvation through faith in His Son; the Lord Jesus Christ.  As Christians, we urge men and women to accept God’s free gift.

Should we burn the books of other religions in an act of protest?

You can find Old Testament examples where things like this happened.

  • Gideon destroyed the altar of Baal and cut down the grove of Ashtoreth (Judges 6:25-32)
    • The worshippers of Baal and Ashtoreth wanted to kill Gideon for this act.

“But Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” From then on Gideon was called Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he broke down Baal’s altar. (Judges 6:31-32)

I cannot find New Testament examples of Christians destroying temples, sacred texts, etc. of those who worshipped other gods.  You can, however, find numerous examples of Christians preaching in an effort to convert unbelievers and followers of other religions to faith to the Lord Jesus Christ.  They were extremely successful and Christianity expanded rapidly throughout the ancient world.

There is one example of converted believers burning their own books in the New Testament:

Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect. (Acts 19:18-20)

There was a reaction of the unconverted to the conversion of these men and women from the worship of false gods in New Testament times much like there is in modern times when anything is said contrary concerning Islam.

At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater.

Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28-34)

We shouldn’t be burning people’s books for them.  If converted Muslims want to burn their old Quran’s now that they have come to faith in Christ they should be allowed to do so as a statement of victory and deliverance.  Destroying literature or anything else is not the key to fulfilling the Great Commission; nor will it diminish Islam in any way.

Christians should be declaring the truth of the gospel and living the truth of the gospel while engaged in fulfilling the Great Commission.  The greatest weapon against the Quran is not a match or lighter.  The greatest weapon against the Quran is the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in the life of a believer who loves God and loves the people Christ died to save.

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

Here is a list of 49 countries where 50% or more of the citizens follow Islam and worship Allah:

Chad Iran Tunisia
Zambia Azerbaijan Comoros
Iraq Morocco Niger
Qatar Turkey Saudi Arabia
Pakistan Uzbekistan Senegal
Egypt Kosovo Tajikistan
Libya Indonesia Bahrain
Mali Oman Albania
Syria Kyrgyzstan Palestinian territories
Bangladesh Guinea United Arab Emirates
Mauritania Nigeria Maldives
Kuwait Kazakhstan Burkina Faso
Nigeria Sudan Sierra Leone
Brunei Yemen Western Sahara
Malaysia Jordan Turkmenistan
Somalia Djibouti Afghanistan
Lebanon

A little more than 1 out of 5 humans on the planet are associated with Islam.  More than 1 billion people worshipping a different god, believing things about Jesus Christ that are contrary to the Bible.  If we have anything to be provoked concerning it should be that we are tasked with taking the gospel to these people.

We may abhor the acts of 9/11 and share anger and grief with the families who lost loved ones in the attacks but we cannot write a billion people off as unlovable and irredeemable.  Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead so that Muslims could be born again too.

If there is a fire needed it is not to set a book on fire; I would say it is needed to set our hearts on fire.

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