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Burning Someone’s Holy Book

September 9, 2010

To begin speaking to one of the “burning” issues of the day, namely, the planned burning of the Koran by a Florida church this weekend, I found Pastor Wade Burleson’s blog (Grace and Truth to You) remarks to be spot-on:

The U.S. military has confirmed that Bibles of United States soldiers serving in Afghanistan were confiscated and destroyed by order of the U.S. State Department because Muslims were offended that the soldiers were filmed reading the Bibles on Arabic Al Jazeera television.  CNN reported that that the Bibles were “burned” in order to satisfy the demands of Muslim authorities who were deeply offended that copies of the official sacred book of Christianity, printed in the local language of the Afghans and read by U.S. soldiers fluent in Pashto, were allowed into the country. The burning of the Bibles in Afghansitan was approved by the U.S. government, lauded by the Afghan Muslims and seemed to satiate the anger of those Muslims deeply offended at Bible reading on Arab network television.

Now General David H. Petraeus, U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, has denounced plans by a Florida church to burn copies of the Koran this weekend. The White House has also condemned the Florida church’s plan, with press secretary Robert Gibbs reiterating Petraeus’s contention that the act would be “offensive” to Muslims.  State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called the proposed demonstration “un-American” and said it was “inconsistent with the values of religious tolerance and religious freedom.” Muslim, Christian, and other religious leaders are putting pressure on Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida not to follow through with his declaration that he will burn the Korans this Saturday, September 11.

I  happen to agree that the church’s plan to burn the Korans is unwise, and it is obvious that there is outrage in the Muslim world and in our government over the pastor’s plan, but my question is a simple and sincere one:  Why was there not a similar outrage among Muslims, the American military and the American government over the burning of Bibles in Afghanistan?

The hypocrisy of the U.S. State Department and the Executive Branch of our federal government is plain to see and frankly, no surprise at all.  But that’s not where I want to end.  To the thoughts above from Pastor Burleson, I would add the following:

1) Burning another’s holy book(s) certainly is going to draw them to the Savior.

2) Burning another’s holy book(s) isn’t a fulfillment of the commands of Jesus to love others as we love ourselves and to do to others as we would have them do to us.

3) Subjectively, I don’t see how burning another’s holy book(s) is going to create a heart of love within the burner for the lost in another religion.

4) The one “book burning” I can find in the NT is in Acts 19.  There the former adherents to magic (demonic?) arts brought their own books “together and burned them in the sight of all” (Acts 19:19).  Notice the Christians who had never been involved in these practices are not said to lead the way to the fire; it is the former practitioners themselves who did so.  Might they by this have been signifying their radical break from their former ways?  Whatever their motivation, God blessed it for verse 20 next reads “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”  Thus, I think it is a vastly different thing for ex-practitioners of a non-Christian religion to rid themselves of those items which had kept them in bondage until Jesus became their Savior and Lord versus those who have never been in such a religion to do the same.  The latter group risks alienating the very people they profess to want to reach with the Gospel by failing to show that the Gospel overcomes peoples’ resistance to Christ not through the sword or flame (violence in general), but through the love of God which fills and changes every believer upon Jesus.


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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 9, 2010 11:26 AM

    Perhaps they should burn pornography instead.

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