Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, FL, has declared 9/11 “Burn a Koran Day.” Publicizing the event has earned Jones multiple death threats, and many have threatened to burn down his church as well. Jones is also the author of “Islam is of the Devil,” and his church has a large sign out front that reads the same. You can read more on the event here. Many Christian groups have tried to convince the church to cancel the event, still scheduled to take place next month.
I want to re-ask the question What would Jesus do? This is a valid question to ask because the goal of every Christian should be to become Christ-like. We are commanded in the New Testament to “put on” Christ. Paul exhorts us to have the same mind as Christ Jesus, so asking what Jesus would do, think or say about any particular situation is never wrong. We cannot always know what Jesus might do in a random situation, but let’s try to get in the mind of Jesus and the spirit of the New Testament Scriptures in regards to this event.
Paul told the Romans that as much as possible to live peacefully with all people. Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is clear that Christians are to go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, and so forth. We are commanded to be long suffering, and certainly not to be the ones who instigate. Christians should attempt to resolve conflicts and even to live with oppression. We are not to retaliate even when wronged. Hosting an event to burn copies of the Koran intentionally escalates violence between Christians and Muslims. But are Muslims not our enemies? In the first place, no they are not. The September 11th terror attack was orchestrated by Osama bin Laden and carried out in the name of Islam. Very few Muslims are terrorists. Let me say that again another way; most Muslims are not terrorists. In the second place, and more to the point here, what does Jesus say about our enemy? Even if Islamic Muslims were the enemy, we as Christians are called to love our enemy, and even to pray for them.
Jesus suffered many injustices, not only without violence but often without saying a word. Consider also if you would the Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritans had different Scriptures than first century Jews, and did not worship in the Jerusalem temple. When the Samaritan woman asked, Jesus told her that the day was coming when true believers would not worship on this mountain or in that temple. He said that God is spirit, and believers must worship in spirit and in truth. Jesus ignored the religious differences between the Jews (like himself) and Samaritans, and instead shared the Gospel. In a general sense all humanity are God’s children. He hates none of them. There are sinners, and there are sinners saved by grace. We have created many more labels than that, and I just don’t think God cares for them. We draw lines that separate and divide, and during his earthly ministry Jesus did not.
Jesus would not burn a Koran. So should we? I hope the answer is obvious. We are taught not to do anything that offends another. To purposefully insult another’s religion, to cause offense, goes against what our scripture teaches. The “Christians” let by Terry Jones have not read their own Bible, or else they choose to ignore the words of Christ, whom they claim to serve. Is a bad Christian any better than a good Muslim? I can’t see how.