Burning the Koran, or How Not to Fulfill the Great Comission

Never mind the fact that it is just an insignificant pastor of an insignificant congregation in Florida.

Never mind that similar events would be a lot more common in the Arab world if the Bible were actually allowed in the Arab world.

And never mind that the whole thing is being blown out of proportion by a media desperate to find some sort of moral equivalency between Christians and the Imam who wants to build a mosque at (or very near to) Ground Zero.

Even considering all these factors, Pastor Terry Jones’ plan to burn several copies of the Koran on September 11th is abysmal. Other than cheap publicity, what exactly does he hope to accomplish by this stunt?

Ever since hearing of this story I have been scratching my head as to what this guy could possibly be thinking of as a biblical mandate for his planned “bonfire of the koran-ities”. The only thing that comes to mind is Acts 19:17-20.

This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. (NKJV)

A couple observations:

1. The “sacred scrolls” they were burning were their own. By this I mean, the burning was a public testimony to the fact that they personally had come to Christ. It was not supposed to be a slap in the face to the community around them.

2. The scroll-burning was a demonstration of the power of God. The men who burned them had previously been involved in sorcery. By burning the scrolls they demonstrated that God was greater than the evil spirits they had previously served.

Thus Jones’ planned Koran conflagration is in no way similar to the scroll-burning of Acts 19.
Pastor Terry Jones appears bent on this act of madness. Before he carries it out he should consider the grave consequences of his actions:

1. Jeopardizing the life and ministry of those brave Christian men and women working in the Muslim world. If General Patreaus is concerned about the welfare of soldiers, Terry Jones should be concerned about the welfare of his fellow believers.

2. Hardening Muslims to the Gospel. Seriously, burning the Koran is NOT the way to win the heart of a Muslim. As believers we were all shocked and horrified at the events of 9-11. It confirmed for us our own dedication to the true “religion of peace”, led by the very Prince of Peace. The best way to make sure something like this never happens again is for more Muslims to accept Christ. And burning a stack of Korans will not help that happen.

In fact, if Pastor Jones really wants to demonstrate his own personal courage, he should grow a beard, don a turban, tuck his Bible under his arm, and preach Christ in the Arab world. He would probably die in the process, but the cause of Christ will much more glorified than with his puny little Koran-cineration.

In short, Christ commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Nowhere is burning the Koran listed as part of the great commission.

Perhaps Terry Jones should spend more time reading his own Holy Book and less burning the holy books of others.

Talk back to the missionary: Opinions are running high on this topic. What’s yours? Vent in the comments section.


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  1. Andrew —
    I tried to suggest that we use this technique at the end of our upcoming missions conference. Half of the missions team did not even know what I was referring to!
    I love your idea about growing the beard and donning a turban for an arabic country. That really would show greater courage and compassion (walk a mile in my shoes, etc.)
    There are only 50 congregation members… why not equip 50 other true believers in Gainseville to attend the burning with extingushers?

  2. Despite the fact that burning the UNholy book of islam is a waste of a perfectly good fire, this tactic is not beneficial except to get some shallow form of revenge.
    And Andrew, I would disagree with calling the koran a holy book. It is UNholy. Otherwise, we agree.

  3. Great post! Your writing has a refreshing wit to it while aslo being gracious and sincere.
    I searched the Scriptures and keep coming up with more and more reasons why this shouldn’t be done. A thing I’m noticing in the medias indulgence is how Terry is alienating the community his church is called to reach.
    Thanks for you thoughts!

  4. Andrew, I did not mean to suggest you were considering the koran holy. I re-read my comment and see it did not express my sentiments properly. I know you and I agree on these things.

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