He is pastor of a tiny church in Florida called the Dove World Outreach Center. Dove? More like "Hawk." And here's my simple question: what is this guy thinking? Our military leaders believe this will spur the recruitment of more radical Islamic terrorists. Our missionaries fear this will make their work in Muslim countries harder and more dangerous than it already is. Other leaders with political savvy see this action as something will only reinforce the idea that many Muslims have that America is not just engaged in a war on terror; it's engaged in a war on Islam.
This Qu'ran burning will not sit well in the Muslim world. To Jones' credit, he did meet with Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida. The imam, in my view, looks more Christian than Jones because he told the press after the meeting that he held no grudge against Jones. He may not hold a grudge, but many, many Muslims will—especially Muslims in other countries. Having worked a few years with West African Muslims in France and Senegal, I've learned that most Muslims will be more upset about the burning of the Qu'ran than most Christians would be about the burning of the Bible. They revere the Qu'ran. In bookstores it must always be kept on the highest shelf. It must never be treated casually, like throwing it in a backpack or leaving it in a stack of other books. It must not be marked in or defaced in any way. They revere, Revere, REVERE that book.
And don't think Muslims in other countries won't hear about this either. They are more connected than you think—cell phones and computers even in remote places. What possible good could come of this action? Would Jesus give His approval to this Qu'ran burning? Don't misunderstand me: I'm not defending the Qu'ran. I do not believe the Qu'ran is God's word; I believe the Bible is God's word. But I can't imagine why anyone would want to burn a book so many people find holy, a book so many revere. Discuss it? Yes. Debate it? Of course. But burn it? Thus my question again: what is this guy thinking?
I can't answer that question. But I can answer this one: what is this guy not thinking?
- He's not thinking about the well-being of soldiers who serve in Muslim countries.
- He's not thinking of missionaries who are trying to lead Muslims to Jesus and who, if he follows through with this plan, will have to try to explain his actions and overcome a whole new set of obstacles between Muslims and the living Christ.
- He's not thinking about those words of Jesus that call us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
- He's not thinking of Jesus' words that we should do to others as we would have them do to us.
- He's not thinking of Peter's encouragement for Christians to "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that y9ou have. But do this with gentleness and respect . . ." (1 Peter 3:15).
- He's not thinking, it seems to me, of anyone but himself and his face-time in the media.
Would you join me in praying that God would somehow intervene in such a way as to change Jones' mind and get him to back the heck off of his burning party? There are already enough walls between Muslims and Christians (they build some and we build some). We don't need more walls; we need some bridges. Some are being built in various places around the world through Christian witness and missionary work. But if Jones decides to stick with his plan to burn the Qu'ran, he'll be burning some of those bridges too.
UPDATE HOT OFF THE PRESS
Not two hours after I posted this blog I read an Associated Press story announcing that Jones has decided to cancel the Qu'ran burning. He says he is doing this because he's been promised that in exchange, the proposed mosque won't be built near Ground Zero in New York City. Imam Musri from Florida doesn't think it a good idea to build the mosque there anyway. However, Musri doesn't have the power to make that decision, and the New York Imam who wants to build the mosque may not change his plans. Stay tuned. Anyway, it appears for now that God has answered the prayers of so many who asked Him to intervene and change Jones' mind. Praise the Lord!