A church in Gainsville, Florida, USA, has started an international campaign to make 9/11 (11 September) an “international burn the qu’ran day”. They even have a Facebook fan page dedicated to it (I am NOT going to supply a link to it). The small church is called ‘Dove World Outreach Center’ and pastor Terry Jones is unmoved by growing international outrage at the planned burning of 150 copies of Islam’s holy book.
The Quran, according to Jones, is “evil” because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims. You can do a Google search for news of this event, and how even the US military is running a bit scared as they fear reprisal attacks by militant Muslims all over the world (inspired not by the qu’ran, but by hatred for the West and for those opposed to Islam).
I am not going to comment on the ramifications of such madness, although my head is spinning at how much damage one small church could potentially do around the world.
My only simple question is a spiritual and theological one: Would Jesus burn the qu’ran?
There may be debates about whether Jesus would be inclusive towards Muslims or not. I think he would have been, but I can see how some Christians would read their Bibles in such a way that indicates that Jesus would have excluded them from his friendship circle. There may be discussion about whether Jesus would have tried to engage with Muslims. I think it’s clear he did engage with people from other religions, and always did so with respect, tolerance and love. But again, I can (only just) see how some people read their Bibles and gain a different, more strident picture of Jesus. There is certainly debate about what Jesus taught us to do in relation to other religions. I see Jesus instructing us to engage, to be loving and respectful. I can see how others would interpret the Bible to say we should proselytise and point out error in other religions, and protect ourselves from contamination.
But all of these debates aside, I still have just that simple question: Would Jesus have burnt a qu’ran?
I cannot fathom any interpretation of the Bible or understanding of the nature of Jesus that would allow one to answer ‘Yes’ to that question. Pastor Jones might be right in his interpretation of Biblical truth (I think he’s not), but I cannot believe that burning a qu’ran is a Christ-like response.
I want my Muslim friends to know that anything that happens at ‘Dove World Outreach Centre’ this 9/11 weekend is not done in my name. I am a Christ-follower and I am abhorred that something like this could be done in the name of Jesus. What would Jesus do? I think He is weeping right now…
Salaam. Shalom. Peace be among us all.