The Koran burning planned by the pastor of the Dove Outreach Center has grown into a big news item lately. Make no mistake based merely on the impressive-sounding name: The “Dove Outreach Center” is actually only a small church in Florida having about fifty members. But despite the relative unimportance of this small church full of potential burners, the planned burning has thrown the entire nation into an uproar — because the Koran burning might make Muslims mad, and might incite violence and such.
Specifically, I have noticed several conservatives who have voiced their opposition the Koran burning, including Glenn Chatfield, Crude, Sean Hannity, Franklin Graham, my dad, and the Pope. According to Franklin Graham, “It’s never right to deface or destroy sacred texts or writings of other religions even if you don’t agree with them.” But is that really correct? Is it never right to engage in such defacement?
To the contrary, such defacement is at least sometimes righteous:
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
And lest anyone argue that “sorcery” is not actually a religion, I think most of its practitioners would disagree. On the other hand, I suppose that a Christian could always argue that the churchmembers listed in Acts were in fact engaging in wrongdoing when they burned the books (as Franklin Graham seems to argue). But the text itself does not seem to hint at that idea, and neither does the rest of the Bible.
But aside from the issue of whether burning religious documents is strictly right or wrong, Glenn Chatfield instead framed the question as follows:
Are we as Christians to be intentionally insulting unbelievers? How do we reach them with the Gospel that way?
Should we ever intentionally insult unbelievers? Well, let’s look and see…
1 Kings 18:26-27
So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
Granted, maybe if we assumed that 1) all unbelievers were Muslims and that 2) all these Muslims unbelievers had a tremendous respect for pushovers and wimps, then yeah I suppose under such assumptions the appeasement logic would make sense.
But instead, imagine that one unbeliever is not particularly attracted to Islam, but merely lives in fear of the religion. Because of his fear and because of the his accurate observation that no one in the West seems willing to stand up to Islam, he decides to submit to Islam even against his will. For that one unbeliever, the best way to reach him with the gospel is to demolish his fears.
That same night the LORD said to [Gideon], “. . . . Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! . . . . The men of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” So that day they called Gideon “Jerub-Baal,” saying, “Let Baal contend with him,” because he broke down Baal’s altar.
I personally cannot stand all the trembling and trepidation in this nation over Islam. In fact, I’m still mad about that last episode of South Park last season, where extended sections of the show (mentioning Muhammed’s name and showing his face) were bleeped out and blacked out to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities. I’m still mad about the people murdered by Muslims for drawing political cartoons showing Muhammed’s (fictional) face. For that matter, I’m still mad about the Muslims who blew up two of our skyscrapers and now are planting a mosque in place of them to honor the historical conquests of Islam. I’m mad, and I imagine others are mad, too. People are tired of living in fear of these murderers. So if anyone wants to burn a damned Koran and thereby liberate the minds of the fearful, I think that person is doing a good deed. Maybe if more people would start burning Korans in public, we could cut down on the fear. Maybe the idiot terrorists could find some more important things to get upset about and would stop shooting people for showing pictures of “the Prophet.” They can’t take us all down. Let’s burn so many Korans that the only realistic response will be for the extremists to pray, “Let Allah contend with these Americans, because they all burn Korans as often as they eat bacon.”
Overall, I think the obliteration of fear is certainly a worthwhile cause. But my feeling is that both conservatives and churchmembers these days have just turned into wusses, and that this wussiness is a big part of our problem.