My take on burning ‘holy’ books.

Too much ink, too many radio waves, and too many pixels have already been devoted to the coverage of the planned burning of the koran by the 50 members of Terry Jones’ church in Gainesville, FL.  In fact, one might correctly conclude that it has been the extensive media coverage that has elevated this stunt into the supposed international crisis-in-the-making.  Now, it is being reported that the White House is considering contacting Jones to ask him to reconsider his plans.  In so many ways, this seems like much to do about nothing.  Nevertheless, my thoughts:

  1. Let’s cut to the chase…Terry Jones’ plans to burn korans, leave him wide open to being regarded as an idiot, at least insofar as being a pastor of the gospel and minister of the grace of God in Jesus Christ.  If he really wanted to affect the Muslim world for the sake of conversion from their Islamic religion, he would evangelize rather than antagonize.  While the irenic discrediting of the Muslim ‘holy’ book would be an ultimate outcome, the figurative (or perhaps even literal) burning of korans should be left to the converts, not the converter.
  2. Terry Jones (and his Dove Word Outreach Center) are to Muslims, what Fred Phelps (and his Westboro Baptist Church) are to the GLBTQ community.  Both rail against their supposed nemeses, but it strains the imagination to think that either is the least bit effective in touching lives for the sake of the Savior they both claim.  Hating on people hardly seems like a way to attract them, to the degree that they would ever ask a Christian to give the reason for the hope they have.  (1 Peter 3: 15)
  3. Like Phelps, Jones seems to have a congregation who sits under his leadership more by virtue of cult-like programming or even blood relationships, rather than by free, independent philosophical alignment with his teaching.
  4. At the risk of seeming cavalier about it, so-called ‘holy’ books, are not in and of themselves ‘holy.’  That is to say, the paper and ink, and the materials used to bind them into a single book, are not ‘holy.’  Instead, it is the teaching that is contained within them that has spiritual weight and significance.  Case in point.  I have several Bibles.  Each one is published with a different English translation.  I own them in physical book form.  Most if not all of these same Bibles are also available on my computer, both in terms of data that can reside on the computer’s hard drive, or in portable media like a CD or flash drive.  Most if not all of these are also available via the internet.  Most if not all are also available for access via so-called Smart Phones or other “readers” like a Kindle, or an iPad.  All of this is to say that the content of these Bibles is what is ‘holy’, not the method or means by which that content is delivered.  To argue the other side is to suggest that mere paper, or your PC, Mac, Blackberry, or iPhone are in and of themselves “HOLY” simply because they contain, or can access information which IS ‘holy’.
  5. Related to number 4 above, to elevate a book (in its physical, material and tangible form even if it is a Bible or a koran) to such a level that its loss or destruction incites a violent response, would seem not to just border upon, but actually cross the line to being properly identified as idolatry. 
  6. The whole koran burning exercise that will supposedly take place on Saturday is, at its most fundamental level, pointless.  Unless what is being burned is the very last, and only remaining koran, I am hardly impressed that the fiery destruction of a bunch of copies of it in Gainesville, Florida is going to have any particular impact on the remaining availability of korans, or the continued teaching of the material contained therein.  Boiled down to its essence, all that is being burned is a bunch of paper and the materials used to bind it together in one book.  The world supply of korans is not going to be materially affected, nor will the continued practice of that faith.
  7. Apologists for the Islamic faith simply can’t have it both ways.  On one hand they claim that Islam is a “peaceful religion”, and yet they warn that the burning of their ‘holy’ book by some kook in Florida will incite violence around the world to the point where soldiers and other non-Islamic westerners are in imminent danger.  The distance between these two extremes is untenable and calls into question the truthfulness of the original claim about the peace-loving nature of Islam.  If in fact the burning of korans incites violence, it ultimately will speak volumes MORE about the true nature of Islam, and the character of its adherents, than it will about a nut in Florida, whose real credibilityextends no further than the 50 cult members he controls and whose real influence should not extend beyond that same limit.

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