theolog shmeolog

On Burning Qurans, Terry Jones, and our “Rights”

This rough, I might clean it up later, but I posted this recently at a friend’s Facebook page. If it is helpful to you, good…

From what I can see of the NT & the OT, our faith is not a tit for tat kind of thing. “Vengeance is mine–I will repay” says GOD. If someone is burning Bibles, we are called to feel compassion and pity and chalk it up to ignorance. Don’t forget Saul of Tarsus was willing to kill and may have been part of the process of killing Christians (Acts 8:1 – 3, 9:1)–and yet God showed compassion to him–through Ananias (who was nervous about meeting and helping Saul (Acts 9:13f), and brought him to salvation.  Paul calls his unbelief and opposition to Christ “ignorance”…There is Pauline, and Petrine precedent for this attitude:

(1 Peter 1:14 14 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance…” Ephesians 4:17-18 17 “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;…” 1 Timothy 1:12-13 12 “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;”

If someone is naming the name of Christ–i.e. calling themselves Christians, yet are false teachers, then we go after them like Paul and John say to. Neither Paul or John, gave quarter to apostasy or stubborn false teaching. But, the example of the Apostles, and our Lord was to crush false teachers, feed the sheep, and show compassion to those acting in ignorance. But, if they are unbelievers, and not false teachers as described above, our business is to evangelize them–not to foster hatred. Terry Jones is adding to the offense of the Gospel, and it is sinful to do that–in the name of patriotism, in the name of indignation, in the name of vengeance, or whatever. Even if he thinks he is somehow helping God, it is more like Peter’s “Malchusian moment” when he foolishly, and sinfully took off the high priest’s servant’s (Malchus) ear. If anyone needs censure here Jones does. Not censorship, he has the freedom to be foolish and sinful. But, simply because the Constitution allows it, that doesn’t make it moral.

And you are right, it is no big deal to offend Christians–I would posit that our Lord not only taught that, but gave the ultimate example of humility. He modeled and taught a humble acceptance of crimes done against Him, murderous crimes, and He bore the Cross, despising the shame. He told us that we should expect to be hated, despised, harrassed, persecuted and lied about–and we are never to raise a hand in an unbiblical way so as to prevent our being able to evangelize even our persecutors!. When Paul wrote Romans 13:1 – 7, speaking to the matter of obeying “authority”,  Emperor Nero was the “authority”–burning Christians as party lights, and persecuting the Church in numerous ways. And Paul’s response? Romans 13:1 – 7. However offended I am, (and I do get offended), however indignant I am (and I do get so sometimes) at the actions and mindset of Islam, as a Christian, I don’t get to foster those feelings, and should repent of them if they would get in the way of my evangelizing a Muslim.

Paul and Silas evangelized their jailer–their enemy. I don’t think that Terry Jones is doing the equivalent of sitting in prison, singing hymns and leading the jailer to Christ. When we became Christians, we surrendered our rights, if those rights in any way shape or form cause a stumbling block for the progress of the Good News. We are Christians first, Americans second. Peace and grace.

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