Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Speaking the truth in love?

Well, he went ahead and did it. We reported in an earlier post (9/12/10) that Reverend Terry Jones, Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, had decided not to burn the Qur’an. He apparently had a change of mind and, on March 20th, Jones served as judge in a mock trial of Islam’s holy book, which was found guilty of “training and promoting terrorist activities … death, rape, torture of people worldwide”. [1] The latest news reports indicated that at least 20 have been killed and dozens more injured during protests in Kabul, Afghanistan. Following a sermon at the Mazar-e Sharif’s blue mosque, mobs formed, threw stones and breached the U. N. gates. Protesters chanted anti-American slogans, burned an effigy of President Obama, burned tires and blocked highways in other parts of Afghanistan.

Is Jones responsible for the deaths and rioting? There are two parts to the answer. First, those who committed the violent acts are responsible – not Jones. Humans have a pathological propensity to blame others for our own actions, claiming “I did this because he did that”. The truth is that each of us makes our own decisions to act and no one else is responsible. On the other hand, Jones knew his actions would lead to violence. In fact, he was warned last September by International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, Geoff Tunnicliffe, whose organization represents millions of evangelical Christians worldwide. He told Jones at that time, “"If you continue with your action and violence occurs, pastors are killed, churches are burnt down, would you actually come with me and sit with widows and explain to them why you had to take the action you did?" [2]

Many prominent Christians have denounced Rev. Jones’ actions and we concur. Whereas a strong case can be made that Islam and the Qur’an have led to much violence from the 7th century and until present times, provocative acts like those of Jones are counterproductive. The Apostle Paul instructed believers in Corinth to proclaim the message of salvation, “giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited” (2 Corinthians 6:3). He instructed Titus to “be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds … dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:6-8). As followers of Christ today, we should consider our actions by the standard: “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).

[1] Pittsburgh Tribune Review, “Quran protest enrages Afghans”, 1 Apr 2011.
[2] Jerome Socolovsky, Voice of America, “Religious Leaders Appeal for Calm After Quran Burning”, 5 Apr 2011,

No comments: