Truth seldom makes anyone happy. It cuts—like a two edged sword—both directions. Jesus talks about bringing a sword. He talks about walking the strait and narrow. Many in churches today want nothing to do with swords or narrow paths—and I’m not just talking about the liberal churches. Evangelicals are constantly swinging back and forth sounding like the left or the right in debates, or more often trying to sound sophisticated like the “center.”
Jesus is not about left, right, or center. Christian is opposite of center. The center is about compromise. Christian (that means literally “little Christ”) is the refusal to be compromised or co-opted by any position. To be Christian is to be under the total Lordship of Jesus Christ and to speak prophetic truth, often truth that offends our sensibilities. Let’s face it, the gospel from the outset was to the Jews a stumbling block and t gentiles foolishness. It is offensive—scandalous.
When it comes to the pastor in Florida burning Korans this is no less true. We evangelicals sound like a bunch of whining PC liberals for the most part, with the exception of a very few ignorant anti-Muslims. I was disappointed that even one of my hero’s in the middle east responded by saying that Terry Jones of Florida was responsible for whatever threats are carried out against his church. His feelings are understandable since he has received direct threats based on Jones’s actions. However, as my friend Adam Bradley said, “Burning a Koran endangers nobody. The threatened reactions to doing so endanger people. Correct moral attribution matters.”
Truth is, there is nothing inherently wrong with burning books. If it were former Muslims making a statement about “the bondage Christ saved them from” they would have full biblical precedent in Acts 19:19. Terry Jones has no such basis but seems to posturing himself to make a political statement having little to do with the furthering of the gospel. If that is the case it is wrong. It is being co-opted by a far right position instead of praying for the right position. If Jones intends something else then he is unwise to continue because his message has been completely lost. There is no value to the action. It looks like no more than a power move to manipulate the Muslim community and force their hand on the ground zero mosque. This is not the job of the church. Let us say simply it is wrong because it fails to understand ecclesiology or further the gospel, that is sufficient.
But “correct moral attribution matters.” If Jones doesn’t back down and Muslims react with violence, Jones is not to blame. The violent Muslims are. To say otherwise is like saying it’s a woman’s fault for being raped because she dressed immodestly or it’s a ten year olds fault for getting shot because his family lives in a rough neighborhood. I pray Jones backs down. I pray for the safety of my threatened Christian family. But do not make the mistake of blaming Jones for the violence done by others. It is a very slippery slope to where some Muslim politicians stand now—blaming Christians for getting themselves killed by radicals, if they would just be Muslims that wouldn’t happen.