This Saturday will be the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In response, a church in Gainesville, Florida is planning to burn copies of the Koran. Senior Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center has declared, "It is indeed a radical message but a very clear, radical message to Muslims, to Sharia law, that that is not welcome in America." This upcoming event has drawn protests from both Christians and Muslims. The city of Gainesville has refused to grant a burn permit to Dove World Outreach Center. Nevertheless, the church is going forward with its “International Burn A Koran Day.”
One might point out there is Scriptural precedent for burning books that oppose God’s word. Acts chapter 19 describes a group of sorcerers in Ephesus who publicly renounced their faith in the occult…
18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.
19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.
20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
Once I attended a church service on Halloween night where congregation members brought books, records, and other non-Christian materials to be burned. If an ex-Muslim carried his copy of the Koran to such a gathering, I would be supportive of his decision to burn it. Otherwise, that unused Koran could fall into the hands of someone who becomes deceived into following its false doctrine.
But as a fellow minister of the gospel, I do not support Dove World Outreach Center’s “International Burn A Koran Day.” Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Pastor Jones himself stated, “Most people who criticize are also the people who don’t do anything…If they do not like our method, then they should do something themselves.” He even suggested Christians going door-to-door distributing Christian literature about the love of Jesus. That’s certainly a better way to reach out to Muslims with the gospel. The Great Commission does not include burning books.
A century before the Nazis took control of Germany, Heinrich Heine (a German Jew who converted to Christianity) prophetically wrote, “Where books are burned, they will, in the end, burn people, too.” Rather than burning Korans, I advise the congregation of Dove World Outreach Center to focus on getting the word of God burning in people’s hearts.
“And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’ - Luke 24:32