Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL plans to burn the Koran on September 11th. I wrote this appeal to their leadership:
Dear Friends, I understand your desire to challenge the politically correct culture of our day with the serious challenge it faces from Islam, and to call attention to the way in which liberalism shows a self-defeating toleration for the very ideology that wants to destroy it. But I question the wisdom of your methods. I too thought of the precedent of the book burning in Ephesus. However, I want to compare the actions, then and now. First, the people who burned their books of sorcery were those who had repented and turned from their false practices and lifestyles. Paul did not take a bunch of these books and burn them as an open challenge to the idolatry of the people, much less use that as a means of getting them to convert. In other words, it was not an “in your face” attack against false religion by Paul, but a spontaneous movement of repentance by the people.
Secondly, Paul did not make a habit of attacking the false religions of the cities where he preached. If you take his work in Athens, for example, he used their own intimations of the divine to bring them a further revelation of the fulfillment of their hopes in God. Did you know that in Islam there is an annual sacrifice of a goat for the sins of the people? God has not left himself without a witness or without a cultural key. Is there not something there that will preach? Just as the high priest laid hands on the scape goat to transfer the sins of the people to that animal, which was sent out into the wilderness to die, so we have Jesus, struck by the high priest, put out of the city to die on a tree to take away the sins of all the people. Islam has a type, but it does not have the fulfillment. Jesus is the scape goat who takes away their sins.
While your work serves as a challenge to the complacent church, which compromises itself and seeks peace when their is no peace, is your work done in the same manner and Spirit as was that of the great evangelist? “All things are lawful, but all things are not profitable.”
Consider well, whether your work is done in with wisdom or by a fleshly counterfeit of that wisdom that comes from above. If you throw rocks at a hornet’s nest, all you’ll do is make the hornets mad. If you offer them honey, you may lead them where you want them to go.