WASHINGTON -- The following is submitted by Rev. Rob Schenck:
It's hard to understand why Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, will burn a Koran on September 11. After my 36 years of Bible study, three degrees from Bible-believing schools and 28 years of preaching in Bible-centered churches, it's impossible for me to cite one instance in the life or teaching of Jesus Christ that could justify such an act.
Taking Pastor Jones at his word that he sees all Muslims as violent extremists who want to impose sharia law in the United States, it is still clear the New Testament teaches Christians to love even their enemies. When He said from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), Jesus showed consummate generosity to the people who spit on Him, mocked Him, beat Him and ultimately murdered Him.
Later, one of the first missionaries, Stephen, as he was stoned to death, prayed to God for his attackers and said, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." (Acts 7:60)
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The Apostle Paul instructed the Romans that when it comes to those who harm us, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:19-21).
Following his service as a missionary abroad, surely Pastor Jones knows the Koran is more than the Holy Book of the Islamic religion. For most Muslims, the Koran represents a culture, a heritage, a people and even a language. Burning the Koran is not instructive, but insulting. It also says we don't really believe the message we preach, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Surely Pastor Jones knows burning a Koran will not bring a Muslim to faith in Christ. Surely he knows insulting Muslims will not make Christians or our message more appealing. Certainly the pastor knows burning things belongs to groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and, yes, terrorists.
If the pastor knows these things, then what could be his reason for doing something so contrary to Christ and the Gospel?
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Burning a Koran is un-Christian, unkind and un-American. Pastor Jones and those who intend to aid and abet his intended act should confess their sinful attitudes and repent of them.
Only after the Pastor admits he is wrong will Muslims take seriously whatever else he may want to say to them.
Rev. Rob Schenck is an Evangelical minister and a missionary to elected and appointed officials in Washington, DC. He holds degrees in Bible, Theology and Christian Ministry.