Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Where's the Gentleness and Respect?

Time and time again when I am speaking to someone about the truth of Christianity, one of two objections almost inevitably arises. The first is how a loving and omnipotent God could allow pain and suffering in the world. I have explored that topic elsewhere and we'll have to reserve any revisitation for another day. The second objection is how Christians, who supposedly exemplify Christ's love to the world, throughout history have been directly responsible for so much hatred, pain and bloodshed.

It truly amazes me how many so called Christians will pick and choose what they like from the scriptures while ignoring passages that clearly and unequivocally condemn their actions. Specifically, I am writing today about the plans by "Dove World Outreach Center" in Gainesville, Florida to commemorate the 9th anniversary of 9/11 by holding and encouraging "International Burn a Quran Day."

AOL News story

I obviously do not believe the Quran is true. I also take issue with many Muslim groups who refuse to allow anyone the privilege of exposing it to intellectual criticism. But that does not mean we should be burning it.

This calls for a dose of common sense. We are called to answer the non-Christian world with "gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). Put the shoe on the other foot. How would members of the Dove World Outreach Center react to a call to hold an "International Burn a Bible Day?" Would they feel respected by those calling for such an event? Would they be angry, furious even? Then how do they expect Muslims to react, and how do they honestly believe they are fulfilling God's command to interact with gentleness and respect? Please allow me to be abudantly clear to these alleged Christians. You may think you are acting for God. You are not. In fact, what you are doing is the exact opposite of what He has commanded. This is a horrible idea and you are showing an utter disregard for your Creator by doing this. You owe the entire world an apology, including your fellow Christians who, thanks to you, will now be associated with the actions of about 50 people who are willfully defiant of the Word they claim to hold so dear.

It does not avail anything to claim that Islam is a violent religion and that more drastic measures than usual must be taken. First, what are you doing, exactly, to disprove Islam? Nothing. You are figuratively spitting in their faces, which will only serve to provoke animosity toward the gospel.

Second, Peter did not allow any exceptions to the command to show gentleness and respect. In fact, the entire point of the command is that the worse a non-Christian reacts, the better you appear to the world around you because you continue to be courteous.

Finally, before you are too quick to label all Muslims as violent, remember that if the actions of certain sets of believers were sufficient to label an entire worldview, there would be plenty of evidence to attach the same label to Christianity:

Army of God
Concerned Christians
Scott Roeder

Following the "logic" of the Dove World Outreach Center, these incidents should justify encouraging a world wide burning of Bibles.

This is precisely why we are not to interact with the world through antagonism, provocation and violence. If you want to disagree with Islam, do so by explaining to the world why it's doctrines do not hold up to logical or existential scrutiny. But in taking actions like this Quran burning, you are turning people away from Christ, not bringing them closer to Him.

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