ERROL CASTENS: Burning the Quran would have trashed the Bible

This column was written before some news developments in this story. Click here for the latest on Terry Jones decision.

Thank God that Terry Jones called off his plans for “International Burn the Koran Day,” originally scheduled for tomorrow. The Florida pastor said Thursday he’s secured a promise to have the popularly labeled “Ground Zero Mosque” moved – a promise the mosque’s imam denies.
As an American and a Christian, I sympathize with Jones’ frustration at seeing the glaring favoritism given by U.S. government officials and the mainstream media to Islamic presences in our country, with too few questions and too little responsibility asked of moderate Muslims.
Giving in to such frustration with tantrums guaranteed to win no friends but to make plenty of new enemies would have been both bad strategy and a treasonous misrepresentation of Christianity: We are not to respond to insults as worldly people typically do.
“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also,” Jesus said (Matthew 5:39).
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Paul wrote (Romans 12:21).
That’s not to say that we are leave evil unchallenged, whatever its source. Hold up the evidence against it for examination. Make the argument as palatable as possible, a la Paul expounding the “Unknown God” on the Areopagus, but as bitter as necessary to make the point: Jesus wasn’t afraid to use offensive terms for his adversaries, but he also prayed for their forgiveness.
Again, neither as Christians nor as Americans need we be doormats: If force can stop atrocities, use force. Christianity’s just war theory teaches that turning the other cheek is about insults, not about remaining passive while evil forces – whether rapists, religious zealots or renegade nations – threaten innocent lives. But for Christians to intentionally heap contempt on what others consider holy neither corrects nor edifies anyone.
One of Jones’ followers had used Acts 19:19 to justify the planned Quran-burning: “A number [of new believers] who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly.” Such an argument equates a schoolyard taunt with a sacrificial act of confession.
Jesus urged his followers to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). With International Burn the Koran Day, Jones’ Dove World Outreach Center would have been a shining example of neither.

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal