Colson: A Bad Idea “International Burn a Koran Day”

Charles Colson

Charles Colson

Source: Breakpoint

Listen here:

September 08, 2010

Pastor Terry Jones’s thoughts about Islam are simple and direct. The title of his book says it all: Islam is of the Devil. The same thought is on a sign outside of his church, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, and on the T-shirts and coffee mugs the church sells.

In order to raise greater awareness of the dangers of Islam, Jones has designated 9/11 as “International Burn a Koran Day.” According to their Facebook page Jones hopes, and I quote, “To bring awareness to the dangers of Islam and that the Koran is leading people to hell. Eternal fire is the only destination the Koran can lead people to so we want to put the Koran in its place­the fire!” End quote.

Every Christian believes that no man can come to God but through Jesus Christ. That’s not a bigoted remark, that’s simply the truth claim that underlies Christianity. And I would expect that Muslims would tell me that my religion, Christianity, is a false religion.

The unique thing about the United States is that we are prepared to fight for and defend every single individual’s right to his or her choice to practice the religion of their choice. We learn to respect our differences in a free, pluralistic society.

I have also referred repeatedly on BreakPoint to the dangers of the Islamist movement, which is an ideologically extreme perversion of the Islamic faith. And this is why so many armed conflicts around the world involve Muslims­often fighting other Muslims.

And the attempts to inject parts of Sharia Law in the United States and Britain are a hazard to our constitutional order.

All that being said, I find Jones’s plan to burn the Koran foolish and contemptible. It poses dangers Jones has either overlooked or chooses to ignore.

As Dr. John Rankin, president of the Theological Education Institute correctly notes, if Jones burns the Qur’an, “the images will reverberate on the Internet internationally, and this could lead to unparalleled fury in the Muslim world.”

And most of that fury will be directed into violence against Christians in Muslim areas throughout the world. If Jones goes through with this horrid plan, people­Christian people­will suffer and some will die.

General Petraeus has even expressed fear for our troops in Afghanistan.

Second, Rankin comments, “The Gospel would thus be slandered.” The Apostle Peter tells Christians that we are to be good apologists, but as we give people reasons for our hope in Christ, it has to be “with gentleness and respect.”

Burning the Koran will be taken as the height of disrespect by the Muslim world where copies of the Koran are treated as sacred objects and are handled with the utmost care and reverence. Nothing in the Bible encourages us to treat Muslims or any other religious group with this kind of contempt.

Rankin concludes, “The stakes are high in terms of the reputation of the Gospel and protection of innocent lives in tinderbox sections of the Muslim world.”

My most fervent prayer is that Jones will reconsider and cancel the Koran burning in the name of the Gospel of Peace.

Part of a Christian worldview is the ability to articulate what we believe and why we believe it in the face of competing worldviews like Islam. But we detract from our witness if we allow anything except the Gospel to offend our unsaved neighbors.


  1. George Patsourakos :

    While Pastor Terry Jones can have strong feelings against the violence and terrorist activities that Muslims have carried out in recent years — and most Americans have similar feelings — he should not be encouraging people to burn Korans on 9/11.

    As a Christian pastor, he should be adhering to Christ’s teaching of love and forgiveness — even for our enemies.

  2. George Michalopulos :

    I despise what Pastor Terry Jones is trying to do. As an Orthodox Christian, one of the constant petitions I hear in the liturgy is “we pray for those who love us and those who hate us.”

    On a purely principled note, I wonder where are the liberals who have been screaming about “freedom of religion” on the Ground Zero Mosque are? Why so silent? I’ve only heard Mayor Bloomberg enunciate the principled position.

  3. Let me state first that I do not agree with what that nut-case in Terry Jones is going to do. It, in no way, displays the love that Christ demands of us.

    That said, I find the uproar interesting. Would there be any uproar if an iman decided to burn bibles? Of course not – free speech. I think the whole controversy proves the point about islam. It is a violent, mean, religion where killing those who don’t agree with them is the norm.

    Think about this: we Christians believe that the angel Gabrial announced the birth of the Son of God to Mary. The Quran says that Gabrial is the one who gave the visions to Mohammed. Both cannot be right. IF we are right, than who gave the visions to Mohammed?


  4. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    The same one that gave them to Joseph Smith?

    Seriously though, you don’t poke an angry dog. You don’t even poke a friendly dog. He might turn around and bite you. Burning a Koran is an act of provocation, pure and simple. It’s senseless.

    Look, the West’s impotence against the Islamic onslaught is of our own making. Today the Imam of the Cordoba Mosque (they switched back to that name — they sense weakness apparently) said if the mosque is not built near Ground Zero it “would strengthen the ability of radicals to attract recruits” Talk about intimidation. Will it work? It just might, especially with the secular left who, because of their own spiritual impoverishment (secularism is spiritual impoverishment, spiritual impoverishment is secularism) will always defer to the strong man. Nietzsche was right, without God there is only a will to power. The secularist fancies himself the Uberman when in fact he will become the slave.

    Along those lines (in light of Nietzsche’s prophesy which functions as an inverse of Orthodox anthropology), I’m debating an atheist in November and my side got to choose the title: Can man be fully human without God?

  5. This preacher’s idea of ‘evangelism’ seems to focus on a purely negative statement about the other faith. In typical fashion, he offers nothing positive. Should we infer that he he preaches the Gospel effectively the other weeks of the year? What would lead us to that conclusion?
    This contemplated act of provocation is one of pure cowardice. Which of this preacher’s flock will be inconvenienced, let alone threatened in retaliation for it?
    The upshot of this egoistic exercise in glory-hogging is that Orthodox, Catholic, Coptic and Oriental Christians will die. This should be obvious to all of us. No Protestant American in Florida lives under the death threat of an Islamic majority.
    About a decade ago, between graduating SVS and getting married, I was working in a cafe in Millbrae, CA. A young misanthrope worker the other baristas called “the Priest” for his confrontational Evangelism told me I should have no care for the lives of Middle Eastern Christians lost in the conflict stirred up by he invasion of Iraq, that they were safe in God. His skewed faith had no room for grief over the deaths of the innocent; rather, his ideology displaced such ‘petty’ concern for the glorification of a disembodied Godhead.
    I see no difference between this wanton disregard for others’ lives and that of jihadists. These people deserve each other.

  6. News item today: …A Florida pastor cancelled plans Thursday to burn Korans on Sept. 11 because he said the leader of a planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero has agreed to move its controversial location.

    “We felt that would be a sign that God would want us to do it,” said the Rev. Terry Jones. “The American people do not want the mosque there. And of course Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran.”

  7. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Man, what to make of this? If accurate, does is show that culturally aggressive Muslims can be intimidated with threats to burn their Koran? Just throwing out an idea here. I never expected this kind of ending (assuming here the story is accurate which we won’t know for sure for a while).

    Fla. minister cancels burning of Qurans on 9/11

  8. George Patsourakos :

    This is the latest news from the Associated Press on the Koran-burning scenario:

    The imam planning to have a mosque near ground zero in New York has denied that he made a deal with Rev. Terry Jones to have the mosque built elsewhere.

    Imam Muhammad Musri said there was only an agreement between himself and Rev. Jones to travel to New York City and meet with Muslim officials planning to build the mosque near ground zero.

    Rev. Jones said he “was lied to” by the imam, who clearly said the mosque would not be built on ground zero.

    Rev. Jones said he is reconsidering his decision of canceling the burning of the Korans on 9/11, and now calls his decision a “postponement” decision instead.

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates personally appealed to Rev. Jones in a phone call today, asking Rev. Jones not to burn Korans, since doing so would almost certainly instigate Muslim terrorist activities and endanger the lives of America’s troops.

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