Monday, September 6, 2010

A Church Burning the Koran on 9/11 ?

This weekend is the ninth anniversary of 9/11. It is a time to remember those that lost their lives in a terrible attack in New York nine years ago by terrorists. This is also a time to be very grateful for those who give of their lives so that violations like this will not happen in the future.

Yet I was deeply disappointed to hear that there is a non-denominational church in Gainsville, Florida that will be burning the Koran in a public ceremony on 9/11. Their logic is that it is because Islam is of the devil, and Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, then Christians should burn the Koran. On a YouTube video, the pastor asks "why wait" and burns a Koran on film. He squirts lighter fluid on it as it goes up in flames. How offensive.

This is not only a highly inflammatory way of dealing with pain, it is Christianity reshaped into some other image. I'm afraid their logic is not only flawed but dangerous, because it is simply issuing hate repackaged with a Christian label.

There is nothing Christian about hate. Christ came to show us that self-giving love is stronger than hatred, that his very presence (and his presence in the love of Christian community) is enough to change the world. Christ taught to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us (not that Islam caused 9/11, extremist terrorists did). He proclaimed that others will know we are Christians by our love, and that the new command he would give us is that we must love one another as he has loved us. In short, Christianity's answer to hate is radical love, not more hate. The church is called to give witness to the love of God in this world.

I do believe it's important to stand for what you believe. But this church in Florida is living out of brokenness instead of out of the Spirit. I preached about this as well as the more general tendency we have to reshape religion into our own image, rather than being willing to be continually shaped by it. I addressed it in a sermon entitled "Life in the Potter's House" on the subject of spiritual formation.

My sermon may be accessed by clicking Life in the Potter’s House if you would like to have a listen.

I realize these are very deep and painful issues and there are complex things to work out in the world. But if we throw away the very essence of our own faith, all in the name of defending it, have we not truly become lost?