I am pleased to join several of my friends and colleagues in adding my name to a simple but straightforward statement, published in a full-page advertisement, in today’s New York Times.
It’s sponsored by the American Bible Society. It reads as follows:
“Burning the Qur’an does not illuminate the Bible.”
The ad, along with its signatories, can be viewed by clicking here.
Of course, this was in response to the planned “Burn the Qur’an Day” which was scheduled for this coming Saturday down in Gainesville, Florida. Late on Thursday, after intense pressure and discussions, the event was first cancelled and later suspended. Nonetheless, since the pastor urged others to join in his cause, it’s pretty fair assumption that somewhere this weekend, someone is going to set fire to a Qur’an.
Saturday will mark the 9th anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.
The event was to be sponsored by a very small church of maybe 50 people. Opposition to the event had been gaining momentum throughout the week. From the President of the United States to the Vatican, officials were speaking out against it, and understandably so.
Some have suggested the matter comes down to the freedom of expression.
Do we, as Americans, have a right to burn the Qur’an? Yes.
Should he do it? I don’t believe so, which is why I joined my friends, Dr. James Dobson, Chuck Colson and Ravi Zacharias, among others, in saying so.
So, why was I opposed to the idea of burning the Qur’an?
As a Bible-believing Christian, I certainly do not hold the Qur’an to be sacred Scriptures, as Muslims do. However, it is precisely because of their beliefs–and my desire as an evangelical to reach them with the truth of the Gospel–that I oppose this action. After all, how can we expect to show Muslims the love of Jesus when we’re setting on fire the very book they hold most holy?
However unwise this proposed burning would have been, the true tragedy, in my estimation, remains the thousands of lives lost on September 11, 2001.
This controversy garnered its share of headlines and controversy, but what of those innocent children who lost their mothers and fathers on that fateful day? Many of them are now grown and still grappling their way through life without the steady hand of the parent who meant everything in the world to them at the time. What of the widows who waited to hear the footsteps on the back porch but instead were met with silence and reduced to tears?
The events of the past week not only hurt Christian evangelism in general, but it also misplaced the focus of the 9/11 anniversary in particular. It saddens me that so much energy has been directed toward this isolated incident, a most unfortunate idea.
Instead of burning and tearing down the Qur’an, it’s my prayer that Christians everywhere would, in the words of the hymnist, “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name.”