So a cranky fundamentalist pastor was suppose to lead his congregation in the burning of Qur'ans this weekend to mark 9/11. But someone got him to stop. Now the Fred Phelp's group is suppose to do it.
I am not for the indiscriminate burning of books. Not because of hand-wringing, P.C. hyper-sensitivities. I don't care for the "COEXIST" point of view if you know what I mean about those goofy and inane bumper stickers. However, in this instance, I probably share James White's opinion on the matter: the burning of those Qur'ans will not be accompanied by any meaningful discussion of the spiritual error of Islam as a religion.
As a Christian our battle against spiritual darkness is ideological. In other words, it centers around the captivity of men's minds to sinful ideas and the liberty of men's minds to the truth of God in Christ. This ideological battle is what the apostle Paul argues is the heart of genuine spiritual warfare (see 2 Corinthians 10:1-5). So rather than burning books, the more profitable approach is having mature, discerning believers interact with the material and explain why the ideology outlined in the offending books is erroneous and spiritually detrimental.
But note that I wrote "indiscriminate burning of books." There are some books that deserve to be burned without question. For example, I would say any sexually explicit and pornographic material. I would also add those particular books that were the source of teaching for a philosophy or false religion to which a person was previously enslaved. Now that this person is a follower of Christ, those books he once utilized to practice his philosophy or false religion, if he has the desire to burn them, he should. That would include the Qur'an of a Muslim saved out of Islam. In these cases, book burnings are not a bad thing.
Consider Acts 19:17-20:
This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus: and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
Allow me to make three observations:
1) The book burning that took place was the result of a personal move of the Spirit upon certain Jews and Greeks in Ephesus. In the previous portion of Scripture, the catalyst for this revival is said to be the encounter a well-known exorcist had with a demonically possessed individual. The demoniac jumped upon those attempting to perform the exorcism and thrashed them mightily. The story of this event was spread about the community and the fear of God fell upon many people as a result.
2) Those who burned the books burned their own books freely without any compulsion. In other words, a thunderous fundamentalist youth pastor wasn't telling them to burn their AC/DC records or their Harry Potter books. They did so on their own initiative, because they now had an abiding fear of God on their hearts. The books represented the teaching of a previous false religion that directed their lives but now they are set free from these sinful ideologies to follow Christ.
3) The spreading of the Gospel continued as a result of this book burning. It wasn't a sensational publicity stunt to gather personal attention and stir up strife in the community. It resulted in the proclamation of salvation.
In this case, the burning of Qur'ans by men and women who have abandoned their Islam and come to Christ is entirely appropriate regardless of the consequences which may follow.
Having said all of that, however, I find it a bit startling that the threatened reactions by Muslims around the world in response to a Qur'an burning in Florida by a fringe congregation causes everyone to just throw the first amendment clause about freedom of speech and so forth out the window. I mean, if this guy was leading his church in burning the book of Mormon, or the New World Translation, or say the religious literature of some other false religion, something tells me the president wouldn't be inclined to go on record expressing his frustration with the matter. In fact, I don't think any of the major public figures who have made statements of condemnation against this pastor and his church would have cared one way or another if it had been any other religion THAN Islam. This ought to tell us something about the religion and its practitioners we are bumping up against around the world.
It is also quite a display of remarkable hypocrisy on the part of our postmodern, political leadership in our pluralistic society who think one religion is no different from another and what is being debated is like which flavors of ice cream is the best. These champions of free speech wish to squash a little guy for exercising his religious free speech just for the sake of placating another religion?! Where were these people when that judge Moore character wanted to put up his copy of the ten commandments at a public court house?