Christianity,  Culture

Burning the Koran

Albert Mohler weighs-in on the Koran burning controversy. In short, his concern is not mainly that the act is un-American, but that it does not serve the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a publicity stunt that hinders the preaching of the good news. In the book of Acts, we don’t see the church deliberately trying to offend others, but rather we see them trying to preach the gospel. Listen to the rest below.

The Briefing – September 8, 2010


  • Donald Johnson

    ESV Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
    Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

  • Charlton Connett

    I’m really glad to hear Dr. Mohler coming out against this, but I’m a little surprised it has taken the Christian community so long to come out against this. I came across a news article on this event on August 19th. One of the things I am most worried about is how this is going to effect missionaries and mission activities across the world.

    I’m glad the Dr. Mohler made a point about looking at this through a Christian perspective, not simply an American war effort perspective.

  • Nate

    I agree that this church should not burn the Koran, but I don’t think we should immediately dismiss the readiness of the government (politicians), the press, and others that are so quickly lining up to protect Islam from ridicule. Where is the government, the press, and the Inter-faith community on the slanders and out-right abhorrent treatment of Christianity in this country? Where is there a cry that would silence Hollywood’s vicious attacks on Christianity. Comedy Central, that spineless organization that backed down as soon as Islam threatened them have no similar sense of decency when it comes to Christianity.

    Islam is not a religion, it is a totalitarian regime bent on consuming all countries that will fall prey to its seduction. Islam calls for all to submit to the Koran and Sharia law. It would overthrow this government and the US Constitution and ban all other religions given the opportunity. You say it wont, show me where Islam has not already overthrown the existing government or is not in the process of securing Sharia rights for Muslims living in countries where it has not already taken control. Go ask our ally England about that.

  • Greg

    I agree that the burning is an anti-gospel act. It does not represent Christ and is not the same as what took place in Acts. It is an unnecessary, offensive act which Christians should condemn.

    However, Pastor Jones will suffer for his actions, I am sure. His suffering will not be persecution because he does not represent righteousness here. Sadly, Christians around the world will suffer. In Indonesia, Muslims have already sworn vengeance.

    So, there ought to be one other point made. Taking offense at Quran burning does not justify murder. Can we say this with 1 voice to the Muslim world?

    Islamic ire cannot hide the irony that Muslims will likely make the Pastor Jones’ case for him as they respond with violence. This will hurt Muslims, too (though Christians will suffer more in a physical sense).

  • RD

    “Islam is not a religion, it is a totalitarian regime bent on consuming all countries that will fall prey to its seduction. Islam calls for all to submit to the Koran and Sharia law. It would overthrow this government and the US Constitution and ban all other religions given the opportunity.”

    Nate, I have to ask a serious question. Have you spent much time studying the Koran? How many surah’s have you read and compared the writings in each with the historical challenges that Muhammad was facing when each verse was proclaimed? How many practicing muslims do you know personally? Even more importantly, how many practicing muslims do you know that you would consider to be personal friends (you know their families, spend time in social settings together, have engaged together in personal discussions involving Islam and Christianity, etc)?

    I’m not trying to denegrate when I ask those questions. What I hear in your descriptions, though, is the sad reality of how so many people (both Christian and non) lump all muslims into one big category. The truth is simply that the vast majority of practicing muslims are moderate in their politics and tolerant in their religious convictions. Islam is the religion they practice and raise their children to practice, but they don’t have designs on taking over the world for a larger politico-idealogical purpose. I know many practicing muslims very well. All of them hold advanced degrees. All of them, without exception, deplore radical Islam and the actions of Islamic terrorists. My muslim friends no more wish to be lumped into the same category with Osama Bin Laden than I wish to be lumped as a Christian into the same category with the Florida church that is going to be burning Korans on Saturday.

    I think one of the most important goals of Christian ministry in the 21st century should be for responsible Christians to stand in the gap against irresponsible stereotyping of Islam and muslims. I grew up in the segregated south and attended a large Southern Baptist Church in Atlanta. When a black family joined our church I saw members that I had known since I was a child (some who had taught me in Sunday School) get up out of their seats and walk out of the church. Racial prejudice and religious prejudice are cut from the same bolt of cloth (as my grandmother would say).

  • Nate

    RD, I actually have studied Islam and have quite a few Muslim friends. Regardless of the fact that many Muslims don’t understand exactly what the Koran teaches is no different than many Christians who don’t know what the bible teaches, yet consider themselves Christian. To even attempt to turn this into a racial issue is ridiculous.

  • Kelly

    Nate, there are Muslims who will, unintentionally, shame their own faith by reacting to this simpleton in Florida with violence. Sadly, throughout history, Christians have done as bad or worse. The splendid multi religious society of Muslim Spain, home to Christians, Muslims and Jews, for centuries, attests to this. When the Jews had to leave Spain in 1492 because Christians rulers expelled them, most when to Istanbul, where they were welcomed, and wanted.

    Christians have done awful things, and quoted scripture to justify it.
    Muslims have done awful things, and quoted scripture to justify it.

    But both, at their core, have great beauty, and are peaceful.
    I agree with little Dr. Mohler says…but, I am happy to see he has said what he has in this instance. All such stupidity (Koran burning) does is make Christians look like idiots, and put servicepersons at risk. Good for Dr. Mohler

  • Thomas Newell

    Kelly historically you are wrong. Might want to pick up some Rodney Stark books to brush up on what history actually says about the track records of Muslims and Christians when it comes to violence. It is not even close.

    This comparison to try and put Christians and Muslims on the same platform when it comes to violent behavior is just absurd, and only motivated by PC motives.

    In fact just a month ago, Christians who were bring medical relief to Afghanistan were brutally murdered by radical Muslims simply because they were THOUGHT to have been talking about Jesus or having a Bible someone where.

    Islam has adherents who kill civilian medical relief volunteers for basically no reason other than because they are Christians. If only this would have gotten a shred of the coverage that 50 loons in Florida is getting, but somehow the two religions are basically equal in actions.

  • RD


    You’re right about there being radical muslim atrocities that are perpetrated against Christians (and against other muslims). The issue is how do we relate to and foster openness with moderate muslims, especially within the United States.

    As far as muslim violence goes, I think it is helpful to remember that Islam is roughly 600 years younger than Christianity. If we look at our own Christian history and the state of our developement 600 years ago, we see horrible mistreatment of Jews by Christians, we have the Crusades that ran from the 11th to the 17th century (essentially), etc. One only has to refer to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to see how violently many Christians treated other Christians, all in the name of preserving orthodoxy. As Islam continues to mature as a faith (and, as more and more muslims become westernized, this will happen) the overall tenor of the faith will moderate.

  • RD


    This is why the actions of the Christian church in Memphis (see link @ comment #11) toward their muslim neighbors is so important!

    This is how I think we need to view the entire NYC mosque controversy as well. Short term it is probably not a good thing that it be built so close to Ground Zero. However, ten years from now it will be a much better thing if it is there. And, with each passing year that muslims and other members of NYC’s faith communities worship in proximity to each other, peacefully, it will strengethen moderate Islam and serve to substantially weaken radical Islam.

  • Nate

    RD: The Crusades argument is very weak. The Crusaders were actually attempted to retake Jerusalem which had been conquered by the Muslims previously. So to say the Crusades were an example of Christians inadvertently attacking Muslims is a revisionist history.

    “As Islam continues to mature as a faith (and, as more and more muslims become westernized, this will happen) the overall tenor of the faith will moderate”

    Are you now a prophet?

  • RD


    LOL No, I’m not a prophet. I just honestly believe that Islam will moderate over time. My muslim friends all have kids who are attending american schools, playing american little league and soccer, etc. They all have iphones and all the western goodies. They will grow up, have kids who will be even more westernized, etc. Even in Iran there is an ever growing moderate faction and I believe they will eventually gain control of the country. There will always remain crazy radicals in every faith, of course.

    My point about the crusades is that they were religiously motivated. Christian response to opposition to the faith was to kill. That notion spread to how Catholics treated heretical Catholics. Later, after the Reformation, Catholics killed Protestants (and vice versa), and Protestants killed other Protestants. If a particular theological idea was thought to have been transgressed by an individual or group, it was perfectly fine to imprison, torture and kill the offenders. We’ve outgrown that kind of thinking (by and large) as a faith. Radical Islam, I believe, will, too.

  • Nate

    I agree and disagree with your response. For the first 300+ years of Christianity the only violence was towards Christians, not Christians. It was only after the political state took the name of Christian that we began to see this. However for Islam, this has never been the case. It has, from its beginnings, been a conquest oriented religion by the sword.

    Furthermore, while many Muslims are peaceful, especially those here in the U.S., that cannot be said for the rest of the Islamic world. Also, while we as Chrstians, typically, denounce guys like the Fla. pastor, there is almost no denucination of Islam from imans in this country toward the radical extremists, or to stop this mosque from being built at the world trade center.

    I dont believe that your “peace” will occur in the forseeable future.

  • Charlton Connett


    To say that Islam, as a religion, will moderate over time seems a little (more than a little really) optimistic. The cycles of violence that come from Islamic history demonstrate that the exact opposite should be our expectation. The simple fact is that what we call “radical” Islam is better understood as fundamentalist Islam, because they are accepting the interpretation of the earliest Islamic teachers, as can easily be seen by the military expansion of Islam through North Africa and into Spain within the first 100 years after Islam began. (Spain was conquered by 711, Mohammad began receiving revelations in 610.) Comparing Christian violence to Islamic violence is comparing apples to oranges.

    I’ve read the Papal order (a speech, but published as an order as well) calling for the Crusades, the call to violence was not based on an exegesis of Scripture. The same cannot be said of the Islamic calls to military expansion that came out of North Africa and the Middle East repeatedly from the 8th to the 16th centuries. Study Medieval history and you will see the vast differences between Islam and Christianity. No amount of age in a religion will diminish the violence inherent in that religion as long a valid interpretation of the holy book of that religion requires militaristic and violent expansion as the means of converting unbelievers.

    Yes, there will always be moderate Muslims, but there will always be a sizable minority of violent fundamentalists in Islam. Islam has already had all the theological and philosophical conversations necessary to lead to moderation. In fact, Islam today is more moderate that Islam was in the past. But, the idea that we will see Islam get more moderate is a stretch, history is against it. The problem is that the fundamentalist sects of Islam always gravitate toward violence, and there will always be a large enough fundamentalist section of Islam to perpetuate that violence. The only way to moderate Islam further would be through constant militaristic domination of any fundamentalist Islamic group, which is not realistically possible.

  • Thomas Newell

    RD, thanks for the thoughtful comment. Two things.

    1. I would recommend Rodney Stark’s most recent book “God’s Battalions” for an accurate historical account of the Crusades. As Nate brought up, how could Christians Crusade against Jerusalem to re-take it unless it had already be conquered by a young Imperialistic Islamic faith to begin with?

    2. I studied Islam extensively in seminary and to think that there religions allows for accommodation and adoption to Western principles of tolerance, and freedom of expression, is just false. Will you find some Muslim leaders who will say this? Sure. But look at the fruit of fully embodied Islam in the Middle East, and you will find little room for alternative lifestyles, other places of worship, or new ideas. Islam by it core doctrine is quite monolithic and leads to stamping out culture that it believes to be immoral.

    Even the “moderate” Imam who wants to build the mosque in NY (which I support his right to do so) believes the USA was an “accessory” to 9/11 and that Sharia Law has a place in American society and government.

    I could only imagine if a Pastor made equivalent statements to these. The outcry and editorials from the media would be endless.

  • RD

    And for some thought-provoking discussion check out this conversation between Bill Moyers and author Greg Mortenson. Mortenson talks about his book, Three Cups of Tea, and about his efforts to bring education to Taliban controlled areas of Pakistan. One of the most interesting things he notes is, “one thing we do in our schools is we teach five languages by fifth grade, including Arabic and English. But we teach the kids not only how to read Arabic, but understand Arabic. And when you read the Quran, you learn that nothing in the Quran says that innocent children and women should be killed. Suicide is the worst sin in Islam. The first word of the revelation to Muhammad the prophet is the Arabic word “iqra.” And “iqra” means “read.” What that means is that it implores all people to have a quest for knowledge. And in the Hadith, which is a part of Islam, the teachings, it says, in Arabic, “the ink of a scholar is greater than the blood of a martyr,” which means that the pen is more powerful than the sword.” Here’s a link to the entire conversation:

  • Nate

    So the pastor in Florida decides not to burn the Korans and what is the response of the Islamic world? Stabbing a Christian in the stomach and beating a pastor about the head with a plank in Indonesia the very next day.

    So much for RD’s theory that Islam is heading for moderation. Also, so much for the theory that if you try and play nice with Islam they will play nice with you. Okay, so who will be the first to say if the pastor hadn’t threatened to burn the Korans this wouldn’t have happened? To that person, I have some really great real estate to sell you. It’s a steal!

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