Yes to the Bible, No to the Burning of the Qur’an
Rev. John C. Rankin (September, 2010)
Christians affirm the full and equal dignity of all Muslim peoples in the sight of the one true Creator. We do so in affirming the complete truth of the Bible, while at the same time not affirming the nature of the Qur’an.
In the public sphere in the United States, unalienable rights, as rooted in their historical Source, are to be honored equally for peoples, Muslims likewise. This is due not to religious identity, but on the grounds of a deeper shared humanity.
Thus, to put it in political language, our partisan affirmation of the Bible leads us to affirm the full human dignity of those who believe in a text we do not believe in. This is to love God and neighbor, to fulfill the “Golden Rule” of treating others as you wish to be treated.
The ethics of the Bible are by definition proactive, reflecting the declared goodness of the order of creation, and its redemption in Jesus. The word “Gospel” means “good news,” it starts in Genesis and is fulfilled in Jesus. This is Theology 101 for Christians.
Therefore, as biblically faithful Christians, we always seek to be proactive in our actions toward all people. The Gospel empowers us to give to those who would take from us, love those who would hate us, and bless those who would curse us. And as Jesus said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
The poet, Heinrich Heine, a German Jew who converted to Christianity, wrote in 1820: “Where books are burned, they will, in the end, burn people, too.” Prophetic of Nazi Germany.
So, here are seven questions for those who would burn a copy of the Qur’an:
- How can such a proposed action be other than one of reactive fear, not one of proactive confidence? It is foreign to the Gospel.
- Is not the burning of the Qur’an seen by Muslim peoples as bad news, and thus a hindrance to Muslims grasping the Good News in the lives of Christians?
- Is not the burning of the Qur’an an act of accusation and condemnation? The name of Satan in the Hebrew (ha’satan) means “the accuser” or “the slanderer.”
- Does not the burning of the Qur’an thus burn Muslims in their very souls?
- Does not the burning of the Qur’an by professing Christians thus slander the name of Jesus Christ?
- What happens if people are killed, injured or persecuted as a result, if properties are burned or damaged, due to an inflamed Muslim world as images of a burning Qur’an flood the internet? Who will be ultimately responsible?
- Jesus, in the face of his enemies during Passover Week, embraced their toughest questions in public assembly. Is not the burning of the Qur’an the opposite of such confidence in communication?
For Christians who embrace the proactive confidence of the Gospel, we seek out the toughest questions from Muslims in public assembly, among equals in the sight of the one true Creator, where the Bible and the Qur’an can be looked at side by side.