Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back Off Gentlemen

As I’ve said before, one of the greatest evidences of the truth of Christianity is that its principles work when applied.

Two highly visible situations involving Islam give us an opportunity to demonstrate the truth of our faith. As a principle, Paul told the Romans, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”1 We’re to avoid doing things that knowingly antagonize and alienate others. As Christians we’re to take the lead in living at peace with others. We do this to point to Jesus Christ who made peace between God and man.

Recently I watched a video of Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth With A Mission. Loren said, “polarization leads to pride.”2 Polarization does not lead to peace with others.

Ground Zero Mosque

The mosque being planned near the site of Ground Zero in New York City has dominated political commentary in recent weeks. It has polarized opinion. The promoters say it is at least partly to honor the 9/11 victims. They say blocking the mosque will send the wrong signal to American Muslims and could lead to more Islamic radicalism. It could also cause other acts of “Islamophobia” they claim.

Opponents of the mosque have maintained that the site is wrong. It would symbolize Islamic triumphalism. It would dishonor the victims of 9/11. Most Americans, according to the polls, want the mosque built further away from Ground Zero. (For example, two thirds of New Yorkers oppose the site but not the right to build 3 )

Proponents of the construction correctly maintain that, as Americans, Muslim citizens have a right to build the mosque there. But not everything we have a right to do is the right thing to do.

Burning the Qur’an

At the opposite pole, Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, is promoting a day to gather people and burn the Qur’an. For a Muslim, the Qur’an is a sacred object of their religion. They are more emphatic about the physical book itself than are Christians. For a Muslim it’s an extreme insult to set a Qur’an on the floor. Dr. Jones, author of ‘Islam is of the Devil,’ is saying that Christians have to take a stand. He holds that this action will demonstrate that we must reject Shariah Law.

Opponents are saying Jones is putting Christians in many places in danger. Muslims are outraged. Significantly, many Christians including the National Association of Evangelicals are asking Dr. Jones not to have the burning. But the day is set for September 11 to burn the Qur’an.

Poles Apart

I fear that Loren Cunningham’s observation that “polarization leads to pride” is an issue here. Will the Christians take Paul’s advice and “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Or will human pride prevent that? Can we expect the Muslim organizers to back off of the construction? It is our Bible that tells us to live at peace with all to the best of our ability. The Qur’an does not teach that.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the chief mosque builder has dug in his heels regarding the site of the mosque, in spite of public outcry. He told an audience recently, “the fact we are getting this kind of attention is a sign of success.”4 Terry Jones and his followers are steeling themselves in the face of much anger and many warnings from fellow Christians. A recent church e mail said, “City of Gainesville denies burn permit — BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS.”5

Golden Opportunity

Does Christianity work? This is a chance for the Christians to take the lead by backing down from an antagonistic position and showing the world the supremacy of the Gospel. Jesus taught us to be willing take the low road. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”6 This is a critical moment. It’s a golden opportunity for Christians to demonstrate the preeminence of our faith.
Let us pray that Dr. Jones does the right thing!

I encourage you to email the Dove World Outreach Center and ask him to stop the burning on 9/11.

1 - Romans 12:18 (New International Version)
2 - From Loren Cunningham's message, “Ministering in the Opposite Spirit”
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 - Matthew 5:9


  1. Thanks Mike, well said. While I'd like the mosque supporters to show some sensitivity to the families of the victims of 9/11, I certainly don't believe that we can or should demand it. May we all extend grace in order to receive it.

  2. Thanks Sam. It is up to us, being children of the "Light of the World," to take the lead in extending grace. I am praying that the Christians in Florida would take that step.

  3. For whatever reason, Rev. Terry Jones DID call off the Qur'an burning on 9/11. I am thankful to God for this. In spite of that fact, atleast a couple people died in rioting in Afghanistan related to this. May the Christian church have the grace to reach out to our Muslim friends with love and sensitivity.


Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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