Just as it was with the Ground Zero mosque, the debate over Pastor Terry Jones and his 50-member church, ironically called Dove World Outreach Center, planning to burn a Quran is suffering from a confusion over can and should. Asking can he do it, is much different than asking should he do it.
|Photo from DeviantArt.com by Alyssa Marie|
I can’t help but think that Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church are kicking themselves right now for not staging a Quran burning and having the media breathlessly report on their every thought and motive. [Shock of all shocks, before I could finish this post, Phelps popped up and said, “Me, too!”] Cranks do crank things for attention. Jones is getting all the attention he can handle and just for being an idiot.
But here’s the problem with the debate: Can Terry Jones burn a Quran? Sure. You can do it today in your backyard if you like. Can Jones burn a Quran as a publicity stunt, free speech issue? He’d better be able to, unless you want the government regulating free speech that they deem offensive. Should Jones burn a Quran? That’s a different and better question.
Political blog HotAir, while maintaining a principled objection to the stunt, dismisses many of the arguments used to discourage Jones from his proposed burning. I agree with much of the take there. However, the bigger question and more important concern for me is the Gospel. How does this help to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
As a self-professed Christian and pastor, Jones should be most concerned about the reputation of Christ and the way his actions will help or hinder the spread of the Gospel. I cannot see one way that this will help. It will further anger Muslims, even those who are peaceful, creating yet another barrier between them and acceptance of the Gospel. It will endanger local Christians and Christian missionaries around the world, especially those in predominant Muslim areas. Nothing about this says, “Jesus.” Everything about this says, “Look at me!” That’s the problem.
Jones is getting all that he wants out of this. He has countless media outlets interviewing him and talking about his tiny, previously irrelevant church. He received a phone call from the Secretary of Defense. He and his church have become relevant. Dove World Outreach Center has now undeniably reached the world. The only question is with what Gospel have they reached it?