Thursday, September 09, 2010

Qu'ran Burning Halted--Thank God!

UPDATE: Scratch that--it seems like it's back on.

It looks as though the church planning to burn the Qu'ran has decided to back down and cancel the event.
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Florida pastor Terry Jones, who had planned a mass burning of copies of the Islamic Quran for Sept. 11, has canceled the event in the wake of international outcry, according to media reports late Thursday. Jones, who heads a tiny congregation outside of Jacksonville, became a lightning rod for international criticism overnight after scheduling the event. [source]
I'm glad. The idea of burning the Qu'ran was terrible. Why? Well, here are my thoughts. . .

1. It is foolish.

It smacks of juvenility. What’s the point of this? To send a message? How? Any way you slice it, the message is unclear.

If the point is to protest the actions of Muslim extremists the act of burning the Qu’ran fails to communicate that message. Burning the book believed to be holy by all Muslims, not simply extremists, fails to make the (ostensibly) intended point. Instead, it offends all Muslims indiscriminately—making it really impossible to claim that the protest is limited at a sect within Islam.

If burning the Qu’ran at a Christian event is designed to make the case that Islam itself is a deficient religion and therefore inferior to Christianity, it is also silly: when Peter said that Christians should be ready to give a “reason” for their hope, I doubt very much that the apologetic approach he was advocating involved book burning. Book burning smacks of weak-mindedness; let's use reason and employ a thoughtful discussion.

2. It is un-Christian.

Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Is committing an action that would be perceived as a profound insult such as burning the Qu’ran really necessary here?

Obviously, I am not saying that discipleship means avoiding doing anything that might be considered offensive at all times; Jesus himself used language that insulted the high priests at his trial.

But Jesus was also concerned about offending others needlessly. For example, he instructed Peter to pay the temple-tax so as “not to give offense to them” (Matt 17:27).

It seems “loving” your enemies means not going out of your way to offend them. Jesus teaches, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28).

In fact, Jesus specifically teaches us to “make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Is this action going to help accomplish that? Or is it going to simply reinforce misinformed views about Christians in the West? Is it truly teaching as Jesus taught? Again, I think not.

Rather than inflammatory speech and offensive acts, how about a reasoned defense? Islam, for example, teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross. Can we have an honest and open historical dialogue about that? Which religion’s teaching—Christianity’s or Islam’s—best fits the historical evidence?

Perhaps that kind of thoughtful debate can actually help further the dialogue. Somehow, however, standing by a bonfire chanting “Burn, baby burn!,” seems a less effective means to that end.

In sum, then, the action is un-Christian because it fails to really proclaim the message of Christ in a way that, I think, is truly Christ-like.

3. It is dangerous.

Clearly, this is likely to incite violence; reprisals are sure to come. When a military leader who has vast experience working in a largely Muslim region tells you that your action is going to put troops in harm’s way—we’re not even talking about civilians who are not trained in defending themselves!—it’s time to listen up.

Indeed, there’s precedent. Just not long ago violence followed the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed. There was also the violence that erupted after a speech by Pope Benedict. (Some Muslims attempted to show that in fact Islam is a religion of peace by acting out in violence--yeah, that made sense.) So we’ve been down this road before.

4. The affair reveals a double standard.

While I stand by everything I have said above, it also reveals a ridiculous double standard in the press when it comes to religion.

Day after day, year after year, Christianity is mocked in many and various ways and no one complains. In fact, if the mocking is done well in pop-culture—if it really makes people laugh—it is hailed as great comedy. Jesus is depicted in all sorts of ways offensive to Christians; priests are routinely maligned as child-predators; icons sacred to Catholicism are defaced or disfigured.

As a matter of fact, in the last two years alone I knew two Catholic churches which were vandalized in such a way that the police clearly identified the acts as “hate crimes”. But there was little or no press.

Tolerance is demanded for every variety of expression of faith it would seem except Christianity; and it especially feels like its open season year-round on Catholicism.

I think it is wrong for a number of reasons for the church in question to burn copies of the Qu’ran. I condemn it in the harshest language. But where are the same anguished, outraged commentators and anchors when Christianity is maligned?

Hello? Anyone?


Michael said...


I painfully agree with you, somewhat. You are dead on. It is hard for me to concede this point because I do feel that Islam is a wretched and vile religion. The first victims that fell to Islam were the individual Muslims that championed it's cause. But burning their books will not accomplish what is needed.

Maybe you can enlighten me, but I can't see how anyone can say that we worship the same God. There are just way too many differences between Allah and Yahweh. They can't possibly be the same. Do you know of anyway to reconcile the two as being the same? And I know the Jews have a different view of God but that is because they deny the New Testament. Islam claims they esteem the Gospels but undermine them at the same time by saying they were perverted.


Michael said...

I meant that I somewhat painfully agree with you, not that I agree with you somewhat. Sorry.


Michael Barber said...


My view is that inasmuch as Muslims worship God sincerely and whereas their faith is correct, they are speaking to and about the same God. I affirm what the Catholic Church taught at the Second Vatican Council:

"The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. they worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God's plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting.

Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values" (Nostra Aetate 3).

Michael said...

Ok, but it says nothing about Islam. I did not ask anything about Muslims. Muslims are just people that adhere to a certain belief system. It is the system that I find contradictory to our God. If Sacred Scripture (Old/New) and Sacred Tradition are the WORD of GOD, then the Qu'ran can't be since it directly contradicts our Sacred Scripture. Jesus was either the Son of GOD or just a prophet. Yahweh is either a Father or not, a monad or not. He can't be both at the same time. This is not one of those both/and Catholic situations.

Nostra Aetate seems to be saying that just because we share some common ground, then we must be praying to the same GOD, but it still says nothing about Islam as a religion. It only talks about the devout practices and intentions of Muslims.

My concern is not Muslims, it is the force that drives Islam that concerns me.

Do you think it is possible for Satan or his demons to be responsible for such a force, or is that position out of question?


Michael Barber said...


The Church hasn't addressed that in particular. I do think that the spirit that leads to violence and terrorism cannot possibly be the Holy Spirit. I'll leave it at that.

Michael said...

Did Pope Urban II say the below, concerning the Muslim forces at the time of the Crusades? If so, was Pope Urban II a heretic?

“All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested."

And wouldn't 2 John 1:7-13 trump Vatican II on it's take on Islam?

7Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

12I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.

I think VII is on very shaky grounds with the teaching you provided, along with the CCC 841. This is a big problem for me and don't see how the Catholic Church can continue it's current take on Islam without proving itself to be fallible since it is contradicting past teachings. Can you help me further with this?

GOD bless,

Michael said...


I made my last post before seeing your last reply. I understand your position and don't want to put you out on a limb but there needs to be an answer to my concerns. They are legitimate and many are using our allegiance to Islam to prove that the Catholic Church is leading people astray. This surely needs to be answered explicitly and not cloaked with carefully chosen words.


Michael Barber said...


I'm not seeing the contradictions you're seeing. I have deep respect, for example, for Muslims who pray three each day--in fact, more regularly than most Christians. I think there are serious problems in Islam from a theological point of view, but I do agree with St. Paul:

"When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus."

I think those who deny that Christ has come in the flesh are wrong and I do agree with 1 John there. However, I do not think that those who truly do not know or understand the Christian faith are guilty of rejecting it either. In sum, I agree with Pius IX, who, writing in 1863, and summing up the teaching of Aquinas and other doctors of the Church, taught:

"It is known to Us and to you that those who labor in invincible ignorance concerning our most holy religion and who, assiduously observing the natural law and its precepts which God has inscribed in the hearts of all, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life can, through the working of the divine light and grace, attain eternal life" (Quanto donficiamure moerore [1863]; DS 1677).

Michael Barber said...

Sorry, I meant 2 John of course!

Michael said...

I agree with you but invincible ignorance is not in play here for the leaders of Islam. The people that don't know better, yes, I agree. The teachers of Islam purposely reject the teachings of Jesus and deny him. They are not doing it out of ignorance. They know the teachings of the New Testament and well educated. They reject Christ as the Way to the Father and continue to teach something strange.

I am not saying the Muslim people have no chance of salvation, but I do believe that the religion is lead by a different spirit.

Also, how do some of the teachings of Islam respect and honor the natural law written on the hearts of men? Isn't the Natural Law codified in the Moral Law?

“And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.” Surah 2.191

and Surah 9:5
When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.

This is post resurrection. Not prior to the New Covenant so don't give me any Old Testament verses that sound similar.

It is absurd to say this religion holds to the same moral compass that Christians do.

It is all about doctrine, the individual Muslim does not define the faith just because he does good things here and there, no more than an adulterer is the poster child for Christianity.

Do other faiths, e.g. LDS, get the same privileged of worshiping the same god as Christians, or do we just bend the rule for those that would chop our heads off?


Anonymous said...

"The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom."
- Nostra Aetate, 3

Rome has spoken, the case is closed.

Anonymous said...

May freedom of religion prevail and human respect honored.

Michael said...

@ Anonymous 21:45

II John already spoke for the Church.

9Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.

Pay close attention to the part about- those that don't continue the teaching of Christ DO NOT HAVE GOD!

Are you saying the WORD of GOD can change? Do you always use one teaching to abrogate another?

I am looking for some sort of solution here and you guys are just ignoring the problem or pretending that you do not see it.


Michael said...

Does infallibility apply when speaking outside the "faith and morals" for Catholicism or does it extend out to being able to speak infallibly about all religions and their faiths and morals.? I guess my question is, can the Pope or the Magisterium even make an infallible comment or teaching regarding another faith?