September 2010


Why Christians Should Not Burn Books

This outline, while 4 pages long, is not a complete study of this topic.  This is an outline God led me to develop as I searched His Word for answers and guidance about a specific issue.  This outline expresses what God is sharing with me through His Word and does not necessarily represent the faith and teachings of any church or religious organization.

This week the Dove World Outreach Center of Florida made the news because they are promoting a “International Burn a Koran Day” on their website, in their church and across the nation.

In the “About Us” section of their website they profess “Dove World Outreach Center is a New Testament Church – based on the Bible, the Word of God.”

My heart was broken by a “church” that professes to be based on the Bible and to be Christians could be so openly and actively violating the very Word of God in which they profess to be based. This led me to take a focused look at the scriptures and see what God says about this behavior.

This paper is a summary of what God revealed to me during this study.

  1. Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” ESV
    1. I doubt this group would be very open to a Mosque devoting a day to burning Bibles.
    2. How often do we get up on our “high horse” and forget this most basic principle of the Word of God.
    3. 1 Corinthians 13:4-14:2 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” ESV
      1. This text really spoke to me about this issue.
        1. i.     Love is patient and Kind.  Book burning is neither.
        2. ii.     While I have many areas of conflict with the Koran and the religious system that follows its teachings, I would never burn their book for any reason.
        3. iii.     I would consider the burning of any book that is thought to be important of valuable because you do not like it or follow it as “arrogant and rude”
        4. iv.     Through Faith I am able to live in a world of people who do not believe in the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
          1. The Word of God teaches that there are many who reject Christ and His Word so I am not surprised by unbelief.
      2. v.     When I ponder the Word “Love” from a Biblical perspective the definition God leads me to is “COMMITMENT”.
        1. God is so committed to you that He created a special place for you to live and grow on, provides for all of your needs and, after you rebelled against Him, sent His own Son to pay the price for your sins
        2. Jesus is so committed to you that He willingly gave His life for yours.
      3. vi.     A violent reaction to someone you disagree with is a childish reaction.
        1. This is the way 1st graders react to disagreement
        2. This is how bullies operate
        3. Grownups, those who are mature in self and faith, do not respond with violence.
        4. Maturity also teaches us to consider others and be aware of how our actions affect others and how our peers respond to our actions.
          1. If Americans are outraged by your actions perhaps you should reconsider those actions.
          2. If political leaders of all leanings can agree that your actions are wrong and are outraged then perhaps you should reconsider your actions.
          3. If Christians are outraged by your actions perhaps you should reconsider those actions.
          4. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” ESV
            1. God loves the world – even sinners and unbelievers
            2. God could have decided to simply annihilate unbelievers but He chose to love them instead and give them every opportunity for a relationship with Him
            3. While God has every reason and right to condemn the people who rebelled against Him and His Word, ridiculed Him, promote idolatry and sin, kill and martyr believers of His Work and killed His own son; God chose to love them instead of delete them.
            4. Christianity is not a religion of EXCLUSION it is a faith of INCLUSION.
              1. i.     Whoever will believe is welcome
              2. ii.     There is no religious test
              3. iii.     There is no citizenship test
              4. iv.     There is no heritage test
              5. v.     There is no ethnicity  test
              6. vi.     There is no behavior test
              7. vii.     There is no test except that you believe in God, His Son and His Word
  2. To burn a book, any book, creates adversity and separation, the Gospel cannot be shared to those you are openly driving away.
  3. Mark 13:9-11 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” ESV
    1. The Word of God teaches us that there will be many who will stand against us.
    2. We are to stand boldly on the Word of God and our faith.
    3. Our FIRST responsibility is to proclaim the Gospel
    4. Matthew 22:34-40 “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ESV
      1. We are to Love God above and beyond everything else
        1. i.     This means we are to be Committed to Him and His Word
  4. We are to love others just as we love ourselves
    1. i.     We are to have the same compassion for those we come beside of that we have for ourselves
    2. ii.     Remember the Golden Rule from above?  Treat others as we would want them to treat us?
    3. Mark 16:15-16 “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” ESV
      1. Our assignment is to proclaim the Gospel and we do well to obey this command
      2. Our assignment is not to condemn others
      3. We can and should take a strong stand for the Gospel
      4. We can and should proclaim the differences’ in our faith and why we believe we are right in our belief
      5. We can and should share the Gospel to everyone, including those religions that are in conflict with the Gospel
      6. We are responsible to God for our obedience, not theirs
      7. If they choose to reject the Gospel that is their choice, it is not ours to then burn their books.
      8. The Gospel is their to receive by faith or reject in unbelief.  They will have to answer for their choice.
      9. You are responsible for your faith and obedience, not theirs.
      10. Matthew 7:1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” ESV
        1. You are not wise enough or have the authority to judge them – that is God’s job
          1. i.     Allow Him to be God
          2. ii.     Final judgment is His alone
  5. You TOO are a sinner
    1. i.     You are far from perfect
    2. ii.     You sin against God daily
    3. iii.     Your sins are your problem; there are theirs.
  6. You have more than enough to do dealing with your own shortcomings, failures and problems without taking on the burden of theirs.
  7. In our Christian churches today there is more than enough failings to keep us from delving into the failings of other religions.
  8. We find it much easier to point fingers and shout about the problems of others while we try to keep our failings hidden.
    1. i.     They are not hidden from God!
    2. ii.     He knows your secret sins
  9. Deal with your own issues
    1. i.     When you are perfect THEN you can deal with others
    2. ii.     Since Jesus was the ONLY person to ever walk the face of this earth who was perfect, since we are ALL sinners, since we will never be perfect; you will NEVER have the opportunity to focus on the sins of others.  GET OVER IT!
    3. 1 John 1:5-10 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” ESV
      1. i.     Walk the path of light
      2. ii.     Measure your faith in Jesus Christ by your obedience to His Word and by the content of your character.
      3. iii.     I would submit, based on the scriptures referenced above and many, many more, that to burn books as an act of aggression, as an act of arrogance, as an act of anything, is a violation of God’s Word.
      4. iv.     Anyone who would walk in this darkness must reassess their actions and their love for God.
      5. v.     John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” ESV
      6. Hebrews 4:12-13 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” ESV
        1. God’s Word will expose the truth
        2. You may think you are right about something, but if you are violating God’s Word, especially while professing to represent His Word, God will expose your failure.

10.  1 Corinthians 10:23-25 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” ESV

  1. We have a constitutional guarantee of free speech.
  2. It is probably legal for you to burn Korans, Bibles, flag or other books as a form of free speech
  3. Just because you CAN do something does not mean it is RIGHT to do something.
  4. Christians are to do those things that honor and obey God as well as encourage others to Faith in Him.
  5. Book burning does none of these.

I firmly believe that the Word of God is very clear about the act of burning the Koran as promoted by the Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville, Florida is wrong and a Biblical violation.  It is my hope that they would repent of this action before they commit what I believe is a sin against God.

While I stand very strongly on the Gospel Message, I stand just as strongly against this type of violent behavior.

John 14:1-6  (Jesus speaking) “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ESV

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A third lesson we learn as we mature into adults is the difference between needs and wants.

Billions of dollars are spent in our country alone on the things we want, often at the expense of the things we need.  Prioritizing our spending is a mark of maturity.

I have traveled to a state that is in very bad economic condition, much worse than our beloved Texas.

Unemployment is in double digits, tax rates are astronomical, government entities are on the verge of bankruptcy, a high percentage of the citizens are on public support of one kind or another.  I listened to people, genuinely hurting, wondering how they will be able to feed their family next week or how they will make their next mortgage payment so they will only be two payments behind; while they are in line at Wal-Mart with a cart full of beer, cigarettes, DVD’s and junk food.

Look at it this way:  If you by a carton of Marlboro cigarettes at Sams Club you will pay $48.93 for the carton of ten packs.  This means each pack costs $4.893.  If you smoke 1 pack a day you could give yourself a $1,785.95 raise per year just by quitting. This money could meet a lot of NEEDS for your family.

Now expand that to other WANTS that you spend (waste) money on in your life.  Alcohol, drugs, junk food, jewelry, soda, candy, fancy finger nails, hand bags and sporty pickup trucks loaded with accessories (that never leave the pavement), and on and on.

I shudder when I think of how much money I have thrown away on my wants over the years.  The wealth I could have obtained by spending more maturely is staggering.  Unfortunately this money has been thrown away on “stuff” that does not exist today.

To answer the question in your mind, no I do not think these things are all bad or “sinful” things.  You will not go to hell because you ate a candy bar.  With few exceptions like drugs and alcohol, the problem is not in the items, their availability or their use.  They are legal to sell, own and use.  The problem comes in when we spend our money on them and are not able to pay our bills, feed our family, keep a roof over our heads or get the healthcare we need.  Money is not evil, greed and gluttony are.

Needs are those things we absolutely need to live and function in our world today.  Needs are basics:  food, water, clothing, shelter, transportation, health care and education.

I have witnessed far too many families where one or more members of the family are addicted to something and spends all of the families resources feeding their addiction while the family suffers from hunger, thirst and poverty.  The problem is not that the family is poor; the problem is that their resources are squandered on WANTS and not spent wisely on NEEDS.

If you are blessed to be able to meet your needs and still spend money on your wants then praise God.  You are not a bad person because you can afford a new vehicle or a big screen TV.

Maturity leads us to take care of our needs first, return a small part of what God has given us to Him through a local church, use a portion of our funds to help the less fortunate, put some resources away for retirement or a “rainy day” and then plan our spending for the extra’s of life.

Learn the lesson of what your wants are and what your needs really are and use your resources wisely and you will be well on the way to maturity.

In Luke 15 of the Bible we find the story of a young man who wasted all of his riches on wild living and buying friends, and found himself broke, working as a pig farmer and wishing he could eat the pig’s food because they ate better than he did.  This young man learned the lesson of what are needs and what are wants and returned to what he learned was really most important:  family.  He hoped that if his father would just hire him as an employee his needs would once again be met.  This “prodigal son” found restoration in his father’s arms.  He was blessed.

If you have made some immature spending choices, or life choices; you too can find restoration, forgiveness and hope in the arms of God.

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  ESV