Fahrenheit 9-11 (no, not the Michael Moore film)

I would like, as a Christian, to disassociate myself from this guy, whose great idea to commemorate 9-11 is to organise Koran burnings. As you’d imagine, this hasn’t gone down well, leading to Pastor Jones being burned in effigy in Kabul and everyone from Tony Blair to President Obama weighing in on things (and I suspect the line from that BBC report that goes "Mr. Jones had told USA Today he could potentially cancel his plans if officials spoke to him directly" is the most telling). Let’s put it this way – the Dove World Outreach Centre has 50 members, which is roughly comparable with my church, and we’ve never made international headlines. Maybe we should set fire to Richard Dawkins books.

I suspect Mr. Jones would think I’m soft and a woolly liberal. It’s entirely possible I am, but I believe the cardinal virtues of Christianity are grace, love and compassion. I have absolutely no problem with disagreeing with people theologically – nothing wrong with healthy debate – but burning a holy book? That’s not displaying love. That’s not how Christ would act (I’d point out that Jesus tended to save his real onslaughts for those who were in his spiritual camp but who had somehow started to major in hypocrisy and legalism at the expense of compassion). Organised biblioclasm isn’t going to achieve anything other than headlines for Mr. Jones, and is hardly the way to remember those who died on September 11.

But this is what happens when your flag is bigger than your cross, and when anger and fear and retribution become your watchwords. And when that happens, expect trouble; expect trouble, because that’s what some people want. Because despite what some might say, they prefer hatred to grace. But that’s not the way of Christ.

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