An Open Letter to Terry Jones (Dove World Outreach Center, Gainesville, Florida)

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Mr. Jones,

You may not remember me, but I certainly remember you. Many years ago I was on the Missionary Board of Dove Charismatic Ministries, run by your predecessor and mentor, Dr. Donald Northrup. My wife and I visited your ministry in Cologne, Germany, for a ten day period in October of 1986. Back then you were a passionate Pastor and street preacher bound and determined to make an impact on the nation of Germany. I had a lot of admiration for you and those who served under your leadership. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed back then that you would have stepped onto the world stage and publically burn a book which many consider to be sacred. I cannot help but wonder what happened that caused you, a man so previously passionate about bringing the Light, to suddenly become so preoccupied with cursing the darkness.

Six months ago, when you first threatened to burn the Quran, you were quoted as saying “Jesus didn’t run around burning books, but I think He would have burned this one.” What, exactly, was your basis for that statement? In 2009 I read the New Testament through twelve times in twelve different versions. Never once did I see any indication of Jesus, or His followers for that matter, exhorting Christians to burn books belonging to other religions. The only book burning I found recorded in the New Testament was in Acts 19:19 where those previously involved in the occult were burning their magic books and occult paraphernalia because they had become followers of the Lord Jesus. This didn’t happen because the apostle Paul burned one of their books in the public square. The burning of the books took place as a result of the Paul preaching the Gospel among the people in the power of signs and wonders (Acts 19:8 – 12).

Instead of railing against other religions, the Lord Jesus took their sins upon Himself and died in their place so that they might come to have eternal life. Does your burning of the Quran demonstrate the same Spirit as our Lord?

Mr. Jones, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it was you hoped to accomplish. You were quoted as saying you wanted to call attention to the violent undertones of the Islamic faith; that you wanted to expose the violent nature of the book that called for the deaths of those who do not embrace Islam. Did you really think the rest of us didn’t know? History well records the violence done by Muslim extremists against those outside their faith. (To my shame I also have to admit that history also records the violence of “Christians” against others of different religions.) I really do not believe you were telling us something we were not already aware of.

On the whole, sir, I think your actions were completely superfluous as to their intended purpose. Let us take a closer look at what you actually accomplished and see what we come up with.

· Did your burning of the Quran lift up and exalt the Name of Jesus? No.

· Was even one Muslim converted to Christianity as a result of your actions? No.

· Was the influence of the Quran reduced even one fraction of a percent by you publicly burning a copy of it? No.

· Did your actions aid the missionary enterprise in the world at large? No.

· Did your actions produce better relations between the United States and the Middle Eastern countries? No.

On the other hand, no action is ever without consequences. Mr. Jones, here is an actual list of what you accomplished by burning the Quran:

· Christians in the West were made to look like hate filled bigots.

· Muslim people all over the world were outraged by your actions.

· Relations between the United States and the Middle East were strained.

· The lives of Christian missionaries everywhere were put at risk, especially those serving in Middle Eastern countries.

· Precious Middle Eastern Christians were persecuted and even killed in retaliation for your burning of the Quran.

I am personal friends with individuals who have close ties with the Middle East. For security reasons I cannot name them or disclose the nature of their contacts (I will say, however, that one of them used to minister with Dr. Northrup). They informed me recently that an entire village in Afghanistan was wiped out by Muslim extremists. Other Christian brothers and sisters are being jailed and tortured in various Middle Eastern countries. Why is all this going on? Because Terry Jones decided it was a good idea to burn a copy of the Quran. (I find this particularly odd in light of the fact you emphatically stated you and your church would never burn a Quran.)

The Christian Post recently quoted you as saying you were not responsible for the violence done against Christians in the Middle East. Really? You, yourself, also said that Muslim extremists were using your burning of the Quran as an excuse to carry out their violent acts. While that may be true, it was still you that provided them with the excuse. That alone makes you at least partly responsible. Whether you accept that responsibility or not is another thing.

Let me ask you, Terry, if just one Christian died because of your actions, would it still be worth it? Or would their death merely serve to prove your point (collateral damage)?

Mr. Jones, you put the Quran “on trial,” found it guilty, and burned it. Even a cursory examination reveals this to be a wholly nonsensical act with less than stellar results. Unfortunately you implicated the rest of us who follow Christ as well. Guilt by association! How are we to now respond to you?

Terry Jones, I would like to add my voice to the many others calling upon you to prayerfully reconsider what you have done. I would like to go one step further. I beg of you, Terry, please return to your roots. Please go back to the days when you were so preoccupied with lifting up Jesus that nothing else mattered. Don’t waste your time preaching against others and their beliefs. Preach Jesus! When presented as He truly is, He is attractive enough to draw men to Himself from every kindred, tribe, tongue, people, and nation.

Mr. Jones, may God forgive you for the unfortunate choice you made and the results it reaped. May Christian Brothers and Sisters the world over forgive you for implicating them in your actions. May the choices you make in the future better serve the cause of Jesus our King.

Kindest regards,

M

2 comments

  1. Thanks Mac for this passionate graceful letter of appeal to Terry Jones. When we fail to lift up Jesus to all humankind he cannot draw all unto Himself through us. It is incredible when the ideology of the gospel becomes contaminated with human hatred laced rhetoric. Calling people to come into relationship with God employing accusative methodology will lead to disappointment and less impactfulness than it could be. May God help us all to reach out in mercy seasoned with grace, God’s grace.

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