Friday, August 27, 2010

Dove does not bring peace

Thanks to the incredibly well-informed eChurch Christian Blog for putting the spotlight on the Qur'an-burning church in Florida. Today's post on that blog highlights the way in which their actions are endangering the lives of Christians in Islamic parts of the world.

As another example of when biblical Christianity goes bad (see my previous post of that title), I invite you to explore the website of the book-burning church, the inappropriately named Dove World Outreach Centre. While there might be some comic elements about it (Q: "why would we put up a sign like this?" A: is it because you don't own a ruler or have any grasp of the proper use of capital letters?) this is actually in a different league to the curious madness of the Latter Rain Ministries. Dove is nasty.

Quite apart from frothing at the mouth at their own local authorities for refusing them a "burn permit" (what?), this church seems to be intent on defining itself by what it opposes, rather than what it stands for. Cynics might say that "Dr. Terry" sees a chance to make a name for himself here, and they are probably right.

Some might be thinking that I should not waste my time criticising a group of fellow Christians when they are, after all, taking a stand against a religion whose faith we do not share. Well yes, and then again, no. Which is worse, a group of people who don't believe in Christ, or a group who say that they do, but bring his name into disrepute?

Dove cite Acts 19:17-20 as a biblical precedent for their burning stunt. Some of Paul's converts in Ephesus burned their "sorcerer's scrolls". But the key word there is "converts". They burned the scrolls after they became Christians. Paul didn't grab the scrolls and burn them before he had preached the gospel. Nor would he, who quoted Philosophy to the Athenians and was "all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some" [1 Corinthians 9:22]. If the Qur'an had been around in the first century, Paul would have been studying it and and debating it with Muslims, not burning it. In this he was just following the example of Jesus, who went to extraordinary lengths to reach out to the people that his co-religionists found despicable, and saved his most fiery words for the people who shared his beliefs, but failed to shaped their lives by them.

The problem with churches like Dove is that they have forgotten about grace. The teaching of Jesus and Paul, and the whole logic of the gospel, is grace first, then any repentance or changes of life second. You're not going to win anyone to Christ by telling them their beliefs are evil or their life is wicked. You just make yourself feel better at their expense. Our real calling is to bring them to the place where they can meet with Christ and know his grace, and he does the rest.

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