Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, is planning to commemorate the 9th anniversary of September 11th by burning copies of the Qu’ran (Koran), which is regarded as the holy book for those who practice Islam. These intentions have horrified a great number of people. Many of them, including of course Muslims and also Bible-believing Christians, are no doubt sincere in their intense opposition to this event. Many others, however, are of course grandstanding hypocrites who passionately defend and take pleasure in similar attacks against Christianity and those who practice it. However, there is another group of hypocrites that figure prominently in this controversy, as they were the ones who laid the very groundwork for such a thing as this to happen with their words, doctrines and deeds. Many Christians involved in “religious right” politics are falling over themselves to denounce Jones and his actions as un-Christian, taking full advantage of the opportunity to publicly exhibit their opposition to bigotry. These religious right Christians have spent decades preaching the false gospel of what can be called “Americhristianity“, a syncretism of (false) Christianity and America worship. Realize this: Terry Jones is being consistent here. He is only practicing what his religion preaches, and so is the “Ameri-Christian” who commits a “hate crime” against a Muslim, illegal immigrant, abortion doctor, homosexual or what have you. For the religious right sorts to disseminate their idolatrous doctrines and then disavow the consequences is no different from the imam who preaches jihad and then distances himself from the suicide bomber. Now do not get me wrong, only a tiny percentage of Muslims commit violence based on their religious beliefs. But make no mistake: the same is true of Ameri-Christians.
This should not surprise anyone, as violence is a logical consequence of idolatry. A look at Romans 1:18-32 shows us the evil that following dead idols causes: being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful, etc. Muslims get angry over a Florida pastor burning a Qu’ran? Well, a Florida pastor received death threats from the Ameri-Christians in his own congregation over his removing the American flag from the pulpit! His motivation? Wanting the church to focus on Jesus Christ!
Time to rewind a bit. A lot of people have made false equivalence between burning Bibles and burning the Qu’ran. This is apples and oranges because where Christians merely respect and cherish Bibles, Muslims actually regard copies of the Qu’ran as holy. Essentially, to the Muslim, the Qu’ran is an idol. Christians have no such view of the Bible, because Christianity holds that only God is holy. Thus, the only way to be holy is through a connection to or relationship with God. Born-again Christians are hence holy because God grants us this status through Jesus Christ, and also because God’s Holy Spirit indwells the Christian. So, in Christianity, one commits no sin against anything holy by burning a Bible. Instead, the Christian commits a sin against that which is holy when he sins against his body by breaking God’s commandments to us (see 1 Corinthians 6:18). (Among those commandments? Not to be an idolater!)
So why the difference between the Christian view of the Bible and the Muslim view of the Qu’ran? Return to Romans 1:18-32. It tells us that early in the history of the human race, beginning with Adam and for a time thereafter, man knew God. Now this may give pause to Christians who are conditioned to see God’s being known to man, particularly in a special or religious sense, through Old Testament Judaism and Christianity. Please recall that the Bible is not a comprehensive history, but concentrates on that which is necessary for salvation. Also, the Bible does speak of those who had a relationship with him prior to the calling of Abraham, a group which includes Abel, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek and Job. The Bible says that men began to call upon the Name of Yahweh in Genesis 4:26. “Call upon the Name” means to worship. Now God had been worshiped prior to that, for remember Abel’s sacrifice, an act of worship that God accepted. Also, the divine Name Yahweh was already known to humanity at that time, as Eve used it in Genesis 4:1 on the occasion of Cain’s birth. So, whatever development that Genesis 4:26 is supposed to refer to exactly, it is clear that at that stage, humanity had knowledge of God by worshiping Him using God’s personal Name.
However, by Genesis 6, things had changed. The population of the earth increased, and man became extremely wicked. Mankind had perverted himself, and as a result the earth was filled with violence. The cause of this? Again, Romans 1:18-32 says that wicked imaginations, perverse natures and violence comes from idolatry, and it also strongly suggests that at this time mankind completely gave himself over to this practice. Verses 21-25 read:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Mankind ceased to worship God, the unseen Spirit, and instead worshiped creatures, meaning things that are created. This included the use of tangible, physical objects that represent entities or ideas – idols – in worship. And to the idolater, the creature, or its symbolic representative stand-in, is itself regarded as “holy”, and even may be considered to have magical or supernatural powers. If nothing else, the idol is a very valuable, cherished and beloved possession because of what it represents to its owner. So, mankind totally gave himself over to rejecting the holiness of the Creator in order to embrace the idea that things created – whether by God or man – were worthy of this reverent status instead.
Because this mindset was embedded in fallen humanity, God condescended to mankind’s status and incorporated some elements of it in the Sinai religion given by Moses to the Jews. Because of this, in Old Testament Judaism, certain days, holidays (or “holy days”), observances, places, objects and rituals were declared holy. However, we must realize that these things were so because God declared them to be as such. Also, God had His purposes. For instance, things that came into contact with God’s presence or were used in giving offerings to God had to be set apart and purified in order to teach Israel about God’s sinless nature and man’s sinfulness. Further, other things were declared holy because of Christological typology.
So what must be emphasized is that things like the temple, the altar, the ark of the covenant, the burnt offering tools etc. were not holy in and of themselves, but were only so because of their identification with God, their proximity to His presence and their use in His plan. It was never an endorsement of the idea that objects, places, rituals or even ideologies were to be considered holy, contained some spiritual or magical powers, imparted grace, and treated that such. So, when Jesus Christ fulfilled all things concerning the Sinai religion that was used as a schoolmaster to bring us to Him (Galatians 3:24-25) the idea of “holy things” ended. Evidence of this was the ripping of the veil of the temple.
However, the desire of people call things other than God holy did not end. As a consequence, Islam reveres not only its books, but its (alleged) prophet, buildings, cities (Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem), and even nations that are fully under Muslim control as holy. But the issue here is that it is not unique to Islam, but is also present in false versions of Christianity. Consider Catholicism (Roman and Orthodox) with its sacraments that according to their teachings impart grace, and its seemingly endless assortment of “saints”, icons, relics etc. that are targets of “veneration” because of some spiritual or mystical reason or other.
What does this have to do with Terry Jones? Well, his Ameri-Christianity is more of the same. His Qu’ran burning is not being done for theological reasons. If it were, he would also burn the Book of Mormon, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower Magazine, and articles from other false faiths. Instead, Jones is singling out the Qu’ran because he has bought into the right wing dogma that Islam constitutes some sort of threat to the American way of life. And since Ameri-Christianity is this blend of certain – but not all – Christian doctrines and some – but again not all – American ideas and traditions, in the eyes of the Ameri-Christian like Jones, an attack on one is an attack on the other.
Make no mistake, whether they support this Qu’ran burning of Jones or not, religious right Ameri-Christians worship the creature besides the Creator. This great nation of ours is but a creature. Further, as Old Testament Israel was the only nation to be created by God, it is a creation of men. And God did not create our institutions or system of laws as He did with Old Testament Israel. Instead, men created democracy (where the Bible only deals with monarchy and theocracy), men created capitalism (which did not even exist until the groundwork for it was accidentally laid by John Calvin), and men created the concept of individual and human rights (the result of Enlightenment philosophers’ taking portions of the Roman Catholic concept of natural law that they found useful and applying it to the secular arena). Ameri-Christians have taken these works of human hands to be the result of divine providence, and quite possibly even divine revelation, and therefore in their eyes to oppose them is to oppose God, and supporting them is part and parcel of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can turn on conservative talk radio – or even Christian radio – at any time and hear so many Christians profess “I believe in and support the Bible and the Constitution 100%” when the truth is that not only does one not have anything to do with the other, but that the worldviews of the Bible (divine revelation) and the Constitution (humanism and deism) are opposed. The Bible is the Word of God, the Constitution is the word of Caesar. Render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but give to God that which is God, and never shall the twain be intermixed!
Now again, let us go back to the Biblically established truth that idolatry leads to violence and apply it to Ameri-Christianity. How many Christians accept without question the idea that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were justified in order to protect the American way of life because it includes the ability to practice Christianity freely? How many of us even justify this concept with thinking like “America needs to remain free and prosperous so that American Christians will have the financial resources to sponsor missions and help the poor in third world countries.” Well dear Christians, the early church of Acts was neither free OR wealthy, yet they managed to evangelize the Roman Empire AND meet the needs of the poor!
Consider another example. How many Christians advocate – or would refuse to criticize – the killing of a robber that is only taking money or property and not physically endangering anyone? Truthfully, very few, because we have the conviction that “we have the right/responsibility to protect our private property.” Now do not err by bringing up the law given to Old Testament Israel concerning executing thieves. A person operating under New Testament doctrine knows that human life is more valuable than property, and that it is better to spare a thief in the hopes that he might hear the gospel down the line than to blow him away after the manner of some Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson movie. This is further evidence that mammon (possessions, “rights”, and the pleasures and passions that we obtain from them) is the true god of the Ameri-Christian.
Consider that such people live in fear of losing their freedoms, their rights and way of life. Well, what freedom, what rights does a slave have? What way of life does a slave enjoy except that which his master dictates? Now the legitimate Christian is a slave to Jesus Christ. The slave of Jesus Christ is able to find joy, peace, fulfillment and all else that he needs whether he is free prince in America or an oppressed pauper in Indonesia. Ameri-Christians reject slavery to Christ in favor of the idea of being their own masters. Being Christian is merely another lifestyle decision that they choose for themselves, and quite frankly they would find practicing Christianity under adverse or oppressive conditions to be more burdensome than liberating.
Thus, it would not surprise me the least if an Ameri-Christian is far more likely to suffer the experience of enduring living in a poor, oppressive overseas regime as a member of the military and therefore willing and ready to kill if ordered to do so by the creature than as a missionary sharing the gift of eternal life if ordered to do so by the Creator. To such a person, making such a lifestyle sacrifice in order to mete out death in defense of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is more agreeable than doing so in order to share the message of life and life more abundantly. And we can only imagine what such a person would think of the one who is a conscientious objector because of the teachings of Jesus Christ on the Sermon of the Mount! For the Ameri-Christian, “the American way of life” is morally and theologically prior to the New Testament.
This ideology is guilty of recognizing one of the main themes of the Sinai religion of the Old Testament. Consider the offering altar. It could only be made of earth, or of a single stone. It could not be made of hewn stone or constructed in any way, because the tools used to make the altar were unholy, and that which was holy was not allowed to mix or come in contact with that which was holy. That was a principle that held for everything and everyone that came into contact with God’s presence, or was used in making an offering to God. If anything common or regular came into contact with anything or anyone that was supposed to make an offering to God or be in God’s presence, then the thing that was supposed to be holy had to go through a purification process.
This was supposed to teach Christians that God is unique, separate and holy and cannot be mixed with or attached to anything worldly, common or unclean. That is what Ameri-Christianity does. It takes the worldly, common things (culture, economics, politics, ideology) and attempts to fuse it with the holiness of God’s Holy Spirit and presence. The result is something that is no longer clean, holy or spiritual, and hence no longer legitimately Christian. Think about that the next time that you hear someone declare that America is “a Christian nation.” Such a thing cannot exist, because it is a mixture of a common creature (America) with a Holy Creator. The very tools that were used to construct America defile it, making it an unworthy altar, and we cannot make an acceptable offering to God on an unclean altar that God rejects. Thus, the person who in any sense joins being American with being Christian is only capable of making an offering to God after the manner of Cain. And let us recall that this same Cain slew Abel, who made the acceptable offering.
And this is why the actions of one Terry Jones, and also of the many other religious right Ameri-Christians doing their best to distance themselves from him because being associated with them hurts their economy in the American political mainstream that they desire and need to remain relevant and powerful in, should be taken notice of. Again, Ameri-Christianity is idolatry. Idolatry leads to violence. And the primary target of idolatrous violence is going to be any non-idolaters that are available. As Galatians 4:29 tells us, those who are of the flesh persecute those who are of the spirit, just as Cain slew righteous Abel and Ishmael persecuted Isaac.
And remember the prediction of Jesus Christ in John 16:2! Can it be that Ameri-Christians may believe that by persecuting us for being “un-American” that they are doing God service? Consider the Glenn Beck rally, where not a few evangelical Ameri-Christians joined this dominionist crusader in his Mormonism worship rally. If the economic problems continue, illegal immigration persists and the American way is threatened by enemies like Iran and North Korea abroad and liberals at home, will the refusal to join ecumenical/interfaith Americanism movements be seen as a betrayal of God? Judging from Ameri-Christian David Barton, who states that we should “judge Beck by his fruits” (meaning his effective support of the religious right agenda), you can guess the answer. So, Christian, what are you going to do when the Ameri-Christian comes for you bearing chains and staves to deliver you to the authorities? Will you stand? Or will you wilt and refuse to profess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all?
That, of course, presumes that you are indeed a Christian and not an Ameri-Christian. Which are you? Today you must make your stand. If you worship God, worship Him only. If you worship Baal, worship Baal only. How long will you halt between two opinions? If you are on the Lord’s side, then flee the syncretism! Come out of Babylon and the abomination of her idols immediately! Otherwise, when Babylon falls – and she will fall – you will with her.
If you are unsaved and are not under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I urge you now
If you are saved, then here is a prayer. Father God in the Name of Jesus Christ, please lead and guide me so that I can discern that which is holy and that which is not so that I may follow the former, spurn the latter, and worship you only in spirit and in truth as you desire and require. Amen.