By Doug Newman
Last September, a Gainesville, Florida preacher made a pluperfect gluteus maximus of himself when he threatened to burn copies of Koran on September 11. Even though he would change his mind as the scheduled burning drew closer, millions of Christians were extremely vocal on both sides of the issue.
This is not about the First Amendment, which rightfully protects all sorts of gratuitous publicity stunts. The proposed burning was a horribly bad witness for Christianity.
Many of the same Christians who were so animated about the Florida episode have been quiet about a much bigger outrage: the U.S. military burning Bibles in Afghanistan in the spring of 2009.
Jesus Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20 – states:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
A few observations:
1) It does NOT say “bomb the crap out of countries that haven’t done anything to you and kill countless thousands of innocents.” The proper, moral, constitutional response to things like piracy and terrorism is a Letter of Marque and Reprisal. This is a sort of warrant to go after the specific perpetrators of crimes like this. There is no reason whatsoever for a massive decade-long American troop presence in Afghanistan.
2) According to the above video, an American church had sent bibles printed in Dari and Pashtun, the two major languages of Afghanistan, to soldiers in Afghanistan. American officials had become concerned that these bibles would be used to convert Afghan Muslims to Christianity. U.S. Central Command’s General Order 1 forbids “proselytizing of any faith, religion or practice.” An American official expressed concern that such evangelizing could “promote a violent backlash” among Afghan Muslims. (As if the presence of American troops in the Muslim world has never gotten anyone’s dander up.)
3) Ultimately these Bibles were burned in the name of “force protection.” (As if putting troops in harm’s way doesn’t endanger them enough already.)
4) The Message of Jesus Christ, by its very definition, is supposed to shake things up – Luke 23:2, Acts 17:6-8. The New Testament talks endlessly about evangelizing, while saying nothing about joining any imperial legion.
5) This is not an isolated incident. Be they soldiers in Afghanistan, school teachers in Indiana or whatever, Christians are being called more and more to make very tough decisions about who to serve. (1) It is all part of the ramp-up to the Great Tribulation.
Christians cannot serve two masters – Matthew 6:24. When Christians disregard their faith to serve Cesar, they become like the chief priests who were asked by Pilate “Shall I crucify your King?” They answered, “We have no king but Cesar.” – John 19:15.
(1) I am not telling anyone to quit their job or break their enlistment contract tomorrow morning. That is not my call. Rather, there will be a decision point for all of us. If you are truly led by the Holy Spirit, you will know what to do and when to do it. Scripture is very clear as to what we should do and where we shall place our faith – Matthew 6:33.
Update: The State Department reported on October 10, 2011 that , as of March, 2010, there were no more Christian churches in Afghanistan. Somehow, I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind when He said in Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” ______________________________________________