Idols for Destruction: Burning Books and the Things They Represent
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Idols for Destruction: Burning Books and the Things They Represent
Copyright © April 6,2011 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.
And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed
their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts
brought their books together, and burned them before all
[men]: and they counted the price of them, and found
[it] fifty thousand [pieces] of silver. ĖActs 19:18 & 19.
On March 20th, 2011, Florida pastor Terry Jones decided it
was time to bait the media a bit more in what
appeared to be political or theological posturing for
attention rather than an attempt at evangelism. The
wrath and condemnation of the Western World came down
against him, even charging him with blood on his hands.
How dare he be so brash as to exercise his American
freedom, burning a book that belonged to all people
(even though it was bought and paid for with his own
(or his churchís) money.
Soon thereafter, on April 1st, Muslim extremists in
Afghanistan decided to do some posturing of their own,
attacking a United Nations base and killing twelve people,
merely because they were offended by the actions of Terry
Jones and Co. Of course, the news media reasoned, those
deaths were the Florida pastor's fault, and not the
responsibility of the murderous thugs! Talk about a
cruel April Fool's joke; but those are the kind of games
the left wing media like to play.
The hypocrisy of the American news media becomes clear
when we recall that in 2009 our military burned
dozens of Christian Bibles intended for distribution in
Afghanistan bcause we didn't want to appear to be
proselytizing. For this, see the UPI article at:
It is odd when we are mortified that a scattered bunch
of radical Muslims might be offended by one eccentric
pastor's decision to burn their sacred book. No one,
however, is the least concerned that millions of Christians
in our own country and more around the world may be put
off by the same sort of action toward their holy book!
As a Christian I find no need to go rioting in the
streets, burn effigies of our president, or desecrate
our flag. I have no desire to kill "infidels" just
because they donít like my country, or hate my
faith and my God, or because they despise the Book
that I believe is the very Word of God. I also donít
see any reason to burn Korans or the Bhagavad-Gita,
or the Book of Mormon just because they
represent ideologies that I consider deceptive.
Acts such as these show unfortunate insensitivity
towards others who differ in worldviews from my own.
In those same sorts of ways the Florida pastor and
his congregation displayed a disregard for the values
of the Muslim worldview. I may not appreciate their
ideology, but I can't possibly hope to win them by
Christian apologetics does not in any way require a
believer to be overtly antagonistic toward other
religions. Even the great Apostle Paul recognized the
positive values of ancient Greek religious poets when
he quoted them on Mars Hill before the Athenians!
No doubt the message of Jesus is one of absolute and
uncompromising discipleship. But that is quite the
opposite of destroying things that are held sacred by
others merely for the sake of political or religious
posturing. The false-witnesses who spoke against Jesus
in His trial before the High Priest Caiphus (Mark 14),
claimed that Jesus said He would literally tear down
the revered Jewish temple, when in reality, he had
spoken clearly enough about His own death and
In the Acts chapter 19 passage above, we read about
an early case of book burning that took place in the
ancient Christian community of Ephesus. It is obvious
from the context that the people burning the
books (probably books of magical incantations, etc.)
were folks who had just recently converted to Christ
from the pagan community to which those books had
Acts 19:11-20 is the whole context. There we see
that Jewish exorcists had made an attempt to cast
out demons by adjuring the spirit using the name of
Jesus, as if the name were a sort of Talisman, or had
magic powers. Their mistake became evident when the
demon spirit retaliated against them.
This event caused many in Ephesus to recognize the
true authority of Paulís message, and many were converted.
As an act of their personal faith in Christ they gathered
up their no longer needed, or wanted, books of witchcraft
and publicly burned them. They were not burning books
just to make a statement against their neighbors.
This was not a political event for the new converts
in Ephesus. This was a personal act of faith in their
new Savior Jesus Christ. It was the personal and conscious
immolation of the things that represented their lives
prior to their salvation. It was literally a burning
down of all the former things that their lives were
previously bound by and a stepping forward into their
new faith in Christ.
I am sure that when the church actively preaches the
message of the Kingdom of God in this world, we do not
need to antagonize the worldviews of our opponents.
When the Gospel is proclaimed, as it was in Ephesus,
converts are made, and the fear of God dispels the
darkness of former lives and displaces the need for
I donít need to burn the sacred books, or tear down
the temples of idols, or become an iconoclast. If I
am really preaching the message of Christ crucified,
and our resurrection with Him to newness of life than
I donít need to do any of those sorts of things. The
converted will do the job themselves!
Stop and think about what you know of mission work
amongst indigenous tribes in Africa, or Irian Jaya.
When the people receive the Gospel, the first thing
they do is put clothes on! No one has to tell them
this is what they need to do! It just comes
automatically when the Holy Spirit changes the heart.
Idolatry, witchcraft, murder, envy, hatred and enmity
all disappear when the Word of God comes into a
person's life. "The entrance of thy Word gives light."
(Psalm 119:130). There is no need for religious or
political posturing against our opponents. It is enough
that Jesus Christ has "disarmed principalities and
powers...[making] a spectacle of them, triumphing over
them in it (the cross)." Col 2:15. Jesus' message did
more than merely burn books in Ephesus. It openly
displayed power over, and subjugated, the demonic powers
that had, until then, held the Ephesians bound.
Inevitably all of heaven and earth will one day
declare that Jesus Christ is Lord (Romans 14:10-12
with Philippians 2:10,11). The graven image of the
Philistine god Dagon fell down flat before the Ark
of the Covenant and its head and hands were broken off
(1 Sam 5:1-5). In like manner, idols for destruction
always fall in the presence of the King of kings and
Lord of lords.
Doug Jerving is the publisher of the NewEdisonGazette.com. You may contact him at
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