In the Lord’s Army

Pastor Terry Jones has General David Petraeus worried. Jones, and his congregants at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida intend to hold an old-fashioned book burning. The bonfire is intended to commemorate those who lost their lives in the attack on 9-11, and, most importantly, to ignite a faith in Jesus among Muslims.

This is not the first time fire has been used as a tool by combatants in the Lord’s Army. Petraeus, who’s got no beef with Jesus, is rightly concerned about Jones’s plans to burn copies of the Koran as a means ministering the true message of Christ.

Petraeus said Monday that if Jones and his posse follow through with their plans to host a burning of the Holy Word of Islam, they could incite acts of violence toward U.S. Troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban will use such a demonstration for propaganda purposes, Petraeus predicted.

“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort,” he warned. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”

But Jones remains resolute – he isn’t budging. “We must send a clear message to the radical element of Islam. We will no longer be controlled and dominated by their fears and threats.”

It’s a good old-fashioned case of tit-for-tat. We refuse to be controlled and dominated by the fears and threats of radical Islamics; instead, we’ll be controlled and manipulated by the fears and threats of our own choosing, thank you very much.  “Islam is of the devil”  t-shirts can be purchased on the church’s website, along with a book Jones penned himself titled with the same catchy phrase.

To his credit, Jones insists that he loves Muslims – he just takes issue with their religion. It is Jones’s sincerest hope that burning the Koran will hopefully persuade those Muslims he loves to see that the Koran is a “book of lies and that the only true salvation is in Jesus.”

Yeah, buddy, because acting the fool and ticking people off has always been an effective evangelical tool. Dove World Outreach considers itself a New Testament Church, which is odd, considering: Where exactly is it in the Scriptures that Jesus urged his followers to intimidate and demean others?

But lest you discount Jones as another backwoods Southern preacher, you should know that he is fully aware that his methodology isn’t going to be to everyone’s liking. In fact, Jones expects that burning the Koran will rile some folks up. Petraeus may very well be right — those offended by Jones’s actions may come looking for a fight.

“Islam has proven itself to be a violent religion and Mohammed promoted violence in the Koran,” Jones said.

Granted, all this posturing can be a tad confusing. It’s downright discombobulating, trying to separate the good guys from the bad guys when the good guys are the ones carrying the gasoline can. You kind of expect it to be the other way around, don’t you?

A good rule of thumb to remember is that the good guys carrying the torch always claim that Jesus has got their back.

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