“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. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19:18-20)
An international outcry occurred after Terry Jones, the pastor of a church in the United States, the Dove World Outreach Center, said he planned to burn copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, on September 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of the Muslim terrorist attack on the United States, as a protest against Islam. He called this date “International Burn a Koran Day.” Supporters mailed him copies of the Koran for the burning. He was probably not expecting the furious worldwide reaction to his plan. Everyone from Islamic leaders, to the mainstream media, to actresses like Angelina Jolie (as if she has anything worthwhile to contribute about anything), to the Vatican, to various Protestant ministers, to Jewish rabbis, to social network sites, condemned him for this planned action.
But what is the correct Christian response to all of this? The Word of God shows us.
In the city of Ephesus, Paul preached the Gospel for a period of two years; “so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). And a large number of people believed the Gospel, trusted in Christ, and were saved from their sins, becoming Christians.
Now Ephesus was a centre of heathen and occult worship. This is what is meant by them using “curious arts”, in the text above: such things as magic, astrology, divination, soothsaying, necromancy, witchcraft, incantations, etc. Paul’s ministry among them had been the instrumental means (as is the ministry of all faithful ministers of Christ) “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18). Large numbers attended to the Gospel preached by Paul, and were saved from their sins by faith in Christ. And then they brought their false “holy books” and books of magic and tossed them onto the bonfire, as a demonstration of their total renunciation and repudiation of their former way of life, when they had been part of Satan’s kingdom and served him by means of these black arts. By throwing those occult books onto the bonfire, they were publicly declaring that God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).
It is very likely that Terry Jones had this very text in mind when he called for the burning of Korans on September 11. But in truth, his call was foolish, misguided, and futile. Here’s why:
Those who brought their books to be burned in Ephesus that day were ex-heathens who were now Christians, and we have seen what their motive was. It was a noble motive, and indeed, even today Christians could do the same thing. If, for example, in a particular place, by the preaching of the Gospel, many Muslims are converted – or Hindus, Mormons, Satanists, witches, Papists, or anyone else for that matter – they could bring together the “holy books” of the false religions they previously followed, and burn them in an act of public renunciation of their former ways as servants in the devil’s kingdom. They could burn their own copies of the Koran, or the Hindu scriptures, or the Book of Mormon, or the occult books of Satanism and witchcraft, or the books of devotion to Mary or the saints. In doing so, they would be testifying to the world that they no longer believed or followed those false religions, and wanted nothing more to do with them and their false teachings.