But what is the difference between emulating the believers of Acts 19:18-20, and what this pastor called for? The difference is this: he did not call for ex-Muslims, now converted to Christ, to burn their own copies of the Koran to show that they had renounced Islam, but for people everywhere to obtain copies of the Koran for burning to protest the Muslim terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. His Koran-burning call was a protest against Islamic terrorism, particularly against America. And as such it was foolish, misguided, and futile. It was foolish and misguided, firstly, because there are no biblical grounds for such a protest, and secondly, because it entirely misses the point of Acts 19. And it was futile, because in no way whatsoever would such Koran-burning prevent the spread of Islam. No matter how many copies of the Koran are burned, it is a mere drop in the ocean: there are multiplied millions of copies of the Koran in circulation worldwide. Even if thousands of churches around the world were misguided enough to hold Koran-burning bonfires for the reason this man wanted it done, it would make no difference whatsoever to the global spread of Islam or to Islamic terrorism. It was an utterly futile and foolish call that could not, by any stretch of the imagination, accomplish anything worthwhile.
But that being said, let us examine the argument that something should not be done “because Muslims will be offended.” Christians must be very wise here. We are not to deliberately give unnecessary offence to anyone, it is true; because this shuts the door to opportunities for witnessing and preaching to the lost: “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:32,33). And just gathering up Korans willy-nilly and setting them alight is an act of unnecessary offence. It serves no good purpose. However, when it comes to preaching the Gospel, and standing for Christ, this must be done boldly, without compromise, without watering down the message, without yielding an inch to the enemies of the truth; and if this causes offence to any, then so be it. And if ex-Muslims, converted to Christ, burn their own copies of the Koran as a witness of renunciation of Islam, in the way described in Acts 19, this is something Christians can support – even though it offends Muslims. The Koran is a holy book to Muslims, but it is not a holy book to Christians, and in fact we hold it to have been born out of the smoke of the bottomless pit (Rev. 9:2). Islam is a hellish delusion, as all false religion is, and no Christian has any respect for it, nor for its so-called “holy book.” Christians believe in religious toleration, and will never harm someone who follows a false religion; but that is a far cry from respecting Satan’s religions. We have no respect for them at all, and we long for men and women to be set free from bondage to them. For this reason we preach to the adherents of false religions, that they may repent of their sins, including the great sin of worshipping false gods, and be saved from their sins by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Doubtless the practitioners of the “curious arts” were furious at the burning of their “holy books” by the new converts to Christ in Ephesus. But that did not deter the Christians from doing so! It was highly offensive to the Ephesian silversmiths who made shrines to the heathen goddess Diana that Paul “persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands” (Acts 19:26); but that did not deter Paul from preaching precisely that. We are not to water down the Gospel because followers of false religions find it “offensive”.
If, like the politically-correct, liberal, leftist, spineless “christians” who swarm everywhere these days, those who are the Lord’s true servants will only say or do something if it doesn’t “offend” someone, our hands will be tied so that we cannot serve our Lord, and our mouths will be gagged so that we cannot preach His Word. And worse yet, the gags and bonds will be self-applied – through fear! Imagine that – being so afraid of the devil’s servants that we voluntarily gag our mouths and tie our hands behind our backs, to avoid offending any of them!