Follow this link to a public response of the faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary to the sad and frustrating attention being given to one extreme “evangelical” pastor calling for the burning of the Koran.
Apart from the content of the response which is dispassionate and sensible, we can learn a great deal from the APPROACH taken. Two things stand out:
1. The authors of this response have shown great respect to the pastor and his flock by actually READING and interacting with what he has written and said, and not relying on the media distortions of what he MIGHT have written or said. This should always be our policy. Listen before we speak.
Christians have, for example, taken President Obama to task for his ‘support’ of the proposed NYC mosque. But how many took the time to READ what he actually said? (You can do so here.)
This is an important principle. If we are going to be critical, we should exercise great humility in doing so, especially if we have not directly interacted with what we criticize.
2. The authors practice a principle of gospel peace by finding all they can to affirm before they turn their guns to critique. This is so rare, and sadly rare among Gospel believing Christians. There is truth to affirm in a bad movie, in an awful hymn, in a questionable pastoral position, and yes, in a president with whom some have frequent disagreements. To affirm what we can before we critique is merely to practice what we have come to know as the Golden Rule. How many of us want to burn Terry McCoy as viciously as he wants to burn the Koran? We must always find what we can affirm before we criticize.
So, this is an important statement not only for its content but also for its approach. I hope we, at least, learn from it.