John Piper Compares Quran Burning to Crucifying Christ

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MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
What do you all think Piper's comparison? On one hand, I think I can see what he's trying to portray, but on the other, I can see where the comparison breaks down, and how it could be misunderstood.


Highly respected evangelical pastor John Piper made a startling yet insightful comment Tuesday when he compared the burning of the Islamic holy book to crucifying Christ.
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His comment comes amid reports that at least 24 people have died, including seven United Nations employees, in Afghanistan since Friday over the burning of the Quran by a fringe Florida pastor in March.

To help explain Muslims’ violent rage over the Quran burning, Piper cited the writing of U.K. scholar Andrew Walls, founder of the Center for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, in his book The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History.

In the book, Walls highlighted that a difference between Islam and Christianity is that one is readily translatable while the other resists translation.

“Islamic absolutes are fixed in a particular language, and in the conditions of a particular period of human history. The divine Word is the Quran, fixed in heaven forever in Arabic, the language of original revelation,” wrote Walls. “For Christians, however, the divine Word is translatable, infinitely translatable.”

“Much misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims has arisen from the assumption that the Quran is for Muslims what the Bible is for Christians,” wrote Walls, who was one of the first scholars to study the global church shift away from the West. “It would be truer to say that the Quran is for Muslims what Christ is for Christians.”

Order Online: Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

Piper caught this last line and concluded that the parallel between Christianity and Islam is not of Christ to Muslim prophet Muhammad and the Quran to the Bible. Rather, the Quran parallels Christ.

“The giving of the Quran is in Islam what the incarnation of Christ is to Christianity,” asserted Piper in a blog posting on the Desiring God website. “If this is so, then Quran-burning is parallel to Christ-crucifying.”

Afghanistan's current Quran-related violence was sparked when Florida pastor Terry Jones and preacher Wayne Sapp put the Islamic holy book on a mock trial on March 20 and found it “guilty of causing murder, rape and terrorism.” As punishment, the Quran was burned.

There was intentionally little U.S. media coverage of the Quran burning. But news of the desecration of the Islamic holy book soon made it to Afghanistan and Pakistan over the Internet. Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke out against the burning of the Quran and called on the U.S. government to prosecute those responsible. Eight days after Karzai condemned the Quran burning as “disrespectful and abhorrent,” violent protests broke out.

On April 1, hundreds of angry Afghans marched to the U.N. missions headquarters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif after Friday prayers and attacked the guards and fired at the embassy. Nearly a week later, protests are still erupting in Afghanistan over what two American preachers did to the Quran.

Piper in his blog post maintained that the burning of the Quran is not the moral equivalent of murdering human beings. But he noted that understanding the parallel between Christianity and Islam helps explain why Muslims are so outraged.

However, the Minnesota pastor also pointed out the difference between how Islam and Christianity teach their followers to react when the Quran is desecrated or Christ is crucified. Even when Jesus faced crucifixion, he condemned violence. Jesus rebuked one of his followers for using the sword (Matthew 26:52), healed the ear of his enemy that was cut off (Luke 22:51), prayed for the forgiveness of those who killed him (Luke 23:34), and taught his disciples to love their enemies (Luke 6:27), Piper pointed out.

“So the Quran has been burned and the Christ has been crucified – and continues to be crucified,” Piper wrote. “The test is in the response.”

John Piper Compares Quran Burning to Crucifying Christ, Christian News, The Christian Post

My thoughts:

1. Book burning does not have the widespread cross-cultural horrific stigma that crucifixion did.

2. There's no prophecy that the Qur'an had to be burned.

3. The ashes of the burnt Qur'ans will still be in the ground three days later...

Perhaps Piper should had said, the cross would be like the Muslims burning their own Qur'ans
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
I think Piper's just giving us a rationale for why this incites strong anger from the Muslims. He is not himself saying that the two are equal events, but that is how the Muslims see it.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
The point of the Incarnation was the Cross. I don't think this comparison is helpful at all.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The point of the Incarnation was the Cross. I don't think this comparison is helpful at all.

Yes; also Christians glory in the cross of Christ, and have traditionally made no question over burning the relics of their false religion.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
The parallel is in the condescension of God, whether real or perceived. While God condescended and dwelled with man in the person of Christ, Muslims are suffering under the delusion that God has condescended to meet with man in the book of the Qur'an. Christ is also the vehicle of justification, just as the Muslim is convinced the Qur'an is the vehicle of justification. While their beliefs are entirely false, their anger is understandable. In other words, the logic is sound, the premises are false.
 

bpkantor

Puritan Board Freshman
It is always very important with analogies, parables, etc. to only understand what truth they come to express. The truth Pastor Piper is trying to express through this analogy is one (as I see it):

It seems as though he is using the analogy to try and help his readers to understand what and why the Muslims are feeling what they are. I don't think he is trying to assert any more than that. I think he is just trying to get his Christian readers to understand how Muslims see the Qu'ran. Of course it is not a perfect analogy (no analogy ever is nor can it be) and if you try and expand it to more than just that general idea it is going to fall apart (as all analogies would when you expand them beyond their main truth).

I think he is just saying this: "Muslims don't view the Qu'ran like the bible. They don't think it is just a book. Therefore the way they feel is not as though one has destroyed their religious document but rather one has hurt/burnt/desecrated something divine."

I think that is all he was saying. I am sure that Pastor Piper would agree with the objections made in this thread as to why it is not a perfect analogy and assert that he didn't intend for it to be taken with wide application. I think he just wants to bring to western Christians a little bit of the Muslim understanding so that we can better understand their response.

There is, I think, debate in Islam regarding the divinity of the Qu'ran. Did the Qu'ran exist forever and is it divine? (these are questions that are discussed)

Anyways, I agree with your guys' points, I just don't think Pastor Piper intended for this analogy to do anything more than help us to see how Muslims regard their book as divine.

God bless,
--Ben
 

TomVols

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't think Piper's words cheapen the cross.

Here's my question: they say these deaths are attributable to the Koran burning. How do we know this? It's not like they weren't killing Christians before this. You hear the same thing about certain American actions provoking Islamic anger - though not completely without merit - but even a casual reading of history shows that it's not like the Muslims didn't have an axe to grind long before 1980 or the 1st Gulf War, etc.
 

Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
We may wish to qualify Mr. Pipers comments for him, but the fact remains that he still wrote,

“If this is so, then Quran-burning is parallel to Christ-crucifying.”.

Scripture is clear that the world’s religion is in no way parallel to true religion. The philosophy of Christ and the philosophy of the world are antithetical not parallel. So until Mr. Piper rescinds or qualifies his own comments we must take him at his own word.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
What Piper is attempting to say is that the act of crucifying Christ is the closest that Christianity comes to how Islam views burning the Q'uran. That is to say, the Q'uran, for a Muslim, is as close as they get to an incarnation. Further, since in Islam, there is no notion of forgiveness, the only proper response is anger and revenge. There is no notion of expiation of sins through a vicarious sufferer, or even of redemption through suffering, except, of course, in Jihad.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
We may wish to qualify Mr. Pipers comments for him, but the fact remains that he still wrote,

“If this is so, then Quran-burning is parallel to Christ-crucifying.”.

Scripture is clear that the world’s religion is in no way parallel to true religion. The philosophy of Christ and the philosophy of the world are antithetical not parallel. So until Mr. Piper rescinds or qualifies his own comments we must take him at his own word.
Do you seriously get from Piper's words alone that he believes that Islam and Christianity are parallels? He is telling us what they think. To them, it is as if we were crucifying God. I get that just from reading the OP. I AM taking him at his word.
 

ac7k

Puritan Board Freshman
I agree that Piper is trying to show what they think...

They believe that the Quran is the revelation from God, where we believe that Jesus Christ is the revelation from God. In that sense as a matter of thought, burning the Quran to them is the same as crucifying Christ is to us.

Regardless of their error, it does explain their passion towards the issue.
 

torstar

Puritan Board Sophomore
If you want to take a stick and knock down a hornet nest by all means go ahead, but please first make sure that nobody else will get hurt by your actions.

And if you do it in a way that other people get badly hurt, please don't stand there going "duh........ I didn't know there would be any pain from this."
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
We may wish to qualify Mr. Pipers comments for him, but the fact remains that he still wrote,

“If this is so, then Quran-burning is parallel to Christ-crucifying.”.

Scripture is clear that the world’s religion is in no way parallel to true religion. The philosophy of Christ and the philosophy of the world are antithetical not parallel. So until Mr. Piper rescinds or qualifies his own comments we must take him at his own word.

His words need no qualification. What he was saying is extremely clear to me. I re-worded it to allow others who may have misunderstood to correct their misunderstanding.

Piper never once claims that Islam is a valid religion and that's not a necessary conclusion from what he said. He is pointing out that, logically, they are mad, even though they're wrong to be so. As I said earlier, your premises may be false, but your logic may be sound.

For example:

Bananas are the same as Cars (False Premise)
Cars are the same as Moon Rocks (False Premise)
Bananas are the same as Moon Rocks (False Conclusion, but Sound Logic)

Why? Because:

A=B
B=C
Therefore, A=C

We can do the same for the present situation:

Christ = Divine Incarnation (True Premise)
Divine Incarnation = Qu'ran (False Premise)
Christ = Qu'ran (False Conclusion b/c Premise B is false, but Sound Logic)

You can be as wrong as wrong can be, but still come to a logically sound conclusion.
 

torstar

Puritan Board Sophomore
John is an interesting cat and was very instrumental in getting me on the Road to Geneva a few years back.

Please don't spend too much time trying to untangle him and his often edifying work if you are not being paid to do so...

:)
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
I agree that Piper is trying to show what they think...

They believe that the Quran is the revelation from God, where we believe that Jesus Christ is the revelation from God. In that sense as a matter of thought, burning the Quran to them is the same as crucifying Christ is to us.

Regardless of their error, it does explain their passion towards the issue.

The problem I have with this thinking is that it actually presupposes that the Crucifixion of Jesus was a bad thing for Christians. Without Christ Crucified you and I have no hope. None. We are in the same boat as the rest of those who hate God.

What Piper has done (in my opinion), subconsciously is this: Make it seem like the Crucifixion of Jesus is an offense to Christians, whereas the Bible teaches us that the offense of the Cross is an offense to Jews and Greeks.

1 Corinthians 1:23-25
23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.​
 

Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
Piper never once claims that Islam is a valid religion and that's not a necessary conclusion from what he said.

I re-read my own post and did not see where I argued that Piper is claiming that Islam is a valid religion.

Here is the link to the blog post itself: Burning the Qur

Piper says;

Did you catch that last line?

The parallel between Christianity and Islam is not that Christ parallels Mohammed and the Qur’an parallels the Bible. The parallel is that the Qur’an parallels Christ. The giving of the Qur’an is in Islam what the incarnation of Christ is to Christianity.

If this is so, then Qur’an-burning is parallel to Christ-crucifying.

But ponder the implications of this. On the one hand you might say this goes a long way to explaining Muslim rage. Yes. But more importantly it goes even farther to show the deep differences between the two religions.

In the process of being crucified, Jesus rebuked the use of the sword (Matthew 26:52) healed his enemy’s amputated ear (Luke 22:51), prayed for the forgiveness of his murderers (Luke 23:34), and sent his followers out to love their enemies and do good to those who hate them (Luke 6:27).

So the Qur’an has been burned and the Christ has been crucified—and continues to be crucified.

The test is in the response.

Maybe I'm reading the wrong blog post and you guys are referring to another, but Piper places the antithesis between the Christian and Muslim at the point of response. Three times he uses the word parallel in context of Christ and the Qur'an to describe the relationship of Christianity and Islam. Once he uses the word difference, and that is is context of how we respond.

In an apologetic situation with a Muslim would you ever say "You have the Qur'an and we have Jesus and they are parallel, the difference is in the response"? Maybe it's my militant Van Tilian apologetic getting in the way, but the wording of Mr. Piper is questionable.
 
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Zenas

Snow Miser
Because he's drawing a parallel to explain why Muslims are angry. Assuming arguendo that the Qu'ran is the Divine Incarnation for Muslims, then it holds the same signifigance as Christ, to an extent.

The conclusion is that if someone blasphemed Christ, you'd be angry. Well, someone is blaspheming their "divine incarnation." They're mad and it's not hard to guess why. I don't see the necessity of reading him as affirming the equality of Christ and the Qu'ran, with the only difference between the two religions is their adherent's reactions. Again, I say this because it's not a necessary conclusion that he is affirming the validity of Islam. He is stating that, logically, even though their religion is a sham, they're mad for a reason, even if it's the wrong reason. He then draws a distinction between Muslims and Christians. I don't see how this leads to him equating Christ and the Qu'ran in the sense that they are both true.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
We may wish to qualify Mr. Pipers comments for him, but the fact remains that he still wrote,

“If this is so, then Quran-burning is parallel to Christ-crucifying.”.

Scripture is clear that the world’s religion is in no way parallel to true religion. The philosophy of Christ and the philosophy of the world are antithetical not parallel. So until Mr. Piper rescinds or qualifies his own comments we must take him at his own word.

His words need no qualification. What he was saying is extremely clear to me. I re-worded it to allow others who may have misunderstood to correct their misunderstanding.

Piper never once claims that Islam is a valid religion and that's not a necessary conclusion from what he said. He is pointing out that, logically, they are mad, even though they're wrong to be so. As I said earlier, your premises may be false, but your logic may be sound.

For example:

Bananas are the same as Cars (False Premise)
Cars are the same as Moon Rocks (False Premise)
Bananas are the same as Moon Rocks (False Conclusion, but Sound Logic)

Why? Because:

A=B
B=C
Therefore, A=C

We can do the same for the present situation:

Christ = Divine Incarnation (True Premise)
Divine Incarnation = Qu'ran (False Premise)
Christ = Qu'ran (False Conclusion b/c Premise B is false, but Sound Logic)

You can be as wrong as wrong can be, but still come to a logically sound conclusion.

My biggest problem is that followers of Islam have expressed murderous rage at infidels when they have not burned the Quran. So unless Piper adds this point, the discussion is at best woefully incomplete to the point that it is almost reckless because this piece of info changes the entire tone of the discussion.

CT
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't see that. Reading Piper in a light most favorable to him and not assuming the worst where he has failed to address a specific, his statement is completely acceptable. I can't force charity though.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
The think the wise thing to do is simply refrain from koran burning. It freaks muslims out and hurts our credibility and witness.
 

Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
I think what Piper was trying to say was that the Quran to Muslims is like Christ to us. Not that they are in any truth equal, one is right (Christ) and one is False (Quran). Muslims worship the Quran, we don't worship the Bible, we just look at the Bible as our source on Christ.
 

Mudharp

Puritan Board Freshman
I think many are jumping off the high dive of conclusions and misinterpreting what a Godly and extremely intelligent minister of the gospel has said. Piper is merely illustrating why the burning of the Q'uaran evokes such an emotional response from certain segments of the Islamic faith. Cut the guy some slack. Sheesh.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't see that. Reading Piper in a light most favorable to him and not assuming the worst where he has failed to address a specific, his statement is completely acceptable. I can't force charity though.

If one believes that murderous rage would occur due to open opposition to Islam, then what is the point of talking about murderous rage occurring due to some particular form of opposition? Such only makes sense if one assumes that the rage is not there when other forms of opposition are used.

Now if you say charity means that we assume that Piper does not realize the general case, then okay. Otherwise, it is misleading/reckless.

CT
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
So Piper's comments are "woefully incomplete" because he fails to assert that Muslims will fly into a murderous rage regardless of the offense to Islam? Why is it necessary to assert that? The topic at hand is that some Muslims will fly into a murderous rage and he attempts to explain why; a topic that I've thoroughly and clearly explained above. The point that you seem to be pushing is irrelevant.
 

discipulo

Puritan Board Junior
I don’t find the comparison particularly fortunate, but I accept that Piper is well meant.

But even if qualitatively could there be a parallelism between the meaning of Christ for Christians and the Arabic Quran for Muslims. (I still find it far fetched.)

How about the quantitative side of the question, how many Copies of the Quran in Arab are available worldwide? Or just in the US?

It was not as the only Copy available was burnt, not even an historic manuscript, come on!

Their manicheism doesn't give them much empathy and here we are trying to understand their feelings.

How often Muslims publicly burn national flags from western countries like the US or Denmark?

They forget how that hurts citizens to see? My parents in law live in Denmark where we often go to visit, so I happen to know that Dannish people were tremendously hurt to see their flag burnt in public.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I feel as if I cannot offer any other explanation that what has already been given. Any further misunderstanding is a problem that I do not believe I can remedy with my participation.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
I feel as if I cannot offer any other explanation that what has already been given. Any further misunderstanding is a problem that I do not believe I can remedy with my participation.

Your explanations have been edifying and helpful. Thank you.
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
Dr. Piper's point falls flat, unfortunately, for the reasons previously mentioned.

He is attempting to account for what he frames as a reaction from Muslims that is out of the ordinary. But it is not out of the ordinary

The answer to "Why did the Muslims kill in response to this?" is not "because the Koran is more than just a book to them, so it has unique offense when burned."

No, the answer is: "Why? Because that's what they do."
 

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dr. Piper's point falls flat, unfortunately, for the reasons previously mentioned.

He is attempting to account for what he frames as a reaction from Muslims that is out of the ordinary. But it is not out of the ordinary

The answer to "Why did the Muslims kill in response to this?" is not "because the Koran is more than just a book to them, so it has unique offense when burned."

No, the answer is: "Why? Because that's what they do."

On what basis do you make this sweeping claim?
 
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