Main, Opinion, Persecution, Religious, z431
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So, They’re Burning Bibles Again?

Credit: Priscilla Du Preez/

Burning books is an old idea. There is one story in the Bible where people burned books “a number of those who had practised magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Acts 19:19)

It’s always good to know the whole story. In the Roman Empire city of Ephesus, some new Christians had books with magic incantations. They had probably recited magic words, from their books, for spiritual and magic ceremonies. When they became followers of Jesus, they decided the books were not correct for them. They had a new way to live.

So they burned their own, expensive, books of magic.

This was probably not something we would call hate speech. They were removing an influence from their own lives, and they were not destroying other people’s books.

Recently, a speaker named Ian Haworth was invited to speak at the State University of New York, in Albany. Some angry demonstrators tried to prevent Haworth from speaking, and there are reports that a Bible was burned:

The real story is more interesting.

A Bible was mangled, not burned, and apparently, it belonged to someone who attended the meeting. The most accurate report is that a demonstrator grabbed it from the owner and tried to mangle it.

Also, Haworth is Jewish and a political conservative, and almost certainly the damaged Bible was a Christian book, with Old and New Testaments. There is no report that a demonstrator brought a Jewish Bible, to protest a Jewish speaker.

The protest was not especially religious, and it did not have a theological point of view. If you hear stories about a Bible burning in Albany New York, the truth is different from the rumor.

The demonstrators were emotional, and not very thoughtful. They just wanted what they wanted. On the other side are the readers and listeners; us. We can also be emotional and thoughtless, and we can react to rumors.

Everyone can operate at the level of hysteria, and blind anger. Protesters and counter-protesters can shout insults and provoke the other side, and develop a culture of hysteria and rage.

Some people want that to happen. They want us all to operate at that level.

That same Bible that was mangled tells us “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1: 19)

We also have Proverbs that give us two opposite ideas, to make us think: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” (Proverbs 26:4–5)

We also have the words of Mark Twain: “Never argue with stupid people, they will only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

In general, keep your life out of a culture of hysteria, where the other person provokes us to be like them. They know how to operate on that level, and we don’t; whoever “we” are.

You’re not like that, right?

If you are wondering, we have a clear picture of people who want to beat us at their level. I am not calling these people fools, or stupid, but they will put a beating on anyone who opposes them, at their level. We should note the laws that are being proposed:

So, what do we say to someone who mangles a Bible in an angry demonstration?

Not much.

I learned, years ago, that the Bible is free as an app on my phone. When the preacher, tells us to take out our Bibles, we just pull phones out our pockets.

On a side topic, those free online Bibles are great for learning a language. We can have any number of translations and versions, of the same text; and it’s all free. Textbooks can be expensive.

Also, I recommend reading the Bible. It is a book, after all. We can remember what we read, and live it out:

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119: 9 to 11)

They can’t burn that. They can’t harm a book that we actually read, and we don’t have to be pulled into a hysterical and violent culture.

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