Because I believe in free speech, I think the Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, has the right to burn a few Qurans. After all, we Americans have the right to make fools of ourselves and show the world how ignorant and intolerant we can be.
I am wondering, however, how and where Terry Jones earned the title “Reverend”. My “Reverend” title was bestowed upon me after four years of college, three years of Seminary (the Church’s equivalent of Graduate School), a battery of psychological assessments and ecclesiastical exams, and the gathered wisdom of two local congregations (the one who sponsored my candidacy and the one who called me as a pastor) as well a regional governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Unlike some “Reverends” , I did not obtain my Divinity or Theological Degree from a diploma mill or buy my ordination over the internet. Mr. Jones, what are your credentials?
Few Americans would undergo open-heart surgery from a “Surgeon” who obtained their M.D. from a correspondence school and their Board Certification over the internet, or be represented in a Court of Law by an “Attorney” whose law degree came from a diploma mill and the only bar they ever passed served drinks. Many Americans, however, are willing to follow blindly a so-called “Reverend” who has little if any theological education and whose ordination is worth about as much as three cereal box tops. Therefore, the Reverend Terry Jones serves as a Pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville and has already experienced more than his fifteen minutes of fame.
I will be among the first to admit that a theological education and the ecclesiastical bureaucracy can stifle the Spirit, but they also guard against ignorance and stupidity. I have a hunch that Mr. Jones’ theological qualifications are thin and his ecclesiastical credentials are slim, or else he would not be saying what he is saying and planning to do what he says he is planning to do.
Mr. Jones, I read the Quran when I was still in high school. The Quran, as is the Tanakah and the New Testament, is the foundational text of one of the world’s three great monotheistic faiths. Rather than burning a copy of the Quran on September 11, 2010, I think I will raise it from the shelf in my library where it has been sitting, carry it with me, and read it in public as a protest against ignorance and intolerance and sign of support for peace loving Moslems.
This post has been cross posted on my personal blog, Summit to Shore.