A friend sent me a link to a blog from Syria which has published an open letter from a Syrian Catholic priest addressed to Pastor Terry Jones. It is translated into English and sums up exactly what I feel about this issue.
In recent years I have become increasingly aware of just how much ignorance of the cultures, the beliefs and the practices of both the Christian Faith and Islam have blighted relations between Western societies and those who are founded on Islamic principles. This is not helped by the hysterical secularism of the Media and its Humanist and Atheist owners, controllers and directors. Nor is it helped by tub thumping patriotism on either side.
Travelling in the Middle and Near East has also been educational for me. The more I have learned of Islamic beliefs and writings, the more I realised that they are not that different to those of the majority of Christians - with one major exception. Christian's believe that Jesus was and is, the Son of God. After Him there can be no further 'prophets.' Islam acknowledges Jesus (Isa) as a great prophet, one who was removed by God and remains 'hidden' until he returns at the last days. Their belief is, in fact, founded on Menachianism and Arianism - heresies of the Gnostic tradition which arose some 100 to 200 years after the crucifixion.
Arius was a Bishop of Alexandria (250 - 336 AD) and the father of Arianism, a Gnostic doctrine that describes Christ in much the same terms as that found in Islamic teaching. According to Arius, Jesus was not crucified, a 'heavenly being was sent in his place to die' and the real Jesus was 'hidden' by God.
I am often confronted by controversies arising from the American churches adotption of so many secular principles and philosophies - often in the face of appeals from the rest of Christianity to consider carefully and exercise some restraint. While I do accept that the US churches have the right to develop their own understandings and theology, I am often left with the impression that they don't consider the impact of - for instance - appoitning a practicing 'gay' bishop on the rest of the church universal. The impact is usually incredibly damaging, especially in places where Christians are a minority and more so where they face aggression and persecution.
Equally alarming, in the west, are the images of rampaging mobs burning flags and effigies and chanting 'death to America' as they riot.
There is a fine line between appeasing such a mob and standing firm for our own beliefs and lifestyle. Actions such as that taken by Pastor Jones help no one and actually endanger all the good work being done to bring about understanding and peace.