Pastor, Author Writes an Appeal to Sensitivity and Compassion

Sep 10, 2010, 17:00 ET from Thomas Nelson

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement can be attributed to Bryant Wright the founding pastor of the more than 7,600 member Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, and the author of Seeds of Turmoil: The Biblical Roots of the Inevitable Crisis in the Middle East. He currently serves as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Thomas Nelson is the book publisher.

Two very small groups of religious people have created a firestorm of outrage and opposition. One, a very small Christian church, was planning to burn the Qur'an on 9/11/10 in spite of strong opposition from the pope, evangelical Christian leaders, and the White House. Needless to say, Christians all over America have been appalled at that possibility. Does the Dove World Outreach Center have the right to do so? If zoning were to be approved, yes. Would it be helpful to relationships between Christians and Muslims and Muslims and Americans? Absolutely not.

Meanwhile, a small a group of Muslim leaders in New York are determined to build a mosque extremely close to Ground Zero, where Muslims in the name of Allah murdered over 3,000 innocent civilians. Do they have the right? If they have zoning approval, yes. Is it helpful to relationships between Christians and Muslims and Muslims and Americans? Absolutely not.

Just as burning the Qur'an would create an outrage in the Muslim world, so would building the mosque be like a dagger in the hearts of many families of the 9/11 victims. I appeal to the pastor in Florida and the leaders of the mosque to show sensitivity and compassion. Your proposed actions do not encourage people of the world to respect your faith.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I fully realize that Islam and Christianity do not teach the same thing. What Islam and the Qur'an teach about Jesus is very different from what the Bible teaches about Jesus. The Bible records that Jesus is the son of God. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through me." In other words, Jesus is the only way to God and heaven. This teaching of Jesus is extremely controversial in today's pluralistic culture. Yet the followers of Jesus believe that Jesus is the truth and the Bible is a trustworthy record of his teaching.

Islam and the Qur'an teach that Jesus was a prophet, a man, not the son of God, and that only Allah is God in Islam. Islam also teaches that Jesus never died on the cross or rose from the dead—the essential core beliefs of Christianity.

Both claims about Jesus cannot be true. They can both be false, or one claim can be true and one claim false. But no one can intelligently say both claims about Jesus are true. That is totally illogical. Followers of Jesus as the crucified, resurrected, son of God believe the claims of Scripture are true and the claims of Islam about Jesus are false. Yet we respect Muslims' rights to disagree. This is why many of us vigorously opposed the burning of the Qur'an that would have outraged Muslims around the world and hindered the church's mission of sharing the love of Christ and the good news of salvation. Just because a small group of religious people have the freedom and the right to do something doesn't make it right and best for all. My plea is that Rev. Jones would not burn the Qur'an and that the Muslim leaders in New York revise their plans to build the mosque near Ground Zero. If we all exhibit sensitivity and compassion the world will be a better place.

SOURCE Thomas Nelson