Is The Bible More Violent than the Quran?

religion-40578_1280I recently read an article that stated the Bible is more violent than the Quran. The engineer who developed the analysis program said:

The project was inspired by the ongoing public debate around whether or not terrorism connected with Islamic fundamentalism reflects something inherently and distinctly violent about Islam compared to other major religions. ~ Tom Anderson

So in two minutes his program looked at eight emotions – Joy, Anticipation, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, Surprise, Fear/Anxiety and Trust – and concluded that the Bible scored higher for anger and lower for trust than the Quran.

The New Testament references killing and destruction 2.8% of the time while the Quran references killing and destruction 2.1%. I’ll be honest, the article doesn’t talk about the ins and outs of the program, but it’s a computer program and not a human. It’s geared towards finding quantitative data rather than qualitative data. what I mean is this:

The New Testament has some inherently violent elements. After all, it talks about the intentional self-sacrifice of Christ, who was plotted against, crucified/murdered, dead, and buried. Yes, those are some violent parts of the New Testament. But the overwhelming theme BEHIND the keyword violence is love – God’s love and self-sacrifice. I would rather have this 2.8% kind of violence than a 2.1% of Quranic violence that talks about doing harm to infidels (again, I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of the program nor do I know what material in the Quran was targeted).

My point is simply that, though the New Testament does contain Jesus 05keyword elements of violence, it is not done in a way that directs others towards violence. In fact, an honest reading of the New Testament directs people AWAY from violence and towards peace. Contrary to ultra-conservative leanings, Jesus was NOT a gun-toting war-monger.

On the flip-side, however, we need to be honest and realize that, just as violent themes in our sacred text do not necessarily lead to violent Christians, violent themes in the Quran do not necessarily lead to violent Muslims.

In the end, a simple computer search of emotional language in a sacred text is a pretty shoddy way of evaluating that text – ANY sacred text. It eliminates any nuance. It looks at the text through a single interpretive lens – the lens of the software engineer.

And that’s just shoddy hermeneutics.

Muslims, Murder, & Forgiveness

Love – Forgive - Live

If you haven’t heard by now Nidal Hasan, the Soldier who murdered 13 people and injured dozens others in a mass shooting back in 2009, was finally convicted – found guilty of premeditated murder. You can read about it here. I wanted to take a few minutes to respond because I believe how Christians respond is important.

It will be very easy to let our response focus on the murderer’s religion. He is a Muslim. His shooting spree seemed (at least in part) to be motivated by a reaction to American involvement in Muslim nations overseas. Prosecutors claim Hasan believed he had a jihad duty to kill as many Soldiers as possible. He also yelled, “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great in Arabic) before opening fire on innocents. Yes, there seems to be a strong connection to his Islamic faith.

I know that there will be many individuals (and conservative talking heads) who will want to point out that Islam is not compatible with the West and will always be opposed to Democracy. I’ve heard the arguments that Islam will never truly be peaceful towards Christianity. It is easy to lump all Muslims into a single category. It’s almost a natural reaction because we’ve been at war in Muslim nations for so long. Americans been attacked at home and abroad by Muslims. And I will be totally honest here – I also believe that in the big picture Islam will never be at peace with Christianity.

I do not believe, however, that we can demonize all individuals because of the actions of others. I do not want to lumped together with “Christians” from Westboro Baptist Church. Hasan is Muslim, yes, but he acted alone. The tendency will be to look sideways at all Muslims (indeed, all brown-skinned foreigners) as if any of them, at any moment, might open fire. But let’s not jump to that extreme. Before you know it we’ll be creating internment camps for anyone who is “other than.”

Let’s remember that sick individuals do sick things all the time without greater ties to worldwide movements. When a white teenager opens fire on a movie theater we don’t go around acting suspiciously of all white teens (well, maybe some people do, but in general I think not!). Jump off the bandwagon and turn off Fair and Balanced news outlets and use common sense. Messed up people do messed up things. Don’t fly off the handle – Hasan admitted to the shooting and was found guilty. He will pay – possibly with his life.

From a biblical point of view we need to consider the words of the Apostle Paul:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. (Romans 12:14,17a)

Nidal Hasan committed atrocious acts of evil against dozens of people. There is no excuse. There is no justification. But God calls the faithful to live a different way – without seeking to do damage to the offender, God calls us to bless and to avoid vengeance. We are to pursue forgiveness, in spite of what people do to us. It’s hard to even talk about, much less to live out. Like the Matthew West song says:

It’s the hardest thing to give away, it’s the last thing on your mind today – it always goes to those who don’t deserve – – -forgiveness

There will be hours of talk radio and news reports filled with stories, speculation, and judgments against Nidal Hasan. He will get what is coming to him. Even if you think his earthly punishment is not severe enough we can rest knowing that all of us will one day stand before the Creator of the Universe and give an account for our behavior here on earth. Hasan will. I will. You will, too.

So let’s not focus on hatred and fear and loathing of this sick and evil man. Let’s turn those emotions over to God. If you have to direct your focus anywhere, grieve and mourn with the families that are suffering loss because of this man’s actions. Love on the survivors.

Forgive.

Live.