The Dove World Outreach Center in general, and pastor Terry Jones in particular, is at the center of controversy due to the scheduled September 11 Quran-burning bonfire. Statements by his former German colleagues shed light on what might make Jones tick.
Meet Pastor Terry Jones
Dr. Terry Jones pastors the Dove World Outreach Center. He proclaimed September 11 to be International Burn a Koran Day. While his congregation only numbers about 50 souls, some 11,702 Facebook friends “like” the plan. It is noteworthy that Dr. Jones is also the author of “Islam is of the Devil.”
Even though the planned Dove World Outreach Center Quran-burning event has been denounced by General David Petraeus and virtually any and all politicians currently in office, Terry Jones stands firm. His action and message, he contends, are in keeping with the tenet of “transforming Dove from a local church to an apostolic church with a world vision” (as outlined by the church’s website).
The Evangelical Leadership Problem
Simple minds with an anti-Christian bias will be quick to lump the members of the Dove World Outreach Center together with the countless evangelicals who oppose the act. That highlights the problem — just as apologists for Islam frequently cite it in that religion’s defense — found in the absence of central leadership within the evangelical Christian movement.
While Catholics have the Pope, who is the undisputed leader of that faith community, evangelicals form a much more loosely knit canvas of groups that include the Christian right, Evangelical left and a host of splinter groups. While some evangelical faith communities have a semi-central leadership group or figure, even within this movement there is quite a bit of flux.
Case in point is the ousting of Kip McKean by the International Churches of Christ. McKean initially emerged from the mainline Church of Christ and translated his faith and leadership abilities into a campus ministry that eventually became the Boston Movement. This church grew into an international phenomenon that saw many faithful come to Christ. It also led to abuses of power and leadership, which came to a head in 2003.
The International Churches of Christ subsequently removed their figurehead from his position, disbanded and then re-connected under decentralized leadership. After a few years of attempting to fit into the new model, McKean left the faith community he helped found to start a new ministry, which is currently referred to as City of Angels International Christian Church. At this time, Kip McKean is seeking to duplicate the ICOC’s growth and message.
The Checkered Past of Dr. Terry Jones
Pastor Terry Jones may currently lead the Dove World Outreach Center, but he does not have an unblemished past in evangelical circles. The German Evangelical Alliance is quite familiar with Jones, seeing that he led the Cologne Christian Community (Christliche Gemeinde Köln) until 2008, when he was booted from his position for what the Alliance terms “untenable theological statements and an addiction to personal recognition.”
In evangelical church-lingo, the latter would be defined as “pride,” which is an immediate precursor to a fall (as was the case with McKean and also Jones).
The Alliance has issued a press release condemning the Quran burning by Jones and urges the faithful “to recognize that fighting fire with fire only builds a bigger fire.” Of course, under the United States Constitution, the Quran burning event is a perfectly legal act, bringing the American public once again to the crossroads where that which is legal intersects with that which is ethical.