I heard someone on the radio this morning summarizing an article about the difference between the Islamic view of the Koran and the Christian view of the Bible. I have googled and googled but can't come up with the article--of course I didn't catch the name of the author or the publication it was in, unfortunately, so I can't provide a link to it.
The thesis was that Muslims believe that the Koran contains the direct revelation of Allah to them and when they read it or recite it they are in touch with the actual words of God. Christians, on the other hand, believe that although the Bible was inspired by God it was written by man. Apparently the article concluded that Muslims therefore venerated the Koran in the same way that Christians venerate and worship Christ--as the revelation of God to man.
This was presented as the explanation for the violent reaction in the Muslim world to the Newsweek article (now discredited and recanted) reporting the "flushing" of the Koran down the toilet by American troops. While I think that the alleged incident was probably used by Islamic extremists for their own purposes, it did make me think about our attitudes toward the Bible.
A couple of years ago at a memorial service, the pastor leading the service mentioned that when he visits a family to plan a funeral service he will ask to see the Bible of the deceased to help the family find favorite passages of their loved one that could be used in the service. Often he is given a Bible in pristine condition, looking untouched by human hands. He will then ask for the "dog-eared" copy if he knows that the deceased was involved in Bible study. Then the underlined, highlighted, raggedy looking Bible is produced and the family and pastor can find the scripture that was meaningful for the service.
When I teach a new Bible study class, I encourage people to underline and highlight and write notes in their Bibles. The article that was referred to in the radio broadcast included the information that "infidels" were not allowed to touch the Koran, lest they desecrate it by their touch. In contrast, Christians want to place Bibles in the hands of unbelievers and encourage them to read it and make it their own--through translation into their own language, reading, study and yes, underlining and making notes and questions in the sacred text.
Certainly Christians would object to a Bible being burned, flushed down the toilet, or desecrated. And it has been--in the name of "art" and "free speech". But we wouldn't riot over it. Is that because we don't take the Bible seriously enough, or because we don't view it in the same way as the Muslims view the Koran?