The word ‘martyr’ in the ancient Greek language actually means ‘witness’. We know the word in modern English to mean ‘someone who suffers death for the sake of their religion’.
You see… back in the day of the Roman Empire (when the Christians were first starting) those who ‘witnessed’ the life of Jesus (or the results of faith in the God of Jesus) were executed by the Roman Empire because their ‘witness’ didn’t jive with the Roman program. It was basic religious intolerance… Romans thought what Christians believed threatened their life, nation, government, and of course, their peace (pax romana)… so they killed them: fed them to lions, burned them at the stake, etc., etc., etc. Over the years soooooo many were killed (including most of Jesus apostles and, of course, Jesus himself) that the word for ‘witness’ (martyr) became identified with ‘death for faith’.
These days… we have knuckleheads like Terry Jones who somehow think it is a Christian expression of faith… to burn the Koran. If anyone should know better concerning radically intolerant acts… it should be Christians. First, because our blood was spilled for many years because of intolerance. Second, because we have a clear and defined mandate from Jesus himself concerning our actions in response to those who we think oppose us (Matthew 5:43-46):
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of God in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
The Golden Rule actually came from Jesus’ teaching: “do for others what you would have done for you” (Matthew 7:12: In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.
I hardly think Burning the Koran fits into anything we hold dear, and right, and proper. I wouldn’t want my faith book to be treated like that.