Saturday, July 29, 2006

The problem of the preachy prayer

Dateline: Georgetown, Del.

Mrs. Mona Dobrich and others are suing the Indian River district school board because a local minister dared to pray an evangelistic prayer.

Quotes from the New York Times article:

The Jewish mother:

"It was as if no matter how much hard work, no matter how good a person you are, the only way you’ll ever be anything is through Jesus Christ," Mrs. Dobrich said. "He said those words, and I saw Sam’s head snap and her start looking around, like, ‘Where’s my mom? Where’s my mom?’ And all I wanted to do was run up and take her in my arms."

The local minister:

"Because Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, I will speak out for him," said the Rev. Jerry Fike of Mount Olivet Brethren Church, who gave the prayer at Samantha’s graduation. "The Bible encourages that." Mr. Fike continued: "Ultimately, he is the one I have to please. If doing that places me at odds with the law of the land, I still have to follow him."

Did the minister go "over the line" preaching in his prayer? And should a Jew feel "threatened" by such a message? It is the exclusiveness of our faith in Christ as the only way that is the point of contention between Evangelical Christianity and the multi-culturalism that is in our nation today.

It is not enough for us to allow other belief systems along side our own. We must deny our own belief system in "tolerance" of those we feel are false and/or incomplete. Judaism, with which we share common standards of behavior, is actually more "anti-christian" than any other religion. That system, in its present form, is defined by its exclusion of Jesus as the Messiah their own Scriptures predicted. Now one cannot be a "Jew" and at the same time confess Jesus as Messiah.

How can we not "insult" them when we proclaim the truth that by its nature declares their "faith" as a lie? If they accept the New Testament as historical at all they have to admit that the Pharisees did the "right thing" when they silenced the heretic who claimed he was the Messiah. For if Jesus is truthfully portrayed in the gospels, and later preached by a "Hebrew of the Hebrews" as being the very one they had been looking for, then of course Christianity (the "Nazarenes" in modern Hebrew) cannot be allowed to continue preaching what Judaism considers a lie, can it?

And so, we are met with a dilemma. How do we "speak the truth in love"? Do we bring it up in a prayer? Or do we speak openly about Jesus as Lord, and live accordingly. We are told to "evangelize" (proclaim the good message) to the world. But we are also told that we cannot make anyone believe it. But then, logically SAYING a thing does not make it so either. So, if it is not perceived on some level as possibly being the truth it should not offend anyone. If an Orhodox Jew really believes she can be "good enough" to earn God's favor, then a Christian's prayer, or even sermon, should not cause distress.

But then, when the Jewish mother complained about the preachy prayer, some in the audience intimidated her. And then, reportably, she received "threatening" phone calls. Neither activity was called for on the part of Christians. Our faith is not threatened by our inability to proclaim it to others in an orderly manner. When in public prayer, we should pray manner-of-factly to our Sovereign Lord. We don't have to sermonize, but rather just TALK to GOD. And when we close the prayer, we should feel free to pray "in Jesus' name" invoking Him as our authority in approaching the throne of God in the first place.

If we simply pray truthfully, from the heart, then we will not be threatening anyone. When we preach to the unconverted, let us just tell them who Jesus is, and what he has done. Let us let the Holy Spirit change hearts and minds, for we cannot. If anyone feels threatened with the truth, then perhaps it is because they doubt their own "truth." Or maybe they feel our "truth" is actually a "lie."

Unless, of course, they are relativistic post-modernists. Then both truth and "non-truth" are on equal footing. Neither can be "trusted."

Which brings me to my original thought - before the news item grabbed my attention. I am adding a new entry to my profile. Tonight I finished reading the first volume (of five) of "The Complete Works of Francis Schaffer." This volume's theme is "A Chritian Worldview." I would not have finished reading it - a task I began untold months ago - if I had gone to a movie tonight. But my wife was not up for a two hour trip out of the house across town to a crowded theater. And so, to avoid vegging out on the TV or the internet, I read.

Maybe I will get a movie review in NEXT week.

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