Part One can be found here.
Roger Wolsey, in his continuing effort to provide me with more material to blog about, has proposed this.
First let me start by simply saying “no”. Really, there is just no reason. It appears that since every part of orthodox Christianity has been disagreed with and all the fun heresies have been rehashed, the single most cherished prayer in all of scripture must now be altered as well. I mean why stop with calling into question the creeds, all the expressions of belief, the Bible in it’s entirety, every recorded miracle, the resurrection and it’s ultimate meaning, the divinity of Christ and His position as a unique divine being, and really Christianity having any exclusive claim on truth, we’ll just go ahead now and bring in the Lord’s Prayer and change it. I mean really, why not? If nothing else is sacred, why should the prayer that Christ taught be. If no tradition matters or should be upheld, may as well destroy this one too. No, not by reciting it from a different version of scripture, a different translation or even a different language No we want to change it for the sake of changing it. There is no legitimate purpose, no valid reason, no true misunderstanding of meaning that is not easily addressed. No, near as I can tell the goal here is simply to change it so there is yet one more thing that separates Progressive “Christianity” (as understood through the 8 points by Roger Wolsey and others) from those nasty, hateful, bullying, Westboro Baptist like, orthodox believers whose only intent is to do harm to progressives and who are dying out in droves. (All those descriptions have been used by Roger Wolsey in the past week to describe churches that are preaching against the dangers of progressive “Christianity”.)
Let’s look at some of the things that Roger is saying in his blog piece shall we? “Christianity of most every stripe is waning in the Western nations. This is largely due to many people mistakenly thinking that conservative evangelicalism or fundamentalism are the only forms of Christianity out there (many have never heard of progressive Christianity) — and they are rejecting the supernatural theism and substitutionary theories of the atonement that go with them — that is, they reject the notion of a magical, specifically male, god who lives in the sky who we should fear and who punishes us to hell if we don’t believe that Jesus’ death on the cross is what saves people’s souls.”
The study that he is using here is a good one from Pew research that has been interpreted numerous ways. Christianity Today sees it this way, while still others this way . The point being that while numbers may be useful to a degree, making a broad assumption based on a few is hardly definitive. Also, the numbers have said in the past that the more liberal and/or progressive denominations are shrinking faster than the conservative denominations that he decries. Further more, I do not go to a progressive church to say the least and his statements of a magic male god who lives in the sky and punishes us not at all the faith I grew up with nor the faith that I, or most of my contemporaries, hold today. That is to say except for the necessity and promise of resurrection which we see in a much different light than Roger does.
In this is no reason to change the Lord’s Prayer however, even if Roger is right.
“People to today know that God isn’t a boy – they know that Spirit is both (and neither) male and female — and beyond.”
Well, the overwhelmingly vast majority of Christian denominations have accepted for quite some time that God transcends human understanding of gender. The use of gender is to reflect the person of God and not a sex. Perhaps we should use “it” in reference to God? Maybe “hey you something up there, down here and everywhere?” Really, if gender inclusive language is a must for some one looking for God, then all due respect, they are not ready for the scandalous message of Christ in the first place. Again, more change for the sake of change and to fall in line with other, more liberal denominations, not because it will be useful or effective, but because it bucks tradition and anything traditional must be labeled bad to provide identity to Progressive “Christianity” (again as described by Wolsey and the 8 points) as they have no other identity than to be contrary to orthodox.
I could go on and on but I have a desire to not make this rant to long. Kevin Carnahan, a college professor and all around swell guy had this to say after reading:
“This kind of thing is the reason that progressives get a bad name. It confuses progressiveness with (post)modernist triumphalism.
There is a reason we call it “The Lord’s” prayer. The Christian tradition teaches us that: “Jesus taught them to pray saying …” thing. No doubt, we could take your version of the prayer, but then we would have to say “Roger taught them to pray saying …” But if we are going to do that, we should probably call it “Roger’s Prayer.”
In addition to this problem, the post is polemically and factually problematic. Factually, it assumes that all early Christians viewed heaven as a physical space above the clouds. This completely misses the sophistication of ancient thinkers, who were quite capable of thinking symbolically, and processing ideas such as those in Platonism, which dealt with categories that don’t fit into the physical world. Polemically, it supposes that anyone who says the word “heaven” is thinking “magically” and is ignorant.
Thanks, but I will keep to translation of the prayer that the tradition delivers to us as the words of “The Lord” Jesus Christ.”
(In case you were wondering, Kevin and I disagree on a wide variety of things, so this should not be mistaken for a voice from an echo chamber, but rather a voice that would often be heard as contrary to my own.)
Roger, here in the UMC we are of the Wesleyan tradition not in the Wolseyan tradition and we try to be humble enough to pray as Jesus taught, not as Roger did.