Malleus Progressivorum Chapter the First, Whose prayer?

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.


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12 Replies to “Malleus Progressivorum Chapter the First, Whose prayer?”

  1. Given that this proposed prayer is really quite silly (though not notably MORE silly than some of the religious pronouncements of Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson), why not use the power of ridicule, rather than outrage?

    1. Denny Burke is a baptist I believe, as is Mike Huckabee. I do not know the denominations of the other two, but to the best of my knowledge they are not suggesting anything be done directly in the UMC so I am nnot overly concerned with them. None of them are ordained as pastors in the UMC to the best of my knowledge, so what they say does not, or at least should not carry the weight of a pastor. Also, I tend to discount any religious views of those running for federal office (not necessarily moral, but strictly religious) as they are often corrupted by the election process, and I have no desire to live in a theocracy of any sort. Not sure what they has to do with anything, but there you go. As to outrage over ridicule, I find that you ridicule the ridiculous and become outraged over the dangerous. I did include ridicule however by using dismissive language as well as using language that clearly showed my contempt. Given the what Wolsey and the 8 point Progressive “Christians” propose is dangerous, I choose outrage as the over all theme. Paul did the same sort of thing, and while I am nowhere near as eloquent as him, nor as educated or intelligent as him, I find his example worthy of emulating.

  2. Again, as I pointed out in my blog (thanks for the free advertising for it), the verison(s) of the Lord’s prayer that are recited in churches today is not the same as the prayer that Jesus taught according to the Gospels. It’s already been added to and adapted. The precedent for allowing it to evolve has already been established. To resist such a move outright without considering the merits of the proposed changes, is nothing more than a sacred cow and idolatry.

    1. Roger, I’m sure Scott will answer, but what you speaking of (“previous changes”) and the pure garbage you are trying to do is two different things. Like ice and water. Thanks for playing.

  3. As to your free advertising, no problem. I make an effort to link things that I am commenting on specifically. I did consider the merits of possibly changing the Lord’s Prayer. I simply came to a drastically different conclusion than you did. In that consideration I considered if it was simply your changes that I was resisting or changes in general and I cam to the conclusion that it was indeed changes in general for the following reasons. First, as Kevin said a lot better than I could have, “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.””
    Second, of course the difference between your thoughts on the evolution of the Lord’s prayer and mine is this, yours, to me, seems to be change for the sake of change at best, and at worst an example of the hubris that we all fall victim to from time to time, often out of the best of intentions. I see the evolution of the Lord’s prayer as a matter of manuscript transmission.
    As I have given this thought, I feel safe in this matter from the dangers of idolatry and am content that I have ground the sacred cow to burger for the grill later. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Scott, thanks for responding. I am not calling for change “for change’s sake.” I specifically stated two reasons that I have for suggesting the 2 changes that I’m proposing. 1: To help more female Christians connect to our faith and to help all of us re-embrace the aspects of the Divine that are feminine. 2. To help us to truly take stewardship of the Earth and its environment seriously.

      That said, Scott, can you tell as a bit more about you? Are you a United Methodist? Are you a member of a Christian congregation? If so, which one? It seems that you’re friends with Joel. When, where and how did you two meet?

      1. Scott and I are the same. Sometimes, he inhabits the body and other times I do. It gets confusing, but especially since he isn’t the only one.

        1.) Glad you are here to tell “females” how to connect to the faith better. I don’t know what they did without your for 2000 years.

        2.) A word in a liturgy will not do that. Teaching may. Turning off FoxNews will do wonders, though. Not merely to conserve electricity, but to eliminate a large amount of air pollution.

  4. Joel, re: “Scott and I are the same. Sometimes, he inhabits the body and other times I do. It gets confusing, but especially since he isn’t the only one.”

    It’s good to see you admit that you made up a bogus penname to use when you are in “attack mode” against fellow UM clergy peers. What’s going to be awkward is how you will expect others to take you seriously in the future. Good luck with that.

    1. Roger, I worry about you. The inability to pick up on sarcasm is a sign of a rare form of dementia. Not to mention your conspiracy theories and paranoia. Roger, I think you may need some professional help.

    2. This was pretty obvious joking on Joel’s part. I am a real boy, I promise. The idea that I am not and that Joel made up some sort of fake name to go into attack mode is just silly. Here are the answers to your questions: Feel free to copy/paste this in the forum of the new Methodists (which I could not comment in as my request to join is not approved) as you did the other things, and in the future perhaps try to notice sarcasm as you see it.

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