Jesus once said that the children of this world are wiser than the children of light (Luke 16:8). By this he meant that sometimes the unredeemed are more shrewd and more in tune with what is going on than the redeemed. Sometimes non-Christians simply “get it” while some Christians don’t.
It seems we have had a good example of this taking place this past week. There has been plenty of commentary offered on the whacko idea of the whacko Greens to eliminate the Lord’s Prayer in Federal Parliament. The strange thing is, much of the best commentary on this has come from non-Christians, while some of the worst commentary has come from those known as evangelical Christians.
Of course as soon as the story broke I did my own write-up about this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/01/15/the-greens-ugly-misothiesm/
Other opinion pieces and commentaries have appeared, and some coming from evangelicals have been a bit embarrassing to be honest, while some really terrific pieces have come from those not even claiming to be Christians – or at least Bible-believing evangelicals.
There seems to be more boldness, wisdom and common sense from the non-Christians here than from the believers – thus the reference to Luke 16:8. While the non-Christians got to the point and knew what was at stake here, some of these Christian writers seemed to be far too concerned about being politically correct.
In two areas in particular I was quite disappointed by these Christian writers. First, they seemed utterly clueless as to the very real war we are in. As I wrote in my piece, this one episode alone (the call for the prayer ban) may not be all that much of a big deal. But if it is simply one example of many of a war against the public expression of our faith, then it is a big worry indeed.
This is all part of an incremental process to eliminate Christianity from the public arena. There have been plenty of other cases of this happening, and it is all part of the war against faith. And of course it is not just about eliminating faith from the public arena, but about a much bigger aim: to eliminate Christianity altogether.
Yet some of these Christian writers do not seem to have a clue here. Instead, they almost are siding with the Greens, so intent are they to please the masses and not rock the PC boat. Yet the non-Christian writers show none of the fear and men-pleasing PC. They are much more aware of the battle we are in.
The second thing which was so silly to drag up here was the issue of public prayer and hypocrisy which Jesus warned about in places like Matthew 5:6: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
Um, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the situation at hand. The Greens want to ban prayer; what Jesus is warning about is those who want to flaunt hypocritically their spirituality in public to impress others. Don’t these Christian writers even know about the facts in this case? No parliamentarian is forced to pray at these times. No one need even show up if they are not into prayer.
Thus those who come and pray are presumably doing so because they believe in the prayer and want to take part in it. What does any of that have to do with what Jesus was warning about? So I am rather puzzled by why these guys even raise this issue. It is apples and oranges, and is not really helping the debate.
I mentioned that non-Christians are penning some really sensible and incisive pieces on this, so let me now turn to them. They are rightly saying what these other Christian writers should have been saying, but did not since they seemed more intent on being acceptable and PC to the public.
The first was an editorial in Thursday’s Australian. Now I am not aware of too many Bible-believing editors at the Australian, but they wrote far more shrewdly and wisely than did some of these craven Christians. The entire editorial is worth posting here:
No book has had a greater impact on Western civilisation than the Bible. Believers or not, few would disagree. The Bible has shaped our language, art and institutions. Its Christian teachings have informed our development from exploration to enlightenment, through customs to laws, forging countries and cultures. So the practice of beginning deliberations in federal parliament with the Lord’s Prayer is not the imposition of a narrow religious code but rather a continuing thread of responsibility and respect for the burden of democratic decision-making.
The Greens move, by acting leader Richard Di Natale, to scrap the tradition is another demonstration of their disconnect from the mainstream. Senator Di Natale contends ditching the prayer will reinforce the separation of church and state when this separation is the very endowment of the traditions it reflects. He suggests it is not attuned to a pluralistic and multicultural society when that, too, has been bequeathed by these traditions. He even verballed curriculum reviewer Kevin Donnelly, suggesting his reference to the prayer hinted at a formal preoccupation with Christianity, when Dr Donnelly argued the need to teach about all great faiths.
To be sure, the prayer sparked debate when it was introduced at Federation. The then member for Kooyong, William Knox, moved the motion saying the prayer was “unsectarian in character” and could be accepted even by members of “the Hebrew faith”. The current member for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg – Jewish, as it happens – agrees. Back in 1901, West Australian senator George Pearce argued that the principles of the prayer were worthy of senators “even if uttered by atheists” and would do no harm. He was right, and prescient.
Greens senators are free to restrict their spirituality to addressing “fellow Earthians” about Gaia. We think most Australians are comfortable with the Lord’s Prayer. Australia even bolstered the prayer’s global renown when in the 1970s Adelaide singing nun Sister Janet Mead sent it to the top of the pop charts. The Greens might be more comfortable heeding the words of the only transported convict elected to federal parliament; in 1901, William Groom declared the prayer “socialistic” and ascribed it to “the greatest social reformer that the world has ever known”. Amen.
And yesterday Piers Akerman – another one not exactly known as an evangelical – offered a great column also blasting this stupid idea. He wrote in part: “Bereft of significant nation-building policies, acting Greens leader Richard Di Natale, has launched a crusade to axe the Lord’s Prayer from the formal opening of parliamentary sittings.
“In doing so, Di Natale, who describes himself as a lapsed Catholic, reveals his inner-adolescent self, still revelling in teenage rebelliousness as well as a distressing lack of historical and philosophical understanding. Little wonder he has an appeal for the Gaia-worshipping Green voters….
“Di Natale’s insubstantial case for dumping the Lord’s Prayer relies on easily demolished arguments. It is, he says, anachronistic. How so, when Christianity is growing across the Third World, particularly in Africa, and is enjoying a resurgence in Russia and growing support in China.
“But, Di Natale would be better to put aside his own juvenile intolerance of the faith of his forebears and consider the substance and purpose of the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer as the introductory plea before parliamentarians get down to work.
“The prayer is one of aspiration, it is about hope for guidance, it is an acknowledgement of human frailties and foibles and its placement at the opening of the daily session is in essence a heartfelt plea for MPs to be saved from these traps during the parliamentary deliberations – not that it seems to have had any effect on the performance of the disinterested Greens.
He concludes: “Di Natale is attempting to deny a natural human appetite, understood for millennia by people of all religions, to seek spiritual values in arcane mysteries. His narrow view, apart from being boringly pragmatic and profoundly unattractive, does not help us to think well of ourselves and others and nor does it encourage unselfish and humanist values. Little wonder that he finds himself preaching to a very limited congregation when he engages on this predictably oh-so-Green and offensive topic.”
Yes absolutely right. These non-believers are not beating around the bush, and they are getting right to the heart of the matter. On the other hand some of these limp-wristed evangelicals seem far too concerned about not upsetting anyone, and allowing themselves to be dictated to by the chains of political correctness.
And going off on rabbit trails and red herrings is not of any use either. I will take any day of the week a hard-hitting, truth speaking non-believer over a men-pleasing mealy-mouthed evangelical. The former offer much more wisdom, insight, and clarity of thought than do the Christians – just like Jesus talked about.