Monday, January 30, 2006

Neighborhood Violence and Prayer Meetings

Our neighborhood around the church here has been in quite an uproar lately after a shooting. Someone was trying to break into a car, and the owner of the car shot him in the back and killed him. Something like that. Anyway the paper has run with the story and the ELCA church down the street has hosted a “town meeting” type of thing with local residents and police (which I understand also degenerated into a screaming match – with some punches thrown).

Well now comes the suggestion, this morning, that a neighborhood prayer group be formed to answer the violence in our neighborhood. Sounds like a nice enough idea, right?

But read a little closer.

Who can be against such a gathering? This pastor, for one. Me.

What a lie the Ba’Hai religion is based on, that “we all worship the same God”. Nonsense. Anyone with but the shallowest understanding of what different religions teach knows this cannot be the case. For instance:

Islam’s great motto, “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his Prophet” kinda flies in the face of Jesus, who says, “No one comes to the Father but by me”, and Paul, from this past Sunday’s Epistle (1 Corinthians 8:1-13), “For even if there are so-called gods…yet for us there is but one God, the Father… and one Lord, Jesus Christ”.

No, Mr. and Mrs. Uhlenhake, the religions do not all worship the same God. That’s the scandal of Christianity – that Jesus is the ONLY way to God. Of course, it’s also the great good news that we have – that Jesus IS the way to God.

I do encourage Christians to pray for an end to violence. In their neighborhoods, in the U.S. and in the world. We should not only pray, but also speak and act to promote peace, when possible.

But joining with wrong-believers and un-believers, and allowing your faith to be trumped by one of Satan’s lies is not the way to do it.

19 comments:

Scott Scofield said...

Fortunately, in the Protestant tradition, we just hire and fire ministers and theologians - men of the cloth no longer hold the keys to salvation - Christ does. So, I'm not sure who you are afraid of, since we have been delivered of our bondage through Christ - Prayer in the name of Christ "trumps" any other doctrine I'm aware of - and a gathering to demonstrate that among potential non-believers seems to be exactly the place to be. Or, you can be sarcastic and devisive and fearful of Satan - as your last post seems to suggest. Fear is not the motivator to a Christ-centered life - men able to articulate the genuine freedom of a life in Christ are the true leaders within the body of Christ. Fear is for politicians. As men of Christ, we walk where we are called, fearless and strengthened by Christ. Any other interpretation - or "accelerated" theological exegesis - is wrong.

Preachrboy said...

Hi Scott,

Not exactly sure where you are coming from. However all I can say is that the Christian scriptures are replete with warnings and exhortations to watch our doctrine carefully. Tradgedy and persecution are circumstances in which we must be even more vigilant, lest emotionalism wins the day.

What of the warnings about being "unequally yoked" with unbelievers? It seems to me that participation in an event or gathering which ASSUMES all religions speak equal truth is tantamount to denying the truth of one's own faith. Context. Even Jesus didn't tell all the truth all the time.

How did Elijah deal with the false prophets of Baal? Did he have a prayer meeting or tea party with them? No... he drew a clear contrast. That's what the true Christian church needs to be doing in a day like today, when postmodernism and liberal mushy-gushy theology like the Ba'hais are encroaching all the more. Sure Christ trumps all. But that doesn't mean that it's appropriate for Christians to pray with non-Christians.

I'm not sure what you mean by "accelerated" theological exegesis. Nor do I concede that because Scripture guides us to avoid something we are "fearful" if we heed the warning.

As far as Protestantism goes, I am not so comfortable counting myself (and Lutheranism) in that camp. But we can talk more about that too if you desire...

Scott said...

Sir - I appreciate your balanced response - after reviewing my orginal post - I could have been more balanced myself. I apologize. However, having said that, I come from a military career of 26 years in the United States Navy, as a Hospital Corpsman - and my experience of prayer, among all faiths, as practiced by our Chaplains, is one of strength and faith - not divisiveness. In moments of crisis and pain, the comfort of God's grace is offered - whether it's received or not is between the one in pain and God. In other words - we extend our faith to those suffering - without fear of appropriateness. Now, I understand that position may be problematic from a theological perspective in terms of salvation for the suffering. Bear in mind, though, that this grace is offered to those wearing the same uniform - committed to the same mission - prepared to surrender their life for the sake of a fellow Sailor or Soldier - these are not religious politicians concerned about the encroachment on the one truth.
Again, I want to thank you for your balanced response to me. I respect your conviction and commitment. Religous conviction is not democratic - the truth is the truth - as you point out. However, we live in a democracy, and if people believe that meeting in a home, among various faiths, will prevent additional violence - perhaps that is what we need more of, not less. The fact that these gatherings can devolve into arguments or fights, as you mentioned in your original post, doesn't make them ineffective - it only demonstrates the need for a continued conversation - that is, if we're all going to live peacefully together in this country. And while living peacefully together may not be the goal of any particular religious denomination - as long as we're a democracy - it should be our goal as citizens.
Again Sir, - I sincerely appreciate your gentle response

Preachrboy said...

Scott -

I can't argue with your experience. And I agree with most of what you say in the above comment. But it seems to me we are speaking of slightly different things.

It's one thing for a Chrisian clergyman to lead a prayer before a group of mixed-religion believers. Or to offer prayer and a word of encouragement for a suffering individual of whatever theology. I would do the same.

But the possible benefits of the kind of prayer meetings being suggested are laced with a poison. That poison is the pretense - the "backdrop" of them - that we all worship the same God. This is what I am specifically concerned with. Not people getting together to talk about peace. Not neighbors of different religions working together.

You seem to be saying, "we shouldn't blur the truth - but if we need to do it for a REALLY good reason (like in the face of violence) it's ok." Is this what you mean?

Martin Luther once said, "Truth at all costs. Peace if possible." I think that's a much better approach.

Thanks also, Scott, for your level-headed discussion of a touchy topic. A quick look at the Journal Times blog will show that not all my respondents are so rational.

Shanna said...

Very good dialogue...thank you! [grin]

Anonymous said...

Preacherboy,

You are right on. Stick to your guns!!!!!

Carl Vehse said...

"Something like that."

Well, let's be a little more specific. Here's some additional articles related to the attempted car theft and shooting (some links may required registering):

http://www.jsonline.com/news/racine/jan06/386055.asp
http://www.themilwaukeechannel.com/stepsaway/6368276/detail.html
http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2006/01/28/opinion/iq_3873250.txt
http://www.jsonline.com/news/racine/jan06/386460.asp

Some comments:

There appears to be a hoplophobic mentality in the Wisconsin news reports with biased language (e.g."vigilante", and referring to car thieves as "victims") slanted against someone who shot people who were attempting to steal his car at night (e.g., 4:15AM). (In Texas such a shooting would be legal.) Also, aren't prosecutors, rather than the police, supposed to "seek charges" against the accused? At least two reports noted that the shooting was not drug- or gang-related; none of the reports noted whether the attempted car theft was drug- or gang-related.

And first-degree murder charges?!? Either there is more going on than was reported, or the prosecutor is applying pressure to plea-bargain down to a lesser charge (disturbing the peace?) to boost Recine's conviction record.

One report combined the story with Racine police accomplishments during the past year (any improvements in reducing car thefts was not included).

The typical leftist techniques of blaming "the system" and playing the race card were evident in the article, "Work to change institutions and make them accountable", by the Rev. Michael Mueller, who is pastor of St. Andrews Lufauxran Church (E?CA), along with pastorette, Carol Baumgartner, who is also Rev. Mueller's wife.

Mueller ties the shooting in with the recent murder of Stefnee Goines. In fact, Goines, who was trying to get out of a car and away from her "boyfriend", was killed by "three gunshot wounds to the back of the head, one to the back of the right shoulder, two to the lower area of her back and one to her right hand." The sister of the "boyfriend" claims he told her his "gun had accidentally fired". Yeah, that's the ticket!

To add to the confusion in a town that has been referred to as "Madison South" (in Wisconsin, where the demonrat governor recently vetoed CCW legislation) last October the Racine Police Department got city council permission to use coloring books donated by the National Rifle Association at schools. The coloring books feature the character, Eddie Eagle, who teaches children responsibility about guns, and presumable how to distinguish coloring a nickel-finished revolver from a blue-steeled semi-automatic handgun.

Hey, maybe Grace Lutheran Church can sponsor an NRC gun safety class for the community.

Preachrboy said...

Carl,

Not sure where you are coming from here, but I wasn't intending to comment on the shooting itself. Just the suggestion of this interfaith prayer meeting.

The paper is obsessed with the shooting story (in fact, the headline today says the shooter is "No Angel" and tells of his previous trouble with the law.

I honestly think there is more to the story - and am cautious about going off half-cocked (if you'll pardon the expression) with conclusions about what should happen in this case.

I AM well aware of our liberal Lutheran counterparts in the town.

What is your connection to all this, Carl, are you my frequent Hales Corners visitor?

Carl Vehse said...

Here's some more links to the shooting case:

http://www.journaltimes.com/art/adrialcomplaint.pdf
http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2006/01/20/local/iq_3864221.txt
http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2006/02/01/local/iq_3883355.txt
http://www.jsonline.com/news/racine/jan06/387750.asp
http://www.thejournaltimes.com/nucleus/index.php?blogid=6

There appears to be a rift between
1. local residents concerned about increasing crime rates
2. the police who are sensitive about their slow response to reports of criminal activity
3. a district attorney who is out to convict Adrial White for premeditated first degree murder for shooting Christoper "Eric" Carbajal and his fellow car thieves, who have yet to be charged with trying to steal White's girlfriend's car at 4:15AM.
4. a leftwing state governor who just vetoed a bill permitting CCW guns
5. a clymer media who pushes the story for their own agenda
6. liberal Lutheran area churches and kook religionists who use the story to push their own "social gospel" agenda

The only one who's missing from this party is Jesse Jackson to defend Adrial White.

It should be noted that if White had done this in Texas, or Florida, or several other states, he would not have been charged with murder and may not have been charged with anything.

Being that the ADA filing the complaint is a Republican, I wonder why he is so determined to give White the death penalty or at least life in prison.

BTW, I have no connection to Racine or Wisconsin or Hales Corner. I just ran across this story on your blog and got curious about the phrase, "Something like that", which told me there was more to the story than just your link. And it looks like there is. We'll just have to see whether it all will come out.

Scott said...

Reverend,
I think you're right - we may be talking about different concepts. I believe in an absolute truth. Humans are not absolute - hence, nothing we do (or don't do) can add to, or subtract from, that absolute truth. Your comment;

You seem to be saying, "we shouldn't blur the truth - but if we need to do it for a REALLY good reason (like in the face of violence) it's ok." Is this what you mean?

To answer, "No." To me the comment indicates that we have some influence(e.g. the ability to blur or clarify)over the truth. In fact though, our only influence is over ourselves - to deceive ourselves or be deceived by others. The truth remains unadulterated.

If your concern is that we can be deceived from the truth - I'm with you on that point. If, however, your point is that the truth is somehow changed by interfaith worship - that the truth is compromised - then it isn't much of an absolute truth, is it? We may be compromised - but not the truth.

Why this is an important distinction, is what follows from it. If I am in secure possession of the truth, unswayed by the vagaries of human deception - then what compromise can ensue? If I am acting within the truth, all other deceptions must, by their "inabsoluteness," fall by the wayside. Therefore, those that would obsure or deny the truth cannot hold sway over those that possess the truth - in any environment - violent or otherwise.

To pull these strings together then, in an interfaith environment, constituted to address a social issue, - I am not concerned with the other participants' understanding or acceptance of the truth - if I am acting within the truth itself.

I can appreciate the concern for an interfaith gathering that proclaims, "We're all worshipping the same God ." I wouldn't argue for the validity of that proposition. However - that some human might make that statement at a gathering of which I attended - it carries no influence over the truth itself - nor am I culpable for somehow obscuring the truth - as I am incapable of doing so.

You are of the community in question, obviously - so your "on the ground" information is better than mine. Perhaps you're aware of human motives within this particular group that I am not. And while it's not necessary that you and agree - I am wondering now whether you believe that the truth can somehow be changed by human activity? If the truth can be changed, we are all lost. If it is we that must continue to grow and be guided by the immutable truth - well, then I would anticipate exactly the huge variance in human behavior that we experience in the world - If I must be in the world - then I perfer to walk freely with the truth - regardless of those deceived around me.

That pretty much wraps up my thoughts, and experience, on this topic. I tried to find a direct e-mail address for you and couldn't - and I'm reluctant to just post mine here for obvious reasons. So, I appreciate your time - if you respond to this post, I'll read it - but I won't be posting on the board again - perhaps I'll make an effort to get up to your Church and meet you - I appreciate your willingness to discuss things!

Ciao'
Scott

Preachrboy said...

Scott,

Jeremiah's message was, "Woe to the shepherds who lead the sheep astray". I take such warnings seriously in my role as pastor.

You are right, the truth won't change no matter WHAT we do. Truth is truth. Absolutely.

But we are charged with a responsibility to care for the truth - and to present it as clearly and faithfully as possible.

The truth itself may not be compromised by an interfaith gathering, but our testimony to it certainly can be (and often is).

We must speak the truth as clearly as possible, because if we don't, others can be deceived.

I highly encourage you to read the Preus article I have posted above. He does a much better job explaining things than I can.

Thanks for your comments, Scott. Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

Preacherboy,
Please clarify what the truth is. Do you mean the real truth or do you mean the facts? Please differentiate between the two for me. What is your source of truth?

Preachrboy said...

Well Christians understand that God's word is truth.

John 17:17
"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." (The words of Jesus)

If something contradicts it, then we know it's not true.

Anonymous said...

Preacherboy,
Would you please go to the RJT blog on, "Iran;Time to start blowing things up?" and read the two comments from "Anathema" on religion and Christianity. His comments seem to be very different from what you teach and preach.In fact, they seem to be arrogant to some degree. I will look for your reaction. Thank you.

Preachrboy said...

Having a hard time finding it. Do you have a link?

Anonymous said...

I think so!!!

Go to weblogs at top of page; go to weblog entitled;From the Right. Click on title and comments will come up.There are actually three comments from Anathema.

Preachrboy said...

Nevermind I found the link here:

http://www.journaltimes.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=3412#c

Without taking the time to adress his rather lenghty comments point-by-point, I can say I agree with much of what he says, I disagree with some of what he says, and I certainly wouldn't say most of it in such a bombastic way.

He uses some language which clues me in that he probably isn't Lutheran. I read some Evangelical Zionism type stuff in there too, which I would disagree with.

Is there a specific question you have about something he is saying? Because, frankly, I don't have the time or inclination to answer EVERYthing he said...

Preachrboy said...

I could also add this:

While I agree there is only one truth, and differing religions/denominations cannot both be right - I don't think Christians who are not Lutheran are going to Hell. They just have some wrong beliefs.

As for non-Christians, I don't know how you get around Jesus' clear words, "No one comes to the Father but by me" and accept the validity of NON-Christian religions.

Anathema's definition of Gentile is not what I have learned or taught.

I also agree with JAKC (you?) that all this is a separate discussion from what to do about Iran.

Carl Vehse said...

This Recine Journal Times website contains additional links to coverage on the attempted car theft and shooting in Racine. The Racine Journal is already advertising (one really can't call it "reporting") Adreal White as a "vigilante".