Author Topic: Does It Really Matter?  (Read 5814 times)

Mike Bennett

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2007, 07:13:25 PM »
Mike Bennett writes:
I can say I'd be very uncomfortable with the notion of joining in any part of "worship" at, say, the unitarian fellowship.  I'd bow my head during prayer in courtesy, but would not pray.

I comment:
Let me get this straight. If I am surrounded (fully? partially? in the same room with?) those "others," God doesn't hear my prayers? How do they do that? Keep God from hearing my prayers in a place like that? Or if I think those "others" are not even praying to the "real" God, how is it that my prayers are unheard and useless?

Well, I assume we're talking here about praying *with*, for instance, the unitarians.  I could pray to the most Most Holy Triune God while I sat in the unitarian meeting, and I don't expect that there's anything on the walls or ceiling that would block my prayers from reaching God's ears.  But I could not in good conscience pray *with* them, because they are not praying to God;  they're praying to some other god.  Further, if I feigned to be praying with them, I would be committing a very unloving act to those who observed (not that anybody but me would be paying attention to me, but I'm playing the whole thing out here) and thought that I was fine with the unitarian god.  Because, frankly, I still hold the backward view that there is one way to the Father, and that's the Son.  And that anybody who is seeking another way to the Father, or whoever their god is, is eternally lost.  I won't add to anybody's case of the vapors by being explicit about the fate of the lost, but as I understand Scripture, it isn't pretty.

Mike Bennett
“What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  2 Kings 9:22

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2007, 07:51:02 PM »
Here, I think, is where we can bring out the Catholic idea I have heard expressed- differentiating between coming together to pray and coming to pray together.

The former would be some type of "interreligious affair ala post 9/11.  The latter would be an ecumenical experience.

Matt+

Dan Fienen

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2007, 08:36:01 PM »
At the risk of over simplifying, an examination of 1 Corinthians 10 could be useful for this discussion.  A thorough study is beyond the scope of a post (and should probably include chapters 8 and 9), but Paul seems pretty clear that Christians should not participate in the worship of idols, both for our own sake that we keep faithful to God, and for the sake of others that they not be encouraged in thinking that worship is simply worship and the nominal addressee of that worship is unimportant.  Especially the witness to weak Christians is to be considered.

How this works out in specific situations can be difficult.  Not all situations are created equal.  Some observers may missinterpret the intentions of the Christian (in many different interpretations of the same event) and situations may be entered into thinking one sort of situation is intended and it end up something altogether different.  Things are not always what they seem and intentions can at times at least explain if they do not always excuse mistakes.

I think, I hope, that we can all agree that no matter what the event or why a Christian is at that event, a Christian will not direct his/her worship and prayer to any intended recipient other than the one true God, the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Paul, the God most clearly manifest in the person and work of Jesus, the Christ.  What others are doing around the Christian, and why the Christian is there is another matter - worthy of discussion perhaps.  But a Christian should only intentionally worship and pray to the one true God.  The problem with rushing to judgement of others is that we may not know all the facts and intentions and things may not always be what they seem on the surface.

(As an aside, it should be obvious that no one and no thing can prevent God from hearing the prayers of a Christian no matter where or what the situation.  For that matter, can we lay to rest the idea floated [not in this forum, I think] that God does not hear the prayers of non-Christians?  How could He not hear them, being omniscient and all?  What He does with what He hears is His concern and I won't try to tell Him what to do.  Besides, don't forget Matthew 5:45.)

Can I pray to the one true God in the midst of people praying to false Gods?  Certainly, and God would certainly hear me.  Whether He would be pleased with me being there is a more complicated and difficult question.  And certainly one on which sincere Christians may disagree.  For Christians to raise questions and make suggestions is certainly in order and we encourage each other to faithful worship, service and witness.  But let us not forget 1 Corinthians 10:29b, "For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience?" and Romans 14:4 "Who are you to judge someone else's servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  And he will stand for the Lord is able to make him stand."
« Last Edit: July 31, 2007, 08:41:07 PM by Dan Fienen »
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2007, 09:33:35 PM »
Just an odd thought.  Would my going to a non-Christian worship event and worshiping the non-Christian diety be roughly equivalent to going on a date (in the usual couple going out courting sense) with someone other than my wife?  I've never tried it but I have a pretty good idea what she would think of it.  I definately do not want to know experientially what God would think of it.  (The OT prophets had a few things to say about that kind of behavior.)

Dan

By the way - I picked the message icon labelled "cheesy" for this post but I don't think it really looks cheesy enough.  Sorry.
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JMOtterman

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2007, 10:01:30 PM »
Pastor McCain,

How might you be a witness in the world if you don't hang out in places with people that don't believe just like you do?  Your argument might be developed as a way to not have public school prayer.  My faith given me by God permits me to be with people that have no relationship with Jesus Christ, and being with people that tend to bag on Christianity in general gives me an opportunity to present Jesus Christ and Lutheranism where I might not have had the opportunity to do so before.  Even as they might be doing something pagan, cannot God find his way to reach me as I pray?  My faith in Christ Jesus is strong and no group of those who don't believe as I do will cause me to lose my faith.  My faith God given is a gift I share.  What of Paul in the book of Acts where he landed on the shore after a shipwreck and was bitten by a poisonous snake, he landed amidst a people that didn't know God were pagans, but turned their belief to God because Paul did not die.  If I am sheltered in my own space then how can I ever share my Christian faith with those who have never heard the story Jesus the Christ?

Unless of course, I see that in your use of Luther you are proposing your belief in double predestination; those that are chosen as the damned are damned and those that are in the Elect well, you would never need to, leave to worship somewhere else would you?

Problem is Luther was at most a theologian that believed in single predistination; that is we are all damned and its by God's mercy and gift that we are justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus yet his colleague Melanchthon believed in double predestination and can understand your preoccupation with control issues, I know too because I have 'em as well.  Which one is right I do not know.  But I choose to be with both those that believe in Jesus Christ and be with those that for the most part hate Christians because of arguments just like these.  I go to baptize and make disciples to all nations in Christ Jesus not according to the heresies we continue to bounce about but just going as I am sent to where you live.

If everyone is already chosen/ damned or elect/ then logic would suffice that you must stay in your buildings and only worship with those who believe just as you do.  For you already believe that some of these folks are unreachable but I am sure you are not intending this or are you?  I find your use of Luther though is tragic and if he were here with us now he would drink us both under the table and straighten all of us out for sure.

PJ

peter_speckhard

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2007, 11:21:13 PM »
PJ-- I don't think anyone was suggesting not hanging out with non-Christians at all. There is, after all, more to witnessing than joint worship. If they people are fit to be in the presence of God in worship then they don't really need to be witnessed to anyway. And yes, I know God is everywhere so we're all in His presence all the time, but the local presence of God in Word and Sacrament requires faith. Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service? And of course God can hear your prayer--He is hears your prayers no more or less because of the presence of unbelievers, so the only issue is not the prayer itself but the public witness of the prayer. By your reasoning, Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments--God would have known to whom they were praying. But the whole point is that other people wouldn't have known. It would have been fine as a prayer, but a betrayal as a public witness.

JMOtterman

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2007, 12:29:21 AM »
PJ-- I don't think anyone was suggesting not hanging out with non-Christians at all. There is, after all, more to witnessing than joint worship. If they people are fit to be in the presence of God in worship then they don't really need to be witnessed to anyway. And yes, I know God is everywhere so we're all in His presence all the time, but the local presence of God in Word and Sacrament requires faith. Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service? And of course God can hear your prayer--He is hears your prayers no more or less because of the presence of unbelievers, so the only issue is not the prayer itself but the public witness of the prayer. By your reasoning, Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments--God would have known to whom they were praying. But the whole point is that other people wouldn't have known. It would have been fine as a prayer, but a betrayal as a public witness.

Where do you get the reasoning that I would imply that Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments?

Their witness to God is that they are slaves to these countrymen and in not bowing their faith is tested and rewarded by God, they were being forced to do something against their will.  Most people that I know are not forced to do something against their will anywhere in these United States of America.  We, as westerners create issues as a point of rhetoric for agendas that fit our needs and beliefs and think that in so doing we are just like Shadrach and the boys, although I am probably now steppin in it big time.  You all of people know the counter arguments about masters and servants in the New Testament don't they apply as well?  When you are forced to go against your conscience then the issue is truly at hand, that was what Luther was about was it not?  Luther must recant?  What did Luther say? 


Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service?  What does this mean?  I believe you or someone else can give a reason for the hope...I still don't know what you mean. 

Further for you to suggest what others think or suggest is your opinion, I know you were probably writing in haste.  I appreciate your opinion but it seems to me that you are overstepping when you state that "I don't think anyone" of those who had written before you or I, of whom will probably kick me in the rear for other more cogent reasons, just the same as you, without your help.  But thanks for illuminating my mind to the possibilities of that reality.

PJ

ptmccain

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2007, 06:56:19 AM »
Quote
How might you be a witness in the world if you don't hang out in places with people that don't believe just like you do?

I did not say: Christians are not to "hang out" in any place where there are people who don't believe as we do.

I did say: Christians are not to participate in the worship service and rites of non-Christians.

« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 07:21:20 AM by ptmccain »

ptmccain

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2007, 07:28:16 AM »
Would my going to a non-Christian worship event and worshiping the non-Christian diety be roughly equivalent to going on a date (in the usual couple going out courting sense) with someone other than my wife?

Dan, you are exactly right, but the Scriptures are even more blunt about it. Participating in the worship services of non-Christians is spiritual adultery, it would be not simply going out on a date with a woman not your wife, but taking her home and having sexual relations with her.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2007, 07:37:19 AM »
But if there are Christians planning and leading the services, perhaps along with others, are not the services at least in some measure "Christian"?

And I have a later worry about the poster upstream who said at such a service he might "bow his head out of respect," but not pray. Watch out! Someone just might think that one who does that is actually praying, thereby prompting all kinds of charges and potential damage to one's career.

ptmccain

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2007, 07:38:58 AM »
Repeating: Christians are not to participate in the worship service and rites of non-Christians.

The one, true God does not permit Himself to be given "equal time" with pagan non-gods.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2007, 07:46:20 AM »
PJ-- I don't think anyone was suggesting not hanging out with non-Christians at all. There is, after all, more to witnessing than joint worship. If they people are fit to be in the presence of God in worship then they don't really need to be witnessed to anyway. And yes, I know God is everywhere so we're all in His presence all the time, but the local presence of God in Word and Sacrament requires faith. Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service? And of course God can hear your prayer--He is hears your prayers no more or less because of the presence of unbelievers, so the only issue is not the prayer itself but the public witness of the prayer. By your reasoning, Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments--God would have known to whom they were praying. But the whole point is that other people wouldn't have known. It would have been fine as a prayer, but a betrayal as a public witness.

Where do you get the reasoning that I would imply that Shadrach and the boys should have just gone ahead and bowed at the sound of the instruments?

Their witness to God is that they are slaves to these countrymen and in not bowing their faith is tested and rewarded by God, they were being forced to do something against their will.  Most people that I know are not forced to do something against their will anywhere in these United States of America.  We, as westerners create issues as a point of rhetoric for agendas that fit our needs and beliefs and think that in so doing we are just like Shadrach and the boys, although I am probably now steppin in it big time.  You all of people know the counter arguments about masters and servants in the New Testament don't they apply as well?  When you are forced to go against your conscience then the issue is truly at hand, that was what Luther was about was it not?  Luther must recant?  What did Luther say? 


Can't I give a reason for the hope that is in without a woship service?  What does this mean?  I believe you or someone else can give a reason for the hope...I still don't know what you mean. 

Further for you to suggest what others think or suggest is your opinion, I know you were probably writing in haste.  I appreciate your opinion but it seems to me that you are overstepping when you state that "I don't think anyone" of those who had written before you or I, of whom will probably kick me in the rear for other more cogent reasons, just the same as you, without your help.  But thanks for illuminating my mind to the possibilities of that reality.

PJ
I didn't mean to suggest you thought Shadrach and the boys should have prayed, but only the logic behind joint prayer with non-Christians (God can sort it out) also can support such a conclusion. My suggestion that nobody thought Christians ought not hang out with non-Christians was merely a response to your question to Paul, in which you asked how we can witness if we aren't in places with people who do not believe as we do. I was trying to distinguish between mission/witness activity and prayer/worship activity, which can easily become confused, maybe not by you but by a lot of people I know. But at any rate, you are right, I was typing in haste late at the Youth Gathering and probably not making my points as well as I should have.

JMOtterman

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2007, 09:50:48 AM »
Repeating: Christians are not to participate in the worship service and rites of non-Christians.

The one, true God does not permit Himself to be given "equal time" with pagan non-gods.

Being that the pagan non-gods don't exist, does God care?  I realize you care.

PJ

JMOtterman

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2007, 10:13:29 AM »
Peter,

How is it going at your youth gathering?  Your paragraph now makes all the sense in the world, writing in haste with not much sleep and students always on the go possibly means controlled chaos at best and more than likely not that controlled.  My prayers are with you as you continue to lead your students and disciple followers of Jesus Christ.

Peace,

PJ

scott3

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Re: Does It Really Matter?
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2007, 10:26:32 AM »
Repeating: Christians are not to participate in the worship service and rites of non-Christians.

The one, true God does not permit Himself to be given "equal time" with pagan non-gods.

Being that the pagan non-gods don't exist, does God care?  I realize you care.

PJ

Exodus 20:1-6 (ESV)
1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.


Exodus 34:13-16 (ESV)
13 You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.


Deuteronomy 6:14-15 (ESV)
14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you, 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God, lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.


Deuteronomy 32:21 (ESV)
21 They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.


PJ,

I think He does care.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 10:29:55 AM by Scott._.Yaki mow »