24 April, 2008

"Malicious" for Jesus?


Below is the response from the National Day of Prayer Task Force to the post on Slice of Laodicea about Ravi Zacherias' generic Jesus-less prayer. Incredible. This is Shirley Dobson's organization? Read through this and tell me if this sounds like something a real follower of Christ would say.


Keep in mind, Ingrid just reported the truth and copied the prayer on her website. This is a classic example of attacking the messenger because she tells a negative truth.


It’s been brought to our attention that Ingrid Schlueter, host of the national Crosstalk radio program and chief architect of the SliceofLaodicea.com Web site, has been spreading malicious reports about the National Day of Prayer, NDP Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson, and Dr. Ravi Zacharias, our NDP 2008 Honorary Chairman. According to Ms. Schlueter, Dr. Zacharias is “refusing to pray in the name of Jesus Christ in his prayer posted on the official NDP Web site,” and is thus liable to the charge of being “ashamed” of Jesus and “capitulating to unscriptural, interfaith ecumenism.” Much as we regret the necessity of countenancing such comments with a response, Ms. Schlueter has left us without a choice. Her scurrilous accusations demand a reply.
There are three things that need to be said in answer to this unfortunate campaign of defamation. In the first place, no one who knows anything about Ravi Zacharias and his fearless defense of the Christian faith could possibly come to the conclusion that he is “ashamed of Jesus Christ.” Dr. Zacharias is one of the most respected, most effective, and most uncompromising Christian apologists in the world today. His love for the Lord is beyond question. His ministry speaks for itself. We can’t possibly add anything to the eloquent testimony of his dedicated service to the Savior.


Second, for those who are aware of the history of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, there can be no doubt about our evangelical perspective. Our Mission Statement and our Vision and Values Statement, as posted on the official NDP Web site (http://www.ndptf.org/about/index.cfm), state that the Task Force represents a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible. Calling ourselves a Judeo-Christian ministry does not mean that we see the Jewish and Christian faiths on equal footing. The Task Force was established to represent the Christian expression of the National Day of Prayer – standing firmly for Jesus and His salvation message. We believe in the values, traditions, and moral law of God’s Old Testament Bible – but we, unlike those of the Jewish faith – trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Messiah.


Third and last, it is worth adding that, from a scriptural perspective, there is a great deal more to the idea of “praying in Jesus’ name” than Ms. Schlueter seems to recognize. In the culture of the Bible, a person’s “name” was regarded as shorthand for everything the person embodied and represented. To make a request or issue a command “in the name of” a particular individual was to speak with the full backing of that individual’s power, authority, virtue, and integrity. “Praying in Jesus’ name,” then, is not a question of tacking on a few particular words at the end of a prayer, as if they constituted some kind of “magic formula.” It’s a matter of heart orientation. To “pray in Jesus’ name” is to profess that we are authorized to come boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) not on the basis of our own merits, but solely because of His righteousness, His goodness, and the efficacy of His sacrifice on the cross. You can be absolutely sure that when Dr. Zacharias prays, he prays on the basis of this confidence alone. In closing, we’d like to say that we deeply regret that this unfounded attack by fellow believers might in any way detract from the importance of Christians praying for their nation on May 1st.


Does anyone find the last paragraph confusing? Ingrid has some great commentary on this statement at Slice of Laodicea.


My question now becomes: Is the National Day of Prayer 'promoting' prayers to all 'gods'?

12 comments:

Meloff said...

In the culture of the Bible, a person’s “name” was regarded as shorthand for everything the person embodied and represented. To make a request or issue a command “in the name of” a particular individual was to speak with the full backing of that individual’s power, authority, virtue, and integrity. “Praying in Jesus’ name,” then, is not a question of tacking on a few particular words at the end of a prayer, as if they constituted some kind of “magic formula.” It’s a matter of heart orientation.

And I thought praying in Jesus' name was simply what he told us to do. "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." John 14: 13 & 14

Lin said...

I just could not figure out what they were trying to communicate with that last paragraph. Are they saying that God knows his heart so if he does not acknowledge Jesus in this instance, it is ok?

What on earth are they saying? I agree with you and know that Jesus Christ must be glorified.

Scott said...

Interesting rebuttal on their part. As a way of comment I want to observe the following (response letter in italics, mine in normal font)

In the first place, no one who knows anything about Ravi Zacharias and his fearless defense of the Christian faith could possibly come to the conclusion that he is “ashamed of Jesus Christ.”

Knowing Zacharias' reputation (and only by such, since I don't read him or know him personally) this would seem accurate. Therefore, this point is probably a valid one.

Second, for those who are aware of the history of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, there can be no doubt about our evangelical perspective.

This point is less black and white. "Evangelical perspective" has been so convoluted in theological conversations as to have no meaning without purposeful definition before using the phrase. The way I understand it is to be purposeful to present Jesus Christ in every way possible. That is not very clear in the information given here.

Third and last, it is worth adding that, from a scriptural perspective, there is a great deal more to the idea of “praying in Jesus’ name”...To “pray in Jesus’ name” is to profess that we are authorized to come boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) not on the basis of our own merits, but solely because of His righteousness, His goodness, and the efficacy of His sacrifice on the cross.

Well spoken. But, the argument goes on to say...

You can be absolutely sure that when Dr. Zacharias prays, he prays on the basis of this confidence alone.

Why not do so, then, and leave no doubt?

The issue is not whether Zacharias is "ashamed" of Jesus. For me the issue is why is he not being "bold" for Jesus when given such a large national stage?

For that matter, are we, collectively and individually, bold enough in our own lives given the chance?

I know I am not. I know I need to be.

Lin said...

"The issue is not whether Zacharias is "ashamed" of Jesus. For me the issue is why is he not being "bold" for Jesus when given such a large national stage? "

Maybe you can help me out and tell me why the NDOP (started by Shirley Dobson who is still involved) has decided that they have to be inclusive by excluding Jesus Christ. This is their policy for public prayer...not a personal decision by Zacharais. He is, however, going right along with it.

That makes me think 'pargraph one' made be overstated a bit. :o)

Is it better to offend Christ than man?

Scott said...

Lin,

I can't speak to that as I don't know. I can hardly speak of the National Day of Prayer thing because I really don't pay attention to it. To me its all a big show anyway.

I have a hard enough time paying attention to my own DAILY prayers much less worrying about somebody who may or not be praying or may or may not be ashamed of Jesus.

If I am to call him on the carpet then I better darn well be sure I am wearing out two spots on the carpet with my own knees in prayer first.

Lin said...

We will have to disagree on this one, buddy. This is a man who makes his living as an Apologist for the faith, and who has agreed not to mention Jesus so he won't offend folks. Sounds to me like a cry of appeal from fellow believers is in order. I don't think you have a log in your eye here, do you? If that is the case, what preacher could preach on sin?

I have to wonder how many in the pews think this is ok because someone as important and learned as Zacharias has said it is ok?

There is no reason for them to call the messenger who brought this to our attention as 'malicious' and saying it was an unfounded attack? Their response only makes it worse!

How is it an attack to report the truth?

Oh, I know we know the answers to this.

But you are right. It is a big show.

BTW: I have some insights from my readings on Barth to share with you. :o)

TMAC said...

So Ravi has a ministry that speaks for itself? Seems like Peter did too. Paul didn't care. He called Peter on the carpet PUBLICLY for being ashamed of his associtation with certain believers. He sided with, ironically enough, the Jews and Paul set about to set the record straight regardless of who Peter was or what his background was as an original member of the 12.

The bottom line is (obviously) that Ravi intentionally excluded the name of Jesus in order not to offend. WHAT?!? Where is the Biblical justification for that? Paul went on to clearly state that we are not to stand ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. If the name of Jesus offended anyone then let them take it up with God.

We don't have to enjoy offending, or compound the offense with an arrogant attitude, but if we aren't bold enough to proclaim Jesus, even in our prayers, then where does it end?

Do the Jewish leaders not know Ravi is a Christian? Are they under the impression that he doesn't accept Christ as Messiah? If they do, then how could they be offended at his consistency in prayer. If they didn't, then he has much larger problems to deal with.

Scott said...

Lin,

To tell the truth a preacher who can't say he struggles with what he preaches really isn't worth a plug nickel. Thanks for the encouragement, that is always needful among the brethren.

As far as the NDOP stuff, I had forgotten about any national organization. Oh, well. I guess they had a big impact on my spirituality...NOT! LOL

Lin said...

Yikes! Scott, I was not rebuking you. I was making the point that if we cannot call out public sin because we have sin then preachers can't preach on it, either. :o)

(You are one of the rare humble ones)

Scott said...

Oops! I didn't think you were rebuking. I only meant to praise you for your encouragement. LOL

Junkster said...

Hi, Lin,
Maybe I missed it -- where did you get the info that RZ "agreed not to mention Jesus so he won't offend folks"?

Lin said...

Hey Junk!

right here is the prayer:

http://www.ndptf.org/story/Index.cfm?Entity=9&Department=9&Dept_Order=1&This_TopicOrder=19&This_SubtopicOrder=2#5

Here also is the original story:

http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/?p=649

Ingrid called them was told that Jesus was not used so as not to offend folks.

Sorry about the links...you know how I am about links....:o)