Praying with Pagans

The President of the Southern Baptist Convention has complained that no member of America’s largest Protestant denomination will be on the program for the Tenth Anniversary of 9-11 in Washington D.C. this week.  A Buddhist nun is featured at the National Cathedral  event alongside a Muslim Imam and a Jewish rabbi, but not one Evangelical voice will be heard in the “concert of prayer.”  Meanwhile in New York City, the official observance there will be even more limited.  The Mayor has refused to include any religious leaders or even schedule a prayer.

I can understand the feelings of fellow Christians who protest that we have been slighted.  Some have appealed to our nation’s Christian foundations.  Others have argued that our politically correct culture demands that every voice must be heard.  But in all honesty, I don’t feel slighted or offended at all.  I’m sorry that certain public officials don’t recognize the authority of Jesus Christ or the contributions of His Church, but I avoid “interfaith” worship services like the plague!  I’m convinced they do more harm than good.

Can you imagine a world renowned MD sharing the platform at a Cancer Treatment seminar with a masseuse, a witch doctor, and a vitamin supplement salesman?  No self respecting oncologist would ever intentionally be a part of such a charade.  And if by chance, he should find himself in a situation like that, you can be sure he would use his time at the podium to warn cancer patients they should never be deceived by scam artists who don’t practice real medicine!

That’s why I can’t cooperate in a religious undertaking with people whose religion I consider false and destructive.  Granted, I can align myself with all kinds of people on the basis of being fellow Americans- or even fellow human beings.  I can work alongside a devout Muslim in constructing a house for Habitat for Humanity.  I can labor alongside a devout Buddhist serving hungry people in a soup line.  I love people like that and I respect their right as Americans to worship any god or no god at all.  I am happy to pray for them, and I frequently do.  But when I pray for a Muslim friend, I pray to Jesus Christ, not Allah.

Elijah didn’t pray with the prophets of Baal when he appeared with them at Mount Carmel.  To the contrary, he wanted to make it crystal clear that the God of Israel was alive and well, in contrast to Baal who was non-existent.  When Paul appeared amid the pagan idols of Athens on Mars Hill, he did indeed acknowledge that the Athenians were very religious.  But he then proceeded to show the universal authority of one God, Jesus Christ, whose name did not appear on any of the splendid monuments nearby.

That’s why I’m not interested in sharing a platform to pray with people of other religions.  I love them too much to risk confusing them.  What I really want to share with them all is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Lift up the Cross!


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