Another interfaith prayer service: WWDPD? (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

Another interfaith prayer service has been announced. WWDPD? What Would a District President Do? Let’s find out.

The location of the upcoming interfaith prayer service will be Fort Wayne, Indiana. The mayor of Fort Wayne, along with several interfaith leaders, announced the service on Tuesday, as reported yesterday in an article in The Journal Gazette, Mayor endorses event to celebrate all faiths.

FORT WAYNE – Sounding as much like a religious leader as a politician and civil servant, Mayor Tom Henry on Tuesday called people of all faiths in Fort Wayne to prayer.

Flanked by a Christian minister, an Islamic imam and an IPFW university teacher of religious studies, the mayor announced from his office that he had developed and was supporting a May 5 event that will include prayers, singing, dances and readings from eight religious traditions represented in the city – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Unitarian-Universalism and Baha’i.

“Prayers for the City – A Celebration of One Community, Many Faiths” will take place at 4 p.m. in the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, formerly the Scottish Rite Center.

Let’s see, it was announced by the mayor. . . . So that must make it a civic event, right?

He said it was developed with the help of the Rev. Terry Anderson, executive director of Fort Wayne’s Interfaith Hospitality Network program for the homeless; Imam J. Tamir Rasheed of the Fort Wayne Islamic Center; and Michael Spath, continuing lecturer at IPFW and head of the Northeast Indiana Center for Middle East Peace.

All are longtime participants in, and advocates for, inter-religious dialogue.

“Dialogue”! The magic word!

However, not all area denominations will be participating.

When asked about recent news that a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor had been reprimanded and apologized to members after participating in an interfaith prayer event after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut, organizers acknowledged that theological differences might keep some away. But, they said, they wanted to invite the entire city.

How could anyone NOT participate?! This is an opportunity for witness in the public square! If we’re not there, why, someone else will say something! Surely we will have an LCMS minister there, giving a clear Christian witness in the public square at this civic event!

In a telephone interview after the news conference, the Rev. Daniel May of Fort Wayne, president of the Indiana District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said its pastors and officials would not take part because the event “contradicts Scripture.”

WHAT???

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, May said, takes Jesus at face value when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the father but by me.”

“If we’re there and we participate, it sort of gives the impression that all religions are good and equally valid and all roads lead to the same place, and that would be to contradict that scripture,” he said.

“One guy praying to Allah and one guy standing up and praying to this god or that god – that’s really not what we believe, teach and confess. So in good conscience, if we are really honest to ourselves, we couldn’t do that.”

Kudos to Indiana District President Dan May! WWDPD? He would get it exactly right, that’s what he would do. (BTW, the lower-case “father” [sic]–that’s on the newspaper, not on May.)

Notice, DP May does not cite some CTCR report with a serial-prayer loophole in it big enough to drive a truck through. He cites Holy Scripture, specifically, Christ’s words about the exclusive nature of the Christian faith. DP May rightly points to the misleading witness that participation in an interfaith service gives, i.e., that all these religions are equally valid. And the serial nature of interfaith prayer services–one guy praying after another–does not change the inherent problem.

May said Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastors and members would be able to offer prayers for the city in their own congregations. . . .

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod may join in interfaith community service projects or activism in conformity with the denomination’s values, May said.

So it’s not like we in the LCMS don’t care about our communities. It’s just that we don’t join in religious rites with representatives of religious bodies with which we are not in fellowship, even when those religious rites are done seriatim or mixed with civic elements. DP May gets it right.

Good for DP May! He has given a clear Christian witness right here in this brief phone interview! Would that every DP said it as clearly!


Comments

Another interfaith prayer service: WWDPD? (by Pr. Charles Henrickson) — 41 Comments

  1. The referenced Journal-Gazette article, “Mayor endorses event to celebrate all faiths,” Mayor Tom Henry explains why he is going gushy syncretic with an interfaith “Prayers for the City – A Celebration of One Community, Many Faiths”:

    This is “the first time to pray for our city in general,” Henry said, adding he was asking for prayer “to face the challenges that are facing our city, state and our country.” Among them, he said, are the still-struggling economy and concerns about crime in Fort Wayne.

    Maybe the mayor can get his Clarabell clerics to pray that Fort Wayne residents and soon-to-be-annexed county residents don’t notice the large tax and utility fee increases they will face to make up for TIF (Tax Increment Financing) districts established and tax abatements awarded to political-campaign-contributing businesses. And maybe the clerics can sing and tapdance amid the smoke-and-mirrors political mantra noted in the article, “Fort Wayne Taxes Going Up: Officials Blame Property Tax Caps.”

  2. Dear Pastor Henrickson,

    Thanks very much for this great news!

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Please notice something here. Because the LCMS does something different, we get “press coverage.” The press coverage that asks “Why are you not doing this?” Just like the children of the Israelites would ask their dads, at various times in the festival year, “Why are you doing this father?”

    And then the faithful Lutheran is ready with a word from Jesus on the subject. And all the people (of whatever Christian denomination) who have the Holy Spirit, who accept the authority of Scripture, and who listen to Jesus’ voice say, “AMEN, BROTHER!”

    People who have known me for years, who live in many different states, ask how things are going here in Indiana. Among other things, I tell them that I have one of the very best–and most experienced–District Presidents in the LCMS. I am in a position to know these things, and the news today confirms my confidence in his leadership, tact, and wisdom.

    May all of our synodical and district leaders take note of President May’s fine and evangelical example, and be ready to make their confession when the time comes–because it will!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  3. Kudos to DP May.

    It does beg the question though, if he did the right thing then why are we leaving another fine DP in Timothy Yeadon (I know him personally) in his error on Newtown. I don’t think we can have it both ways.

    This sort of inconsistency destroys an institution, not to mention that this is not about inconsistency and institutions but right, wrong, sin, repentance and the Gospel.

  4. You have to wonder why Muslim Imams show up at all these interfaith events, when the Quran clearly teaches that Islam is the only way. There are liberal Muslims and Imams, of course, but I don’t think the Imams showing up at most of these events are liberals. I think it has more to do with the Islamic doctrine of deception: http://www.answering-islam.org/Index/T/taqiyya.html

  5. The part that makes me recoil is the “celebrate all faiths” part.

    If they want to do a Family Fun Day to celebrate people of all faiths, and have games and food booths and Habitat for Humanity or other charities and awareness stuff about community, etc., but no prayers, worship etc., then okay.

    It is the co-worship that is so offensive, not the harmonious diverse community aspect.

    Really these interfaith services are what my mother used to call nasty-nice. They are sugar-coated crap and attacks on true faith.

  6. Nicholas :
    You have to wonder why Muslim Imams show up at all these interfaith events, when the Quran clearly teaches that Islam is the only way. There are liberal Muslims and Imams, of course, but I don’t think the Imams showing up at most of these events are liberals. I think it has more to do with the Islamic doctrine of deception: http://www.answering-islam.org/Index/T/taqiyya.html

    Muslims believe they worship the same God as Christians. We would dispute this, but that is what they believe. I have very nice Muslim friends, and they say God is one, so the differences between the two faiths are not that stirring to them. They are the liberal types, of course not fanatics.

  7. Bravo DP May for your courage and steadfastness! Thank you Pastor Henrickson for posting this! Soli Deo Gloria

  8. Great response from DP May. Would that the other DP’s and pastors in the LCMS make such a confession/reply when invited to join in any interfaith/unionistic affairs.

  9. @Mrs. Hume #8
    I have very nice Muslim friends, and they say God is one, so the differences between the two faiths are not that stirring to them.

    I had a Hindu colleague [she retired recently] who insisted that the god she referenced was the same as mine, “because all roads lead to god”. She didn’t believe in Jesus Christ or His divinity. So her god cannot be my God.

    The Muslims I know are very ‘nice’ people, but they don’t believe in Christ as the Son of God either. [They do believe (according to the Quran) that is is permissible, even virtuous, to lie to “infidels”.]

  10. @Martin R. Noland #3
    Among other things, I tell them that I have one of the very best–and most experienced–District Presidents in the LCMS.

    It probably doesn’t hurt that he has CTS in the district either. But thank you for telling us. It explains your rather rosier view of synod. Would that we all had faithful DP’s!
    [But “we’re Texas”] 🙁

  11. Originally, in the US, when there was a civic call for a Day of Prayer, it was meant that each faith community would gather at their own house of worship for prayer. In ancient times (except in Israel) when there was a civic ceremony of prayer to which all citizens were called, it was in worship of false gods or the government leader himself, and Christians and Jews refused to participate, even knowing it could mean death. Participating in such events clearly conveys the message that worship is one and paths are many.

  12. @helen #14

    Dear Helen,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Regarding my “rosier view of synod,” I have been encouraged by many things in recent years:

    1) election of Matthew Harrison in 2010;
    2) election of a great bunch of Vice-Presidents in 2010;
    3) election of a great bunch of other officers and board members in 2010;
    4) 2010 convention “putting on the brakes” to the worst aspects of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure, and to Res. 8-30B and Res. 8-32B;
    5) beginning of, and ongoing work, on the Koinonia Project;
    6) restructuring of the national offices, without major problems, and the addition of excellent executives and staff;
    7) election of a fresh batch of young and conservative District Presidents in 2012;
    8) University Lutheran Chapel being resoundingly supported by the MNS convention in 2012;
    9) retirement of pro-Seminex LCMS pastors for generational reasons;
    10) continued faithfulness of both LCMS seminaries;
    11) Higher Things getting greater recognition by LCMS;
    12) restoration of Issues,etc. to KFUO;
    13) Steadfast Lutherans on KFUO;
    14) Real improvements in design and content of “Lutheran Witness;
    15) President Harrison’s forthright stand on the HHS Mandate;
    etc., etc.

    Besides all that, I truly believe that Christ will be with his Church until the end of the ages (Matthew 28:20). Since I believe that our LCMS is a true visible church–though not the only one–I know that he is with us, and guiding us, through all our problems, and our corporate and personal ups and downs.

    What can be more encouraging than the real presence of Jesus with us, through thick and thin, which we Lutherans confess boldly through our belief in His presence in His Supper?

    My contact lenses are tinted blue, by the way, not rose. 🙂

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  13. Rev. Noland,
    You state: 7) election of a fresh batch of young and conservative District Presidents in 2012.

    Could you please list who these DP’s are? Thanks!

  14. @Martin R. Noland #16
    14) Real improvements in design and content of “Lutheran Witness;

    Thank you for the run down…. we could discuss a few of those;
    I’ll leave it at the one I noticed last night.

    Easter is March 31. How much reference to Easter did you find in your March Witness [synodical part]? (If you say more than one page, I’ll believe you get a different Witness in your district, too.)

    I believe it’s Pr. Heath Curtis I have to thank for that page, though I don’t have it here.

    You might tell me where the “fresh batch” of DP’s are; all the ones I read about were either re elected or “retired, but more of the same to follow”. [I really don’t want to be either pessimistic, or ill-informed!]

  15. Marty,

    With all due respect (I hate that phrase), I do not think we can count the DP’s en masse as conservative and liturgical or even as a weak majority. There are two huge pieces of prima facia evidence that stand in the way of such a conclusion. They elected a liberal, cowo DP as COP Chair (Rev. Stoterau from So-Cal) and they published a nearly useless letter that was predominantly political on Newtown (which letter was a far cry in spirit from DP May’s actions recorded in this post).

  16. The Missouri Synod is having its own prayer service in St. Louis on April 18-19. Excerpted from a March 20, 2013, Reporter article, “Third ‘PRAY’ event set for mid-April,”:

    “PRAY2013” — a synodwide event designed to bring Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Lutherans together to pray for a variety of topics — will be held from 2 p.m. April 18 until 3 p.m. April 19 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (St. Louis airport) in St. Louis.

    Under the theme “Falling to Rise,” the event is designed to give participants an opportunity “to consider and lift in prayer those things that hinder the expansion of the Kingdom of God through the LCMS,” according to a news release from organizers Rev. Dr. Victor J. Belton and Rev. Cliff Bira. “Our denomination [sic] does many things very well but could be even more effective as the grace of prayer [?] is applied by those who long to see the influence of Christ extended through us.

    Prayers will be guided by scriptural texts from Joshua 5-6 and Mark 4.

    Registration is $60 and includes meals.

  17. Nicholas :
    You have to wonder why Muslim Imams show up at all these interfaith events, when the Quran clearly teaches that Islam is the only way. There are liberal Muslims and Imams, of course, but I don’t think the Imams showing up at most of these events are liberals. I think it has more to do with the Islamic doctrine of deception: http://www.answering-islam.org/Index/T/taqiyya.html

    from Wikipedia:
    Taqiyya تقية (alternate spellings taqiyeh,taqiya, taqiyah, tuqyah) is a form of religious dissimulation,[1] or a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are at risk of significant persecution.

  18. Helen @ 19 I don’t think the Lutheran Witness made a liturgical faux pas in keeping the March issue pre-Easter season. Not to say company makes something better, but our church newsletter did the same thing. 🙂 Not because our pastor forgot about Easter, or anything ridiculous like that, but because March 31st really is practically April 1st, at least as far as I and others are concerned. Lutheran Witness has gotten remarkably better. Kudos to Adriane Dorr and her writers!

  19. DP May has given a faithful Christ-centered witness in and to the public square by lifting up the eternal truth that the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. May’s quoting of Jn 14:6 is right-on rather than the Roman Catholic approach used by many in Synod that quotes documents produced by councils, i.e,. the Council of Presidents, or the CTCR, which Luther rightly said can and do err.

    Thank you DP May for being a “confessing” Lutheran DP.

    Karl Weber, Pastor

  20. helen :
    @Joe Strieter #21
    Joe, if you will type a colon : followed immediately by an ending paren ) (no space between), you can “insert smiley” wherever you like.

    Like this? 🙂

    O M’gosh! It worked!

    Thanks, Helen.

  21. The “syncretilicious” is my adjective. The rest comes from John Boehner, House minority leader in 2008, who called the bank-bailout bill “a crap sandwich” but then decided to eat it anyway.

    The whole phrase can be freely used as applicable, and, sadly, it frequently is.

  22. After the Toledo Blade made two seemingly unimportant editorial changes to a letter my District President wrote, explaining our position, I have to wonder what the Journal Gazette did to DP May’s interview. In just one sentence, the Blade omitted one word, then divided that sentence into two, giving the entire eloquent yet unequivocal letter a harsh and “in your face” tone. If anyone is interested in the details, I will respond personally.

  23. @Mary Moerbe #27
    March 31 really is almost, practically, April 1

    I usually get the LW a week or so into the month. So, on the 5th, 7th, or 9th of April I’m supposed to look forward to Easter? [I don’t suppose Lent is newsworthy either since LCMS congregations have given it up as “meaningless to seekers”.]

    Maybe I have lived too long. 🙁 [“Sad” is the left paren, Joe.] 🙂

  24. @Rev. David Mueller #36

    $60 [“for meals”, (maybe one meal, LCEF style)? ] plus airfare or gas, in our case, David. Unless they are going to hook in to Issues Etc. and do a 24 hour broadcast… 😉

    It’s always OK to pray in your own room or sanctuary.

  25. @Joe Strieter #34

    About the Toledo Blade:
    Send the column and your comments to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway (Norm can forward).
    “Get religion” (as in “The press doesn’t get religion”) would be interested.

    ‘Nuff from me here.

  26. helen :
    @Joe Strieter #34
    About the Toledo Blade:
    Send the column and your comments to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway (Norm can forward).
    “Get religion” (as in “The press doesn’t get religion”) would be interested.
    ‘Nuff from me here.

    I sent it to GetReligion, but haven’t heard anything yet. I looked for Mollie’s email address on GetRelgion, or at least a way to get it to her, but couldn’t find anything.

  27. @Carl Vehse #2
    Being an Indiana resident, I am sick of hearing politicians sniveling about the 1% property tax cap. When the bill was being proposed, I told my Indiana legislators that our properties would simply be assessed at higher values to get around the 1% cap. Apparently, I didn’t know what I was talking about; but it is amazing how my property has appreciated the last few years in this lousy economy. If they would buy it from me for what they say it’s worth, I’d be out tomorrow. Perhaps my local school could also come to the realization that they don’t really need two swimming pools and a fancy marquis that tells everyone the time and temp when driving by in cars that give them that information. If I say anything, though, I’m a heartless [insert expletive] who doesn’t care about the kids.

    Regarding DP May, I can truly say that Indiana is one of the better districts in the LCMS, although I’m no longer LCMS.

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