Prayers or Death Knell?
August 9, 2013
One of the criticisms of the PCUSA, by those of us departing for ECO, is the fairly pervasive religious pluralism or, at the least, sloppy inclusivism in the denomination. A fine illustration of this is in the Daily Prayer published by the PCUSA. On the title page, we are assured that it was “commended by the 205th General Assembly (1993) for use in worship.”
Even if you could argue for an orthodox spin to these prayers — quite a theological feat — the average person in the pew will come away with a straightforward message of religious pluralism:
For World Religions
We thank you, God of the universe,
that you call all people to worship you
and to serve your purpose in this world.
We praise you for the gift of faith
we have received in Jesus Christ.
We praise you also for diverse faith
among the people of the earth.
For you have bestowed your grace
that Christians, Jews, Muslims,
Buddhists, and others
may celebrate your goodness,
act upon your truth,
and demonstrate your righteousness.
In wonder and awe
we praise you great God. Amen.
(Book of Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Louisville: WJK Press, 1993, pp. 409-410)
Hmm, I get a different vibe from Romans 1-3. Anyway, we are then not surprised to find this prayer:
you are the one God to be worshiped by all,
the one called Allah by your Muslim children,
descendants of Abraham as we are.
Give us grace to hear your truth
in the teachings of Mohammed, the prophet,
and to show your love as disciples of Jesus Christ,
that Christians and Muslims together
may serve you in faith and friendship. Amen. (p. 430)
Among other problems with this prayer, Mohammed is a “prophet” now for Christians. Once upon a time, the mainline actually prayed for the repentance and conversion of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus…anywhere “diverse faith” was found.
However, I do not exclude the possibility of salvation outside the church. Suffice it to say, there are more responsible models of inclusivism — here and here for example, or Alister McGrath’s agnosticism here.