December 2003

Praying in Jesus’ name

Regarding my decision to pray in Jesus’ name at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting (“Letters,” Oct. ’03):

I am concerned that some Christian leaders believe that keeping the right and left kingdoms separate means we should submit and comply with a governmental authority and its laws even when such laws are contradictory to God’s will.  I am glad Martin Luther didn’t understand the relationship between the two kingdoms in like manner.

Neither did the disciples of Jesus.  Even with the threat of repeated imprisonment and floggings (and, ultimately, death), the disciples responded to Israel’s “Supreme Court,” which was attempting to quash the name of Jesus (much like many leaders in our government today), yet they boldly and defiantly continued to stand up and pray — in Jesus’ name (see Acts 4 and 5).  In fact, it was from this event and their example that I took my lead to pray in Jesus’ name.

What we have in the state asking for religious prayers, then dictating the religiosity of such prayers, is discrimination — against all religions.  Does this then not become an issue of freedom of speech and religion? 

Midst all the questions regarding the appropriateness of the prayer — i.e., whether or not anyone actually came to know Jesus Christ as Savior through that proclamation; whether or not it was an appropriate context in which to proclaim the Good News; and whether or not there are kinder and gentler ways to do that — the reported results are rather extraordinary.  There arose from my congregation and from a multitude of other LCMS congregations (per e-mails from their pastors) thousands upon thousands of people who recommitted themselves to standing up for Jesus Christ at work, in their homes, to their friends, etc., and to proclaiming His name and work on the cross and from the grave for the salvation of the world.  How can this be a bad thing?

Yes, it was in defiance to a law.  Yes, it might very well have crossed the line into that left-hand kingdom.  And yes, there might very well be a number of other venues from which a Gospel proclamation would be more effective.  However, I just don’t believe there is ever a time when it is wrong to lift up the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Dr. David Benke gets criticized for not saying enough about Jesus.  Now there’s criticism for saying too much?  Who do you think is really behind all this?  Let me guess ….
Rev. Martin J. Brauer
Santa Clarita, Calif.

December 2003

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