Below is an e-mail exchange that was prompted by Ingrid Schlueter’s coverage of the upcoming “National Day of Prayer”, and specifically upon the “National Day of Prayer Committee” which is headed by Shirley Dobson, wife of James Dobson. This group is supposedly “Christian”, and supposedly “evangelical”, but in practice it is evidently neither.
From Slice of Laodicea:
Dr. Zacharias’ official prayer on the organization’s website, both in print and in audio form, carefully does not mention the name of Jesus Christ. Instead, the phrase, “In God’s Holy Name, Amen” is substituted. I learned that this was not an accidental slip, an oversight or a mistake. I called the organization in Colorado Springs yesterday and was told that the omission was deliberate so as not to offend Jewish participants at some of the events around the country.
Here is the e-mail exchange between myself and John Bornschein:
From: Coram Deo (email@example.com)
Sent: Thu 4/24/08 12:37 PM
I would just like to state that I am shocked and appalled that the name of the Risen Savior Jesus Christ does not appear in the prayer by Dr. Ravi Zacharias that’s posted on the official NDP website. This is ecumenical madness and in my mind represents at best an ill advised capitulation to the Christ rejecting spirit of this fallen world and at worst an all out attack on the eternal Gospel.
I’m sickened by this shameless, gutless display and believe an apology and an explanation are due for this grossest of omissions. How does the Bible say we are to pray? We are to pray to the Father in the name of His only begotten and eternal Son. What is the only begotten and eternal Son’s name? Evidently we ought not seek the answer to this question from Ravi Zacharias or the NDP team.
I’m praying for your organization to find its way in the Name of Jesus Christ.
Subject: Prayer for our Nation by Ravi Zacharias
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2008 16:33:00 -0600
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.
From: Coram Deo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Thu 4/24/08 8:57 PM
To: Bornschein, John (email@example.com)
I almost wish you hadn’t responded to my e-mail since in that case there would have remained some lingering doubt in my mind about the scurrilous and scandalous absence of the name of Jesus Christ from this supposedly “evangelical” event. Your reply has removed all doubt about the NDP’s position on naming names when it comes to Jesus Christ – it’s out of bounds. It’s unwelcome. It’s shameful. It’s “divisive”.
Yet as I recall Peter and the other believing ethnically Jewish, born again Christian apostles who comprised the early church were beaten, threatened, harassed, and martyred with the lone exception of the beloved apostle John. Their blood was shed for preaching the name of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Your canned response is excruciatingly unbiblical and the NDP’s ecumenical madness remains without excuse. I personally believe the NDP organization is in desperate need of prayer and careful introspection in the light of inspired scripture as it drifts aimlessly toward rank apostasy and spiritual irrelevance.