Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Lords Prayer and Wading Pool Theology

Royalty Free Stock Photo: 3d man sitting with red question mark over white ID 35343815 © Dreammasterphotographer | Dreamstime.comDear Thoughtful Pastor: Why is the Catholic Lord’s Prayer different from the Protestant Lord’s Prayer? 

What Protestants call the Lord’s Prayer and Catholics call the Our Father is found in both Matthew 6 and Luke 11.

The way most Protestants say the prayer goes like this:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses (debts/sins), as we forgive those who trespass against us (our debtors/those who sin against us) and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Catholic Our Father does not include, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever.” This phrase, a doxology or words of praise about God, appeared early in Christian writings and was probably often added to the end of prayers recited in various communities.

The original King James Version, completed in 1611, does include that doxology in Matthew, but not in Luke. It is indeed found in some Greek manuscripts. However, modern scholarly translations of Matthew, using the most ancient manuscripts possible and many of which were not available at the time of the original KJV, leave off the doxology.

So, the Catholic Our Father is more faithful to the text. The Protestant Lords Prayeris more faithful to the tradition.

By the way, the prayer itself would have not been anything new to the world of Jesus. It is my understanding that is comes from the Kadish, with a version found in the Talmud, the many volumed compendium of Jewish learning. Jesus would certainly have been familiar at the very least with much of the oral tradition that eventually made up the written work.

 

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Wading Pool Theology
Wading Pool Theology @Copyright Dreamstime

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: My husband and I grew up in as church-going people. We moved to Texas three years ago with our four teen-aged children.  Every single attempt at becoming a part of a youth group has failed. Our kids get glanced at, completely ignored by the room full of cliques, and when they ask the hard questions that show they actually use their brains and want to figure out their faith and this world, the teachers are dumbfounded and don’t know what to say to them. What is going on here?

Impenetrable cliques are as much a part of teen-aged life as pimples and social anxiety. Where youth groups are concerned, this is the problem of poor leadership.

But the real issue, in my opinion, is the general shallowness of teaching given to our youth in church. It is as though we are determined to keep our kids in the wading pool of theology rather than giving them the tools to dive into the deep end.

Young adults leave the church in droves. Could it be because we have not taught the “deep-end” skills necessary to integrate faith, life, love and work?

By keeping our children and youth in the shallow end of theological debates, where all is black and white and easily answered, we leave them unequipped to deal with a world saturated with multiple shades of gray, uncertainties, a multiplicity of morally ambiguous choices, and seemingly unsolvable problems.

They have no preparation for complex decision-making. They fear the deep end and often miss God’s call for full Christian living that integrates all of life.

Try asking children to differentiate between Santa Claus and Jesus. I believe that we feed our children a Santa Claus god and then are shocked when, at some point after learning that the Santa Claus story taught as truth is really just a big charade put on by parents, they also turn away from Jesus.

Those whose faith teaching has kept them in the wading pool often learn to proof-text themselves through life. Proof-texting means taking some small portion of the Bible (or political stance or statement) completely out of context, linking it with other small portions, and then creating a chain of statements that, taken only at face-value, appear to support really awful things. Arguments for slavery, racism, genocide and seeing women as slightly sub-human and without basic rights have all sprung from the proof-texting mindset.

Proof-texting pastors helped create the environment that ultimately led to the Civil War and the splitting of many church bodies. The Southern Baptist Church, the Southern Methodist Church which commissioned Southern Methodist University, and other “southern” bodies were formed by those groups which proclaimed that the Holy Scriptures supported and even mandated the enslavement of certain people groups.

We’ve got to learn to swim in the deep end of theology, and teach the next generation to do the same. If we do not…I shudder at the consequences.

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All questions are welcome. You can email your questions to thoughtfulpastor@gmail.com, “like” her Facebook Page, use this form to send them or message her on Twitter. You can also send a question through conventional mail to the following address: Thoughtful Pastor, 314 E. Hickory St., Denton, TX, 76202.

[Note: a version of this column will appear in the Friday, March 4, 2016  print and online editions of The Denton Record Chronicle.]

8 thoughts on “Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Lords Prayer and Wading Pool Theology

  1. I found the wording in why the question about why the Lord’s prayer is different between denominations interesting. Protestant movement was a splinter from the universal church, and early Christians were somewhat under Judiasm in the nearly days of Christianity, correct? So the prayers are all of same origin, so why refer to it as Protestants Lord prayer Or the Catholics Lord’s prayer. Its the Lord’s prayer. Period.

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  2. I was fortunate enough to have youth leaders in high school who seemed only to know the deep end. They would prompt discussions of everything from cliques both in high school and in our youth group to death and dying. They challenged us to live our faith. They never let us be Sunday Christians. To this day, I honor them as the two people who gave me tools to continue to ask questions, from the faith, about everything in this world.

    When I was in Seminary, I was appalled at the “courses” in “Youth Ministry”, at how facile they were, at their attempts to be a “cool” alternative to secular “cool” life, and their general paucity of any real attempt to challenge either leaders or youth. Seeing as most of the “texts” used in Youth Ministry came from “Youth Pastors” in mega-churches, I suppose I shouldn’t have been all that surprised; the lack of theological exploration at such churches tends toward the appalling. To this day, I feel that so much of youth ministry is handed off to people ill-equipped to deal either with youth or ministry, which leads to the situations about which you write. Our young people deserve better; the church deserves better.

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  3. At one of my churches, I was asked to assist in teaching the high school youth group. I took one of the Bible Studies home and read through it. It called upon only six Bible verses (one each week) and asked students to read the author’s autobiography more frequently than Scripture. It also instructed us to give the participants specific objects sometimes more than once which might be perceived as ‘buying’ their participation just to get whatever else we’re supposed to give them. I voiced my concerns to the the teacher and asked for the other book to see if it was a better read. It turns out that she didn’t bring it. “It was too deep! I know that these kids aren’t ready for it.” She told me. I answered her: “When I was half their age I knew twice as much! Something deep is precisely what they need to challenge them to ask the hard questions about what they believe and to begin to own their own faith apart from what they’ve been told to believe.” Since the teacher was an elderly woman easily twice my age, she dismissed my counsel and proceeded to do as she pleased. As soon as the high school students had a choice, they stopped coming to church. I felt like I didn’t belong there either so I switched to another one.

    For those of us who prefer the murky depths of theology, it can be a challenge to find a church that’s on board with letting us step outside of the wading pool. Fewer still are the sorts that can provide us with diving gear and a diving buddy, leaving us to do the best we can on our own. If we remain in the wading pool, boredom is surely the result of a lack of a challenge which might make rebellion somewhat exciting (and fun, to be honest but that’s only because they’re wasting my skill and time with the ABCs of F.A.I.T.H. for the ten thousandth time.) Then again, trying to do deep dives unassisted is unwise (as is turning to the wrong source for further learning; such as Systematic Theology – there is such a thing as too deep). I’d consider giving the children permission to move up to the more advanced groups for the challenge that they need to pursue spiritual truths that youth groups are clearly unequipped to do. Let them branch out from there, journal or blog about what they learn on their own as they read from different teachers and develop their own spiritual routine and tastes that is less dependent on the youth group and more about what works for them and not against them.

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    1. Jaime,

      Yes, many denominational youth programs are deficient on many counts. They do major on the minors if you will, and youth leaders often have very little theological training or tenure. The programming of many churches is rife with problems. However, volunteering or supporting programs is even more difficult. Many of the volunteers inadvertently undercut the leader’s authority or credibility by questioning their methods before they have enough context to understand how and why the program is done the way it is done–thus driving off qualified or capable people. Frankly speaking, it is likely that anyone who has managed to survive in youth ministry more than 4 month has staved off adult challenges or complaints. I personally faced these more than I could count both as a youth leader and as a pastor.

      I would love to have a person who would take the wading pools and give them a deep end. But, before I can give them that kind of responsibility I need to know 1) how much they care for those in the ministry (leading and listening); 2) that they won’t set up their own little kingdoms (that they will soon seek to expand); 3) that they will love and care for others in ministries that are nearby; and 4) that the presence of the deep end will not remove the safety and the welcome for the waders.

      The famous saying about witnessing, “That people don’t care what you know, until they know you care.” Is also true in the ministries of a church and so I provide you with alternate understandings of why “she dismissed your counsel.” 1) She might have set up her own little kingdom and wasn’t interested in another opinion; You might have been the 17th direct challenge to her credibility and she was tired. She asked for help and got judged; or 3) she might just have been the person doing the pastor a favor until somebody else came along that was called to the task. (our churches are full of those.)

      Rebellion might be fun, but it rarely inspires current leadership to trust. I suggest that you wade around serving beside someone in a ministry for a while. Let them ask you into deeper responsibility and input. Support, love and pray for your leaders. It’s what they need most and have the least of. And when your a leader it’s what you’ll want in a helper, too.

      As to cliques…there is nothing more insidious and vile in the body of Christ.

      Pastor Dave

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      1. She was the sort of woman who crafted her own vision and knew exactly how she wanted me to fulfill it. When she asked for my opinion, she wanted me to agree with her and didn’t expect me to do otherwise. So she was totally #1 – in her own kingdom.

        When kids are gifted or more advanced, being bored and unchallenged can result in rebellion. It’s why smart people often turn to crime, and why smart believers often struggle with science and faith. For me, it took the form of a blog to ask the questions my church couldn’t answer and learn the answers myself. In church, I often rebel by not participating. I’m not going pretend I’m happy with being in the wading pool or continue to “feed” the system. I only go where invited, most of the time people just don’t ask. I have the feeling that from what points and questions I have made they’re not sure what I’ll say or do and since I’m unpredictable they don’t know how to work with that so they don’t ask.

        Technically, I’m new at this church. Breaking into the cliques is tough for kids, but even more difficult as we get older. That was part of the reason why I left the aforementioned church. For the year we spent there, we were just as much outsiders the day we left as we were when we arrived. Even in this new church people just don’t talk to me – even after a year. I can’t help a church that doesn’t seem to want me to be an insider and a part of what’s going on.

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