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Priest Gets Un-Invited to Give School Benediction

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Father John Parker of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church (OCA) was recently asked to give a benediction at the graduation of the Medical University of South Carolina. But when the school officials found out that Fr. Parker was planning to say a Christian prayer (gasp!), they un-invited him, ironically, in the name of tolerance. Read more here.

Imagine the arrogance it takes to ask a Christian cleric to pray while insisting that he make no mention of his God. There is no generic god. The only God that exists is the Holy Trinity, confessed by Father Parker. To ask him to pray without mentioning Jesus or the Trinity would be asking him to break the First Commandment.

Fr. Parker says it best, “Slowly, like the proverbial frog in the kettle, we are being taught that it is the pinnacle of erudition and public good to believe anything, but it is indeed the nadir, not to mention simply dangerous and offensive, to believe something.”

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About scottstieg

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    To ask him to pray without mentioning Jesus or the Trinity would be asking him to break the First Commandment.

    Since he cannot be all inclusive, then it’s for the best he was uninvited.

  • http://www.burrintheburgh.blogspot.com Scott Stiegemeyer

    Steve S,
    O come now, you don’t really mean “ALL” inclusive, do you? How can one be ALL inclusive and un-invite him? He and his views and his religious practices are being excluded. ALL inclusive somehow never includes people like Fr. Parker. You mean ALL inclusive of people who agree with you. It’s OK to exclude exclusivists isn’t it? And how dumb does someone have to be to be surprised that an Orthodox priest would want to say a Christian prayer? Maybe a Presbyterian, Methodist or a Lutheran would be willing to blaspheme, but an Orthodox priest would really be stretching it.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    ALL inclusive somehow never includes people like Fr. Parker.

    But it did include him until he let it be known that he was going to use a benediction to proselitize.

    It’s OK to exclude exclusivists isn’t it?

    well, it does pose a conundrum, but exclusivists do bring it on themselves.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    optional response equally valid:

    It’s OK to exclude exclusivists isn’t it?

    besides, if society is going to exclude, we should start by first excluding exclusivists. After all, it is their preferential response to take.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    third response equally valid (sorry, they just keep coming to me):

    It’s OK to exclude exclusivists isn’t it?

    Thank you for acknowledging here that the Priest and his faith is exclusionary.

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Imagine the arrogance it takes to ask a Christian cleric to pray while insisting that he make no mention of his God. There is no generic god. The only God that exists is the Holy Trinity, confessed by Father Parker. To ask him to pray without mentioning Jesus or the Trinity would be asking him to break the First Commandment.

    Scott, shocker of shocks, I agree with you to a point. I have no problem with inviting a Christian cleric to say a prayer at a function. That being said, I think that the cleric, being sensitive to the diversity of our culture, could have invoked Christ and continued to validate those who may not be Christian. I have heard many prayers recited by Muslim clerics and Rabbis who have been sensitive to the majority of Christians in attendance. Surely it would not be too much to ask for the same respect.

    I’m not sure if you are saying that the only God there is comes through the Holy Trinity is your opinion or that of Fr. Parker’s. If that is your belief, so be it. You have the right to express your professed belief in a way that makes you most comfortable. But in our expressing our beliefs, I think it’s important we not diminish what another individual may believe.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I agree with you Silas, my response was just as respectful as I saw the priest as being. It’s amazing how people don’t see anything the problems with evangelicizing or prosletizing and cannot comprehend why it is opposed.

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    So true, Steve. And all this time I thought Evangelical was one of the characters in Cats.

  • http://www.burrintheburgh.blogspot.com Scott Stiegemeyer

    Steve wrote:

    “Thank you for acknowledging here that the Priest and his faith is exclusionary.”

    You’re welcome. The thing that freaks me out is that some folks actually think this is a putdown. It’s really a no-brainer. Is Christianity exclusive? Of course it is. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Reading the Gospels, no one could reasonably conclude that Jesus was an inclusivist in the way that is often meant today.

    Actually, Christianity IS inclusive in the sense that salvation is available for all, but exclusive in the sense that not all will be saved.

    I don’t consider calling Father Parker an exclusivist a putdown, but on the contrary, he is being a faithful disciple of his Lord Jesus Christ.

  • http://www.burrintheburgh.blogspot.com Scott Stiegemeyer

    Silas wrote:

    “I’m not sure if you are saying that the only God there is comes through the Holy Trinity is your opinion or that of Fr. Parker’s. If that is your belief, so be it. You have the right to express your professed belief in a way that makes you most comfortable. But in our expressing our beliefs, I think it’s important we not diminish what another individual may believe.”

    Christianity teaches that God is the Holy Trinity. Father Parker is a Christian, as am I. We believe that the only God that exists is the one revealed in the Christian Scriptures.

    Other world religions deny that God is the Trinity and that Jesus is divine. We can’t all be correct. A statement and its opposite can’t both be right. As a Christian, obviously, I think Christianity is correct.

    That does not mean I don’t love my Jewish/Muslim/etc. neighbors. I believe in religious freedom.

    If I attended a public function and an Imam were asked to pray, I would NOT be offended if he addressed his prayer to Allah. That’s being truly open-minded: allowing people to practice their religion without getting bent out of shape about it.

    I have been in Father Parker’s shoes, as I am a Lutheran minister. I have told folks that I would be happy to pray, but since I am a Christian, my prayer will be a Christian prayer. Usually, no one objects.

    I would have no problem if they then chose not to ask me but to ask someone else. They are free to do that. But please don’t ask me to deny that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation by asking me to omit him from my prayers.

  • http://www.burrintheburgh.blogspot.com Scott Stiegemeyer

    “It’s amazing how people don’t see anything the problems with evangelicizing or prosletizing and cannot comprehend why it is opposed.”

    Proselytizing is the act of trying to gain converts. Jesus commanded His Church to do that. But I don’t agree that saying a prayer is doing that.

    Don’t you see, by telling this priest who he may or may not address in his prayers is a form of forcing alien beliefs upon him.

    Allow the man to practice his religion and he will allow you to practice (or not) yours, I’m sure.

    I have been in many similar settings and I would NEVER be so closed-minded as to tell a Rabbi or Imam how he is supposed to pray. I believe a person should be permitted to be what they are and truly liberal minded people do not feel threatened or so easily offended.

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I would have no problem if they then chose not to ask me but to ask someone else. They are free to do that. But please don’t ask me to deny that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation by asking me to omit him from my prayers.

    I respect that, Scott. Martin Luther is a hero of mine for his stance against the Roman Church. It has been my experience that Lutherans have been a more tolerant Christian sect than say the Mormons or Baptists. Like political parties, religious denominations should be large all-inclusive big tents. There can be differences within the tent but ultimately all inside try to emulate what is good about their respective beliefs.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Proselytizing is the act of trying to gain converts.

    I agree.

    The only God that exists is the Holy Trinity, confessed by Father Parker.

    Proselytizing. Saying my way or damnation is trying to gain converts.

  • http://www.burrintheburgh.blogspot.com Scott Stiegemeyer

    Steve,

    On Proselytizing, no respectable Christian would ever say, “my way or damnation.” But Jesus did say that. So we say, “His way or damnation.”

    Look at it this way. If you were in a burning building and I told you that there is only one way of escape and pointed it out to you, would you be mad at me?

  • http://www.burrintheburgh.blogspot.com Scott Stiegemeyer

    Silas,

    On the big tent: I hear you. And to an extent, I agree with you. But St. Paul wrote: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” I agree St. Paul.

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Proselytizing. Saying my way or damnation is trying to gain converts.

    You’re absolutely right, Steve. And I honestly don’t think that this was Christ’s intent. I believe that He did advocate preaching the Word but somehow I believe that this Man was above everything else, a Jew. In reading many of the Gnostic texts, we come to learn that Christ placed a heavy deal of importance on the ministry of John the Baptist which has somehow been diminished by Christian scholars.

    I’ve no problem with people trying to gain converts as long as it is done with an innate respect for human dignity and individual rights. The Christian Church has been built by fraud, manipulation, genocide and politics. That doesn’t take away from Christ’s core message but it does tarnish those who are proclaiming the Word. I’ve said before that John Paul II had begun to acknowledge many of the mistakes the Roman Church has made in days past. I’ve debated with many sects of the Christian Church in my personal journey to find God. No one, from any sect with the exception of the Lutherans, has wanted to admit that much of Christianity’s rise to dominance was by coercion and outright murder.

    When looking at Islam, I am struck by the amount of reverence paid to Christ and Mary, the Blessed Mother. Much of Christianity has never taken the time to really read and understand what Mohammad said about them in the Qur’an. To me that is Christianity’s loss because Muslims and Christians have a common bond with each other and with Judaism through Abraham. Allah, Yahweh, God. Three names, the same deity. Perhaps if there was less fire and brimstone and real repentance for the sins of the Christian fathers we could come to some sort of rational dialog among the great religions. Perhaps Christians are correct that the only path to God is through Christ. In my heart I do not believe this to be the case but I will fight to the death to have anyone maintain the right to hold onto their personal beliefs.

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Scott, I would love to get into a rational debate about Paul and his effect on the early Church. I know that most of Christianity relies heavily on his writings. Perhaps they are valid and he was inspired by the Holy Ghost, this is something that I have difficulty accepting.

    Being raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic family and educated in parochial schools I heard so much about St. Paul this, and St. Paul that. From as far back as I can remember I have consistently asked the same question, “What about Jesus?” If Scripture is correct in that Christ built his Church with Peter as its head, how can Christian theologians reconcile St. Paul to Christ?

    That leads me to yet another question and that is with regard to Judaism. The Church teaches that Christ came in fulfillment of the Scriptures and that in doing so, the covenant with the Jews was fulfilled and no longer in force. Is this what Christ said? Did He not want his followers to keep holy the Sabbath? The OT says that God rested on the seventh day yet Christians rest on the first. There are many inconsistencies, Scott, that have been borne out of customizing Christianity to local legend and lore in an effort to gain converts. Isn’t that, in itself, heresy?

  • http://gonzo-marx.blogspot.com gonzo marx

    greetings again Scott,

    Question…Scott sez..
    *Proselytizing is the act of trying to gain converts. Jesus commanded His Church to do that.*

    where in the 4 Gospels is that please?..i don’t recall..and will look when i can, but i thought you might know..

    as for Saul of Tarsus, let us just say i have many difficulties with his writings

    different Eyes see differnt Things at times, even when they rest on the same place..

    cases in point..
    1)the Gospels do not agree on the last Words spoken from the cross
    2)they also don’t agree on the sign placed above his head by the Romans

    those are enough to make my point

    but i digress…

    i do think the school was a bit naive in dealing with their invited Guest…i can fully understand their desire for a general Benediction…i doubt anyone would have had any problem with invoking the name of “God”…even Jesus(tho i know the Jewish folks might have been a bit off, but they are good like that)

    when it was discovered that the sides differed in their view of what was appropriate..they withdrew their Request and found smoething more suitable for their Ceremony

    do i understand the Facts here correctly?

    so..ummm…where is the problem and why the Outrage?

    i mean, it is the school’s function, and their own Ceremony, i agree it was silly of them not to have thought of the possibly problem beforehand…but i fail to see how any kind of “damage” is done here…

    my two guilders worth…

    Excelsior!

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Look at it this way. If you were in a burning building and I told you that there is only one way of escape and pointed it out to you, would you be mad at me?

    No, and when I am in a burning building, I will give you a call. Meanwhile, quit trying to proslytize your faith on me.

  • noname

    They probably invited him just because they saw him as a good person who’s done good for the community. I have no problem with that.

    Nonetheless, they should have seen that coming and perhaps asked him BEFOREHAND not to make mention of God.

    It would be interesting though to see someone of a different religion to conduct a different sort of prayer, chant, hyme, etc. I’m sure more people would be upset with that than if a priest said a prayer.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    No one’s asking the first question that came into my mind:
    Why do we need a benediction prayer at a public ceremony to honor graduates of medical school?

    I just read that prayer: If my doctor admitted to believing that Jesus was the one who healed people, as this prayer says, I’d run screaming from his office.

    Honestly, the idea of telling smart, dedicated people who have studied really difficult science for a decade, and who are ready to go out and actually help people with that science that Jesus is “the Physician” or can bring dead people back to life is just plain stupid and insulting.

    Plus, between the non-believers, the Jews, the Muslims and the Hindus, I’ll bet a third of the grads didn’t believe in Jesus anyway.

    I’d say the whole idea is inappropriate. I’m sorry he was ever invited in the first place, but I’m glad he was disinvited, and I hope he wasn’t replaced.