Discussing
Is that Lord’s Prayer graduation speech a form of faithbombing?

Josh Larsen

Melanie2
June 6, 2013

Yes, it *is* faithbombing. The Word of God is not meant to be used as a social weapon.

JKana
June 6, 2013

I'm inclined toward your intuitions on this one, Josh. I, too, have a gut-level aversion to the way some have positioned the "righteous cause" of Christianity in such an adversarial way.

Now, I understand that there are numerous ways in which Christians today suffer persecution in a religiously pluralist state. I understand that the gospel doesn't require us to lay down and take all the garbage the world throws at us--let alone the abuses we're so privileged NOT to have to endure in the U.S. just for confessing Christ. I get that there's a time and a place to assert our beliefs over against what the world has to say about it. (I'm not untouched nor unmoved, after all, by the gross INTOLERANCE of the idol we Americans call "tolerance.")

But whenever I hear Christians doing as you say--making it all into an "us-them" battle--my heart breaks a little. I worry that even when our intents are good, we risk distorting our gospel message, making it sound like a call to arms rather than "counting it all joy" (James 1:2).

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
June 7, 2013

Your reference to "time and place" is helpful here. There may be a moment in which incorporating the Lord's Prayer into a graduation speech would be an effective form of witness, but right here and right now - in the long days of the American culture wars and in the context of this school district's debate in particular - I feel it does more harm than good.

Marta L.
June 8, 2013

I don't think this was ever intended as evangelicalism, by either the valedictorian or people who have been applauding him. Roy Costner seems motivated by rebellion against authority. It reminds me of the kid at my cousin's graduation, who was told he had to wear dress shoes or he couldn't speak (said valedictorian was notoriously casual, according to my cousin). So he wore a dress shirt, tie, dress shoes and absolutely nothing else under his robes, boxers included - and then let the wind blow his robe open a bit afterward. It was his way of refusing to be told what to do. Of course the thing Roy rebelled over is infinitely times more important than a dress code, but I think it's the rebellion rather than the thing being rebelled over that both kids are focused on.

The adults worry me more here. They seem more moved by the fact that someone forced their religion into the public square again. That's important, I <i>do</i> think we need to find a way to respectfully express and share our faith in the public square. The thing is, they end up celebrating the <i>power</i> this gives them, and in the process they end up twisting the thing they try to celebrate. Prayer used to show other people that God's still in this house isn't the humble, quiet, communion with God Jesus calls us to in Matthew 6. The fact that he quoted the Lord's Prayer, the very words Jesus taught the disciples to pray after telling them to "go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen", just adds to the irony, I think.

Wmrharris
June 8, 2013

I would agree on the role of youth here. This is such a quintessentially youthful act, and like all such acts more a claim of personal autonomy against some adult or imposing world. The applause and all seems more in line with the audience affirming its own inner rebellion or sense of independence -- we're free, etc. It probably also confirmed a certain tribal identity, as Lyle Lovett sang, "That's right, you're not from Texas."

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
June 8, 2013

You might be right about that Marta - that evangelism wasn't the first intent here. Then the question becomes: What does such rebellion against authority communicate about the Christian faith? And also to your point: what does the championing of the rebellion by adults communicate? To me, it communicates unnecessary defiance and provocation rather than love.

Coryzipperle
June 8, 2013

Acts is full of rebellion in the name of Christ. How many times did the apostles get in trouble for sharing the Gospel after being told not to?

This incident may not have won any souls, but it's good to see Christians being bold. One thing is for certain, this incident provoked thought, and may have triggered somebody to consider Christ who had before denied.

Philippians 1:18: "The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached."

No matter what, his actions here are Biblically sound.

Coryzipperle
June 8, 2013

I do love the face of the blonde. She's totally dry and then cracks a smile. The applause from the audience...

It's tough to find anything wrong here.

James Gilmore
June 10, 2013

--"One thing is for certain, this incident provoked thought, and may have triggered somebody to consider Christ who had before denied."--

Have you considered that the opposite could also have happened: that someone who might have considered the way of Christ was so turned off by the "faithbombing" that he or she is now much less likely to consider it, believing that in following Christ, he or she would have to become rude and impose his or her faith on others like this valedictorian did?

If the number of souls that were lost was greater than the number gained, wouldn't that make this action a net negative?

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi

TimF
June 10, 2013

I think no one got saved or lost because of that speech/prayer. The Bible says people are saved because the Spirit gives them life. One person's (or a whole church's) efforts - good or bad - will not affect the Spirit's effective work in building God's kingdom.

Cheers,
Tim

John Van Sloten
June 11, 2013

It's about as appropriate as giving a valedictorian speech at a prayer meeting

James Gilmore
June 12, 2013

That's certainly one perspective... but it doesn't seem to be the perspective of the above commenter, who does seem to think that human efforts can affect whether souls are "won" or that people's words can "trigger" people to consider Christ.

Coming from the above commenter's perspective, I'm forced to wonder if souls "lost" by a given action are factoring into the equation at all.

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