To the National Day of Prayer Task Force,
My name is Nathanael Mayhew, and I am the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I was contacted by you in March asking if I would participate in the National Day of Prayer events here in Lawrenceville this coming May. I remembered receiving information regarding this in the past, and asked you for more information. You directed me to the NDP website, which I have now had the chance to look over. You also recently sent me some additional information concerning the local events surrounding the National Day of Prayer, and again, I appreciate all the information you have directed me to regarding this event.
After carefully looking over this information on the mission, vision and purpose of the National Day of Prayer, I wanted to send you a letter with a few comments. I hope that you will consider these comments with an open mind and a willing and understanding heart, and correct me of any misunderstandings that I may have. Please know that I am writing out of concern for the truth of the message of the Gospel which is “Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
There is no doubt that we should be praying for our country and people throughout the world. Paul told Timothy: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). As concerned Christians we need to pray that the Kingdom of God would continue to come according to His will. But the manner in which the National Day of Prayer is being organized with members of various churches, denominations etc. is not a God-pleasing way to do what needs to be done.
To begin with, I was concerned by the frequent use of the term Judeo-Christian on the NDP website. Judeo-Christian is a term used to describe the concepts and values which are common to both Judaism and Christianity. These concepts include things like the belief in one God (monotheism), the Old Testament, the 10 Commandments, and the concept of atonement, but that is not what Christianity is all about. Christianity further describes those Jewish concepts as being rooted in the person of Jesus Christ. Your web-site says that the purpose of the NDP Task force is that of “organizing and promoting prayer observances conforming to a Judeo-Christian system of values.” I did not see anything else on the website which further clarified that statement. Such a program (as the term Judeo-Christian is consistently defined) would in fact be contrary to God’s will.
Maybe I misunderstood your use of the term Judeo-Christian, but if you mean Judeo-Christian as I have defined it above, then that is not what God wants of us as Christians. He tells us “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). This is clear throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. Throughout His Word God calls His children to separate themselves from unbelievers. In the early New Testament, this included those Jews who refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament (modern day Judaism). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
We live in a society today which stresses “political-correctness” – the idea that we should not offend anyone by what we say or do. In many ways this is good Christian thinking. Paul said “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more” (1 Corinthians 9:19). But while we may - and at times should - give up our liberties in Christ, we should never sacrifice the truths of God’s Word for any reason! By its very nature Christianity is offensive to the world. The message Christ brought to the world was not politically correct as witnessed by the hatred people had for Him and for His followers even after His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. While it may not be politically correct to say that it is only through faith in Christ that eternal life is received, that is what Scripture clearly declares. Peter declared concerning Jesus: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
It may be that this is not what was intended by the term “Judeo-Christian” but if it is not, I hope that you can forward this to those who can make the necessary changes in wording so that the wrong idea is not portrayed.
I have one other concern related to the comments mentioned above. The Scriptural truth stated above applies to various Christian groups in the same way it applies to those religions that are anti-Christian. Let me explain. In our time, Christianity is also divided. It is divided into many denominations both for good and for bad. Many times Christian individuals separate themselves from other Christians because their personalities clash and they can’t seem to get along. Certainly God does not like many of the divisions that have taken place in His Church on earth because of our sinfulness. God wants His people to be united. Paul wrote to the Corinthians “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
But as we look at Christian denominations we clearly see that there is no unity. There is no unity within visible Christianity because it is divided by differences in doctrine and practice. Christ wants His Church to be united but it is not. Christ told His disciples that they were to proclaim not just some of the truths of His Word, but all of it: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Sadly, many Christian churches today are not proclaiming “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) but are watering the message of Christ crucified down to satisfy the itching ears of the majority of our society. Paul told Timothy that day would come: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Scripture describes such false teaching within the Christian church as “cancer” (2 Timothy 2:17-18) which spreads quickly and brings with it death. As a result of the false teaching that would sneak into the Christian church, Paul told those Christians who had been given the full truth: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
Many within Christianity today say that such a break in fellowship is only speaking of non-Christian religions, but Scripture tells us that our fellowship should be based on all the doctrines of Scripture. Every doctrine of Scripture has been given by God, and every passage has only one Spirit-intended meaning. We cannot “agree to disagree” on the doctrines of Scripture and continue in fellowship, ignoring these differences in doctrine. Scripture directs a break in fellowship, not only in connection with blatant unbelievers, but also with so-called Christians who:
• Deny the resurrection, saying it is already past (2 Timothy 2:18);
• Disregard God’s commandments (2 Peter 2:1-3, 13-20);
• Prohibit the eating of certain foods (1 Timothy 4:3);
• Quarrel about genealogies and the law (Titus 3:9).
In the sheet I received detailing the events surrounding the National Day of Prayer here in Lawrenceville, it says: “The program will be preceded by a time of praise and worship, so come early.” This is unionism, which is joining together in fellowship without unity in doctrine and practice, and is contrary to Scripture.
The NDP website says that your vision is to “foster unity within the Christian Church”. That is a great and noble goal. But we should not be joining together in fellowship with those who disagree with us on the teachings of Scripture. We can only foster the unity of the Church of Christ through faithful teaching and preaching of all the things Christ commanded, and not through unionistic worship which will never resolve the differences with the various denominations of Christianity. The final point in your vision reads: “Glorify the Lord in word and deed”. Those Christians who disregard the command of the Lord to “beware of false teachers” (Matthew 7:15) but instead join with them in worship and praise are not glorifying the Lord in any way.
Finally, your site says: “This diversity [I believe this refers to the Judeo-Christian system of values] is what Congress intended when it designated the Day of Prayer, not that every faith and creed would be homogenized, but that all who sought to pray for the nation would be encouraged to do so in any way deemed appropriate.” Based on the teachings of Scripture, such a unionistic gathering of divided Christians (and possibly non-Christians) is not appropriate, nor is it God pleasing.
I hope that you will re-consider the way in which your National Day of Prayer is being presented, and discontinue encouraging people to join together with those whom they are not agreed on the teachings of Scripture.
Let us pray for our country, for our society, for unity within the Church, for God to further our Constitutional freedoms to gather, worship, pray and speak freely – but let us do so with those whom we are joined by the common bond of unity on all the teachings of Scripture. While we will not be joining you on the square on May 3rd, we will continue to pray for all these things individually and corporately with those whom we do share the unity of faith.
In the service of Christ,
Pastor Nathanael Mayhew
If you would like more information about the subject matter of this letter,
please contact Pastor Mayhew