George Davis | Deliver me from evil
I have had a fundamental problem with an aspect of the Lord's Prayer since about 1996. The problem emerged based on a short story I read and a comment made by one of the two characters in the story.
I have raised the problem with Christians, secular and Christian academics, Rastafarians and free thinkers, without what I believe to be a satisfactory response or explanation uncoloured by dogma, training or indoctrination.
The answers I have been given, especially by the Christians, always go back to there being nothing wrong with the prayer, only something wrong with me. In some ways I believe arrogance is a word that was created to describe some Christians or religious zealots. And I say so because they give no thought to the idea that anything associated with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost can be wrong. Nothing!
Despite the obvious and inherent contradictions, they will tell you that nothing in the Bible is wrong, even after you remind them that God didn't write the Good Book; man did. Given their attitude, it's really no surprise that the Christians I have spoken to about the problem have been unable to make sense with their response.
So what, then, is this problem?
It's simply this. Part of the Lord's Prayer, taken from the traditional form published in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in 1662, says, "and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil".
MAKES NO SENSE
I've thought about that excerpt long and hard. I've examined it in isolation and in the context of the times it was given to Moses to pass on to the people. I've considered it alongside the rest of what is undoubtedly the most famous prayer in the Christian world and I have concluded that it makes no sense.
First of all, as I understand it, faith is a journey. You embark on a journey with God to deepen your spirituality and build your faith. At a certain point in the journey, after you've built your faith, you move to fortify that faith, strong in the knowledge that you are at a point where you can withstand the allure and pull of the sins of the world.
You start from zero and build your faith to a point of strength as you get deeper into your relationship with the Lord. I believe that to ask God not to lead you into temptation is cowardly and foolish, precisely because of how much effort you would have invested in building that faith.
In other words, you are an athlete who's in training every day, lifting weights, running laps, doing endurance work, abiding by strict diet and taking supplements, but within that process tell your coach that you do now want to be placed in a contest.
What!? How then will you know how strong you are? How will you know what aspects of your training need to be tweaked to make you a better athlete? Why invest so much in faith building, walking hand in hand with God, and then turn around and pray to God, asking him not test that faith? Nonsense! I believe that it makes more sense to pray, asking God to fortify your faith during the various periods of temptations or tests, so you can emerge unscathed. Anything else is hard to stomach.
To compound my problem with the Lord's Prayer is the other part of the extract which says, "deliver us from evil". In effect, you are asking God not to allow you to be tempted or tested, and then wanting to be delivered from your non-test! It doesn't make sense. And evil can mean the harm that people want to visit upon you or the dangerous things you will engage in and end up hurting yourself.
I have been told by persons in the Church that I am attempting to make a mockery of God through the use of sophistry. It has been said that because I have read 'two books', I believe I can intellectualise about what God has given to man. No such thing.
I'm just a man seeking answers to a perplexing issue. If I am misguided in my thoughts, I welcome those who wish to school me.