THE EDITOR, Sir:
WHILE READING Peter Espeut's Friday, February 19 column in which he teaches, taking to task a local Jamaican pastor and letter writer for misunderstanding the nature of the current, religious season (Lent), what he believes to be, as he writes, "the right track about general Christian practice", I was inspired to respond with a question.
Like at least a few other demonstrably well-educated men and women who have been considerably exposed, one could almost say "well indoctrinated" into one of the variants of the modern, Christian church, I find it hard to reconcile one undoubtedly significant teaching of Jesus with the present traditions of most contemporary churches.
Not to impugn Peter's confidence nor insult his credentials as an educated man and respected teacher of Christian principle, I would beg instead to offer him a challenge in regard to one small issue generally overlooked in the modern world of what he calls "Christian practice", and specifically ask him to explain the obvious contradiction between what Jesus is reported to have said to do and what so many Christians, in fact, routinely do.
Taken from Mathew's account of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Mr Espeut, does this simple statement about this particular public demonstration of faith, prayer, in its totality, entirely negate the modern Christian practice of church assembly that includes such a collective demonstration? And, as such, does it not also negate much of what is accepted as part of the practice of most Christian churches today? How do you explain this apparent, if not obvious, contradiction?
I am, etc.,