Sunday, November 17, 2013

That Name

Speaking just hours before He would depart from this world, He gave His final words of advice to his followers, saying,

“Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.  I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

In the past two thousand years that Name, Jesus Christ, has caused denouncements, derision, division, and death. Even in America that Name has prompted fulfillment of its author’s prediction.

This past November 6th, the division caused by that Name managed to find its way into the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. In the case Town of Greece v Galloway, two citizens filed suit demanding to end the regular prayer that this local municipality made prior to its proceedings.

Well, not exactly.

They recognized that the tradition of legislative prayer, from the inception of the Republic to the present, was unbroken. The clear precedent having been set from a prior case (Marsh v Chambers 1983), the lawyers knew that to claim that this act of prayer was a violation of the establishment of religion clause in the First Amendment would not work. So, if the act of praying could not be made an issue, then what?

Well, if you cannot stop the prayer the next best thing would be to make the prayer so innocuous and unoffensive that it would effectively cease to be a prayer. The Justices however would have none of this. When the attorney for Galloway asserted this necessity, they responded this way:

JUSTICE ALITO: Alright. Give me an example. Give me an example of a prayer that would be acceptable to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus. Give me an example of a prayer, Wiccans, Baha'i...


JUSTICE SCALIA: And atheists. Throw in atheists, too.

Not surprisingly the attorney never gave an example.

What was really the issue here? Let’s go back to the outset of the arguments.

At the very beginning of the proceedings Justice Elena Kagan suggested a hypothetical prayer that invoked the name of Jesus Christ and asked if it would be permissible. The court debated for an hour. Near its close she asked the attorney for Galloway:

“Isn't the question mostly here in most communities whether the kind of language that I began with, which refers repeatedly to Jesus Christ…
will be allowed in a public town session like this one. That's really the question, isn't it?”

The attorney for Galloway responded, 

“That's the issue that actually arises in the case.”

Ahh—there we have it. THAT NAME.

What is it about that name that causes such consternation? Remember the words of Jesus long ago, 

“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” 

Those who know the truth about Jesus know that sin, their sin, is made front and center with that man. And that is unacceptable. 

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” 

They know His claim to truth was exclusive. And that is intolerable. So they try and have that Name banished from government proceedings.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision next spring. What will they decide? I, for one, will be praying they retain this freedom to pray as we see fit and I will be doing so praying the only way I know how:

In the Name of Jesus Christ.

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