Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Christians should pray to Jesus directly (not to God the Father with Christ as a mediator) - according to the Fourth Gospel

This conviction has been building on me since I began to immerse myself in the Fourth Gospel ('John's' Gospel) - which I take to be the most authoritative book of the Bible.

Again and again we are told that the essence of the Christian life is belief (i.e. faith, trust) in Jesus, in (or on) the name of Jesus; and that Jesus was the creator (co-creator) of this world - and that we know the Father by knowing Jesus, and that (in effect) this knowledge supersedes, makes unnecessary, the old religion of the Jews focused on the Father.

It sees like a plain, one-step, inference (if we are using the Fourth Gospel as our source) that we should pray directly to Jesus. (And not therefore, as is usual, to The Father, 'in the name of'/ mediated by Jesus).

The Eastern Orthodox do this already, in The Jesus Prayer (one version of which would be: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy upon me.') - so this is not a new-fangled innovation. Plus of course many/ most 'simple' Christians have always prayed to Jesus - whatever their priests or pastors might say.

It is, indeed, common sense and obvious - so much so that I wonder at the motivation behind the prohibition among most Christians against praying direct to Jesus. To me, this looks like an attempt to prevent the fullness of the new dispensation from taking effect - a pushing of Jesus away from us, to one remove; and an implicit denial of his sufficiency.

Anyway, it is worth the experiment - pray to Jesus; our eldest brother - the very act of doing which is salvation because it is an act of belief.



14 comments:

  1. I have pondered this many times, Bruce, but whenever I've speculated aloud about it, I've gotten batted down with "Jesus taught us how to pray, and His example is to pray to OUR FATHER, etc."

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  2. Well, since they are the three members of the Trinity, you can pray to anyone of the three because it's the same God (at least in Nicene Christianity, Mormon theology may be different)

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  3. On the other hand, praying to Jesus is not uncommon in Nicene Christianity. See, for example, this Catholic prayer of abandonment.

    http://www.dolindo.org/english/JESUS%20YOU%20TAKE%20OVER%20.pdf

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  4. @Kirk - I am describing what I find in the fourth gospel; but anyway the passages relating to the Our Father prayer in Matthew and Luke seem to be in the present tense, and therfore concerned with prayer at the time of Jesus's mortal ministry - before he had ascended to Heaven.

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  5. @Chent - Mormon theology is different wrt the Trinity; but they still pray to the father in the name of the Son.

    My point is not really that it is forbidden, or 'wrong' to pray to the Father; but that praying to Jesus is clear, simple and coherent with the essence of Christianity and its message and nature. Many Christians have a vague, abstract, incorehensible understanding of the Father; whereas the understanding of Jesus is clear, direct, concrete, personal. It is much easier to love a person, our Brother, than a spirit-defined-by-abstractions.

    (In a sense, we may pray to Jesus as first Father - when we are young; then as Brother - as we grow-up; just as any beloved older brother begins as a father-figure, and (if things go well) ends as a best friend.)

    Praying to the father and Not directly to Jesus Christ is just one of those things which reduces the impact and clarity of Christianity, puts it at a (safe but less real 'distance') and confuses some people - makes them feel insecure and uncertain...

    Whereas the impression from the fourth gospel is straightforward, exciting, positive, encouraging, energising, hopeful... because it is *personal*. Even a child can understand the person of Jesus, and his gift.

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  6. "The old religion of the Jews" wasn't focused on the Father, it was focused on Jesus. Jesus is Jehovah, the God of the Tanakh, the Gospel of John itself says this.

    If anything the focus on the Heavenly Father was an innovation of Christ's dispensation, alluded to only very rarely in the Old Testament itself, where all action and all teachings revolved on the person of the pre-incarnate Christ.

    - Carter Craft

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  7. @Carter - I am familiar with this line of reasoning, https://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/jesus-is-jehovah-yhwh-god-of-old.html , but my understanding is that in the OT the references to God sometimes mean the Father, and sometimes the pre-incarnate Jesus - albeit with the latter probably predominant.

    However, until Jesus took up his ministry, presumably they didn't really know 'who' they were referencing, nor could they make the Father/ Son distinction.

    "the focus on the Heavenly Father was an innovation of Christ's dispensation" - Well, I suppose that is what I am challenging - nor does that distinction seem to appear explicitly in the Gospels. I don't any sign of it in the Fourth Gospel - perhaps the contrary; in the sense that the recurrent theme is that 'from now' belief in Jesus is to be the focus.

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  8. This may sound overly "Triune", but both Jews and Christians already pray to Jesus, since He is the same person as the Lord Jehovah of the Old Testament.

    It's not about praying to someone other than Jesus, but about praying to the Almighty God of Creation in the name of Christ. That is, it is about recognizing the reason that the Almighty has any interest in our prayers.

    Not to remind God that He suffered and died for our sake, but to remember this ourselves.

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  9. @CCL - That's an abstract argument about ultimate identity. Even if it were true, the point remains that there is a prohibition for many Christians; and the prohibition is against prayer to the person and an insistence on prayer to the abstraction. This is another example of the centrifugal pull that many Christians have always experienced back towards pure-monotheism - and which is due to metaphysical errors; from trying to force Christianity into a pre-existant philosophical mould.

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  10. Well, I must grant that most Christians probably do end up misinterpreting the point of praying to God in the name of Christ.

    But I feel that the greater danger for any given individual is to forget that Christ is more than some ancient hippie who was executed for offending the system.

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  11. I have trouble seeing your point fully. If Christ is to be an example for us, He always defers to and prays to the Father. However it seems the everyday examples in the Bible are of those who show faith in Our Lord, beseech His help, and are rewarded for their faith.

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  12. @Nathaniel - Try reading the fourth gospel for yourself, without preconceptions if possible; and see what you think...

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  13. I have never understood the prohibition in some churches against praying to the Son, or even to saints, ancestors, etc. Here on earth it is obviously acceptable to give praise and thanks to, and request help from, people other than the Father, and it's not clear why things should be any different just because the party of the second part is in now in heaven rather than on earth. If "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me!" was a perfectly acceptable thing to say to the mortal Jesus, why should we hesitate to say it to the risen Christ?

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  14. @William - I think the prohibition was probably an example of that too-common attempt to prohibit 'risky' activities and to keep people on a safe path - the risks being seen in terms of idolatry, and various aspects of Roman Catholicism with 'cults' of saints, seeling of artifacts etc. But without realising that it is intrinsic to Christianity that there is no safe path - and peril lies on both sides... a fact which ought to have been obvious from Jesus's relationships with the Pharisees.

    My general thesis is that Christianity was crippled early on by false/ alien metaphysics; which (among other things) makes it tend to collapse back into 'pure monotheism' of an (in essence) Judaic or Islamic type. Pure monotheism *can* be implemented by obedient rule following, that is its essence as a practice.

    I regard the prohibition on praying to Jesus (or anyone but the Father) as a (misguided) way of trying to impose pure monotheism on Christianity (to which monotheism is alien). The Credal Trinity formulations providing the metaphysical covering-fire/ camouflage/ confusion...

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