Two Men Worth Commending

21 posts / 0 new
Last post
Jeff Straub's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 94

Tags: 

NickImage

Praise where praise is due! In recent days, two men, both pastors, have done us a favor by setting a public example of taking a stand in an unpopular arena. The first is Hershael York, pastor of the Buck Run Baptist Church of Frankfort, Kentucky. He was invited to deliver the invocation before the Kentucky legislature on the night in which Governor Steve Beshear would deliver his budget speech. Beshear is lobbying hard for legalizing gambling in the state, largely because Kentucky dollars are going to neighboring states that allow gambling. Beshear is another politician in a long line of pragmatists who think that the end justifies the means. York, in striking contrast, offered this prayer for the legislators:

Help us to admit that we cannot truly love our neighbor as ourselves and then scheme to get his money by enticing him with vain hope. May they not lead this state to share profits from an industry that preys on greed or desperation.

Help us to foster salaries and not slot machines, to build cars and enable jobs—not license casinos and seduce the simple into losing what they have. May their greatest concern not be that we get our share of the family’s losses, but that we foster a sense of hope and justice that creates opportunity and leads to success.

Bully for York for offering a courageous prayer in the face of such pressure. In doing so, he is standing in a long line of preachers and prophets who had the opportunity and courage to cry out against the iniquity of the day. Like Nathan the prophet rebuking King David, or John Knox shaking his finger in the face of the Queen, York besought God publicly for politicians to put righteousness ahead of expediency. Sadly, his prayer fell on the governor’s deaf ears, as the video linked above demonstrates: Beshear followed York’s invocation by continuing to angle for legalized gaming.

The other man worthy of commendation, also a Southern Baptist, is Voddie Baucham, Pastor of Preaching at the Grace Family Baptist Church of Spring, Texas. Baucham was invited to fill the spot vacated by Mark Dever in James MacDonald’s Elephant Room 2. Dever bowed out when he learned that MacDonald had also invited Bishop T. D. Jakes of the Potter’s House; Jakes is a Oneness Pentecostal who preaches a prosperity gospel. With Dever gone, MacDonald invited Baucham to stand in. Baucham considered the venue and the invitation of Jakes and declined the invitation.

However, Baucham had already been scheduled to preach at a Harvest-sponsored Men’s Conference that followed shortly after the Elephant Room 2 conversation. Enough has been written on the lack of clarity with which Jakes answered the questions on his view of the Trinity and the shallowness of the nature of some of those questions. However, Baucham had to field questions from his own constituency about the Elephant Room conversation because of the following Men’s Conference.

Because of the lack of clarity on the Trinity and the failure of the ER2 participants to address Jakes’s prosperity gospel, Baucham responded publicly to the issue via his Facebook page knowing full well that he was to preach for MacDonald soon thereafter. Baucham showed up at Harvest and, after a brief conversation with MacDonald, was disinvited from speaking at the Men’s Conference. Baucham’s rationale for speaking out against the ER2 interview with Jakes may be found here.

Whether or not one agrees with these men over their association with the Southern Baptist Convention, we can certainly appreciate their forthright stand for righteousness in the face of a clear challenge to truth. York could have privately admonished the governor against the gambling issue and Baucham could have chosen remain silent after the ER2 meeting, but both men felt that silence on their part implied some form of tacit agreement. Both men are to be commended for the stand. They serve as models of gracious opposition.

For All The Saints
William W. How (1823-1897)

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be for ever blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on his way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

[node:bio/jeff-straub body]

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7370
Well, one out of two

Glad for Baucham's stand.
As for the prayer... well, he's got some good points there but prayer isn't a good substitute for debate. It isn't the place to make these points.
I can't blame York for wanting to bring some attention to his ideas. Good intentions.

But the idea that gambling exploits the poor really should be debated in the legislature, so... pressure on a representative, or an organized protest (which is also pressure on a representative) etc., would be some better options.

A prayer is just not the place to preach against something.

Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 782
I do not approve of preaching

I do not approve of preaching prayers but I also believe that it is possible to lead a people to consider their sin before the Lord as we are all bowed before Him. Last year, I prayed at a public event at the New York State Capital and I prayed that the leaders, some of whom were standing right next to me, would look to God to settle the confusion over marriage. Some people might of have frowned upon that as preaching a prayer. My heart, was to simply help them consider this issue as we were bowed in His presence.

Preachers must be free to bring up the evil in our midst when we are bowed before the Lord as the Spirit of God directs. When I offered that public prayer, I felt that it would have been wickedness for us all to sit there bowed in the presence of the Almighty and not mention this issue which was heavy on poeple's minds.

Offline
Since
Mon, 3/7/11
Posts: 336
FYI

I didn't see this mentioned in the essay, but York is also http://www.sbts.edu/theology/faculty/hershael-york/ professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.

The whole prayer can be heard http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=36995 ]here

Jeff Straub's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 94
The choices of Herschel York

Assuming Herschel did not invite himself to give the invocation and assuming that he had good reason to believe that the governor would advocate FOR the acceptance of gaming in KY in his speech, what COULD he have done?

1. Decline the invitation for any number of reasons and avoided the issue

2. Accept the invitation but keep the prayer completely free of any reference to the issues at hand.

3. Accept the invitation and say something

4. Is there another option I am missing?

If he had done #1, he would, I think, implicitly say pastors have no roll in the secular world.

If he had done #2, he would have failed at being salt and light, IMO. How does a faithful man of God pray a prayer in this kind of a venue that offends no one?

If he did #3 but said less, he would still have been criticizing for saying ANYthing.

Assuming he was genuinely praying . . . Who among us NEVER says anything in our prayers that someone wouldn't conceive of as preaching?

Aaron, I have never to, my knowledge, heard you pray publicly, much less in your own church, but I wonder if your church people would say you NEVER preach when you pray? I have regularly prayed in such a way to carry on my sermon, not to give myself an extra 5 minutes of preaching but to implore God to lead the people to do what I have just proclaimed.

If York was genuinely praying and he wished to honor God and beseech him with specifity for the need of the hour in the face of a governor intent on pushing through an act that promotes societal degeneration, what should he have said?

Therefore, kudos!

Jeff Straub

CPHurst's picture
Offline
Since
Thu, 12/17/09
Posts: 186
I am very thankful for

I am very thankful for Baucham speaking out on this in the way he did.

Offline
Since
Wed, 12/30/09
Posts: 33
Hershael York Preaching Book

I recently read a book that was co-authored by Hershael York called Preaching with Bold Assurance. I don't necessarily endorse the whole thing, but I recommend it as a good read.

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7370
Preaching in prayer

Quote:
Aaron, I have never to, my knowledge, heard you pray publicly, much less in your own church, but I wonder if your church people would say you NEVER preach when you pray?

I don't believe I claimed to have never done it. ( http://www.fallacyfiles.org/tuquoque.html tu quoque ?) I do consciously try to avoid it.

It would be possible and appropriate to reference the situation in the prayer. But York's prayer goes way beyond that.

Quote:
Assuming Herschel did not invite himself to give the invocation and assuming that he had good reason to believe that the governor would advocate FOR the acceptance of gaming in KY in his speech, what COULD he have done?

This was a meeting of the legislature, right? Why would seeking God for wisdom and courage on behalf of the group constitute an endorsement of any of their decisions? Unless I'm missing something, there would be no reason to see it that way. We do not have a command to "use public prayers as salt and light," so an opportunity to pray is probably not an opportunity to 'be salt and light' in that sense.

Susan R's picture
Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 4357
Trickle down

I am also appreciative of men who take a stand against Christianity's celebrities and darlings when they are in error. If more men took conscientious stands against immorality and apostasy, maybe there would be some trickle down, and fewer churches would be supporting hirelings instead of pastors.

Jeff Straub's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 94
Aaron Blumer][quote wrote: We

Aaron Blumer ][quote wrote:
We do not have a command to "use public prayers as salt and light," so an opportunity to pray is probably not an opportunity to 'be salt and light' in that sense.

Soooooooo the only way to be salt and light in our world must be commanded?

Ok, but this view seems a bit narrow to me.

Jeff Straub

DavidO's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 5/3/10
Posts: 793
I think the point of Aaron's

I think the point of Aaron's objection is the privelege of addressing the King of Heaven is not to be used as a means of influencing the people who happen to be present when we do so.

About this privelege we have received instruction.

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7370
No...

JS wrote:
Soooooooo the only way to be salt and light in our world must be commanded?
Ok, but this view seems a bit narrow to me.

No, didn't say that either.

Your argument was:
If he attends the event and doesn't speak out against its decisions in his prayer, he is failing to be salt and light.
My counter was:
We do not have a command to be salt in light via our prayers.

So, while I would agree that "being salt and light" is a principle with many applications, it isn't obvious that using a prayer to denounce legislation is one of those applications (i.e., that refraining to use a prayer this way would be a failure to live that principle.)
So the question would be, why should we conclude that the salt and light principle requires this particular application?

Jeff Straub's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 94
On the nature of PUBLIC prayer

While I agree with DavidO that prayer is directed at the King of Heaven, public prayer is more than simply talking to God out loud.

I would argee that if it was simply York's intention to make a point to the legislators and he chose this avenue to do it, then it would be inappropriate.

But giving him the benefit of the doubt . . . no doubt (and maybe there is doubt) there were legistors waffling on what to do in this instance and York was imploring heaven to aid them to do what was right.

Was he merely over zealous and said too much, or are you arguing that he should not have said anything at all?

My whole point with the essay was to say that here were two men with conviction that took their stand on matters they felt important. And they did not do so in the closet. It really was not to suggest that everything they did or said was spot on or couldn't have been done better.

Jeff Straub

DavidO's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 5/3/10
Posts: 793
I was rethinking this whole

I was rethinking this whole thing today. I don't have a problem with a man praying what is on his heart. Nor would I say I disagree with the policy matters he included in his prayer, at least on their face.

I think it is the notion of taking a stand via prayer. Seems like a misuse in a way I might not fully be able to articulate other than to say doing so seems to me to change the primary focus of prayer.

The only close scriptural example I can think of is Nehemiah's prayer, likely in the presence of the earthly king to whom he was about to appeal.

Quote:
O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of [the king ].

No specifics, if this is a word for word record.

Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 303
Nehemiah's prayer

It almost certainly wasn't in the presence of the king, if you look at the whole context. The events of chapter two came four months after chapter one. Nehemiah prayed about this for four months, and even then he didn't initiate the conversation with the king, the king did.

I agree with Dr. Straub that it would have been a failure, given the circumstance, for Pastor York to say nothing. I also agree that public prayer is not the time for debate. It would have been sufficient to pray that the decisions of the day would be made, not for convenience or financial benefit, but based on righteous principles. You are asking >God< to work, and He knows exactly what you mean, and so does everyone else who is willing to think about righteous principles. Those who aren't willing aren't going to listen to your prayer anyway. More than that certainly could have been said, but in my opinion (which few people care about, and perhaps some who do care shouldn't :)), he crossed the line into debate.

To recite debate points in prayer is both lowering prayer (as others have noted) and a form of political cheating. On a political level, it is somewhat akin to President Obama blasting SCOTUS in the State of the Union address. They had to listen and couldn't respond. It is cheap and tacky. I'm glad he wanted to take a stand and had the courage to do so, but this was not the way to do it.

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 959
If you had one opportunity to

If you had one opportunity to speak biblical truth before the government about something that the government was about to do and did not do it, you would be a coward.

If the legislature was about to vote on abortion and York prayed that people would not consent to mindless infanticide, that would not be inappropriate at all. Scripture truth is not debate talking points.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7370
Theocracy

Quote:
If you had one opportunity to speak biblical truth before the government about something that the government was about to do and did not do it, you would be a coward.

If the legislature was about to vote on abortion and York prayed that people would not consent to mindless infanticide, that would not be inappropriate at all. Scripture truth is not debate talking points.


Actually, since we don't live in a theocracy, Scripture truths are debate assertions.
We cannot--and don't want to--govern by forcing everyone to comply with what the Bible teaches. There's no actual faith in that.

But we do want to see our society be blessed by honoring the realities of right and wrong revealed in Scripture. So how do we make that happen? The only way is to be persuasive in public debate.

We can either be coercive or persuasive. I don't see any other options.

If our obligation is to be persuasive, then we ought to speak in ways that are likely to be effective.

But really, more at issue here is whether an invitation to pray is supposed to be seen as an invitation to address the legislature. My view is that even if the legislature views it that way (which I doubt), it's not biblical to view it that way. It's pretty hard to find "confrontational prayers" in Scripture... which only makes sense since the audience is God.
I'll grant that leading in prayer is a special kind of prayer. But it's still fundamentally about leading others in seeking God, not telling others what God thinks about things.

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 959
Aaron, even in a theocracy,

Aaron, even in a theocracy, people did not live or believe Scriptural truths, so no, they aren't debate assertions. The command to not steal is not a debate talking point.

No one is arguing governing by force. I was talking about a preacher with the opportunity to proclaim truth in a format given to him.

Technically speaking, those unbelievers were not led in prayer at all. So it had a twofold benefit at least: 1) prayer for right decisions, 2) rebuking evil decisions.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Offline
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 303
Speaking Before the Government

James K wrote:
If you had one opportunity to speak biblical truth before the government about something that the government was about to do and did not do it, you would be a coward.

James, thanks for responding to my comment. I want to parse what you've said here, so you can then explain to me why I'm misunderstanding it. Smile

1. You are saying that he was speaking Biblical truth before the government. I say that prayer is speaking to the Lord.
2. You are saying this was his one opportunity to speak Biblical truth. I say that in America today there are many opportunities. He could have walked outside the chamber and stood on the front steps and began saying whatever he wanted. He could have been writing, phoning, protesting, etc.
3. You are saying that if we only have one chance, we need to seize it. I say that we need to be sure that our words in every situation are always with grace, that we don't need to "seize a chance", and that it is God and not me that changes hearts. Nothing I say will make one bit of difference unless God works, whether I have one, zero, or many chances, so the most important thing is to make sure my words are exactly as God wants them to be.

I say he was not invited to "speak before the government," but rather to speak to God, and it was bad manners for him to do the former. It violated the spirit (though probably not the explicit terms) of his invitation, and was not peaceable.

In brief, I think this comment was not of the standard I might have expected from you. Smile I welcome push-back.

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7370
"Debate points"

James K...
I guess I don't know what you mean by debate points. To me, a "debate point" is something you believe is true and value enough that you seek to persuade others as well.
You seem to be assuming that a debate point cannot be something that is absolutely true and that you believe with total conviction. But these are ultimately the only things worth debating.

Of course, you're welcome to your own definition. But no Christian believes that the moral principles of Scripture are just stuff to randomly and insincerely yak about.

James K's picture
Offline
Since
Sun, 8/29/10
Posts: 959
JG, I had not even read your

JG, I had not even read your post when I originally posted. I was not responding to you. Sorry.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.