The interfaith liturgy

Mollie Z. Hemingway, reporting on the Democratic convention’s interfaith service, usefully sums up the liturgy, structure, and meaning of interfaith services:

Interfaith worship services usually follow a Judeo-Christian liturgy but with the insertion of other Scriptures and clergy. So instead of a procession of clergy behind, say, a crucifix, the clergy were led by four Native Americans beating drums.

Rather than a reading from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament, and a Gospel — as you would hear in a liturgical Christian service — there were readings from the Torah, the Sutra Nipata, the Koran, and more from the Old Testament. No New Testament. It is unsurprising that no reading contained a claim of exclusivity or, for that matter, any claim that adherents of a different religion would disagree with. Rather than using proper names to refer to prophets or deities, clergy tend to overload on pronouns and non-descript names. “Lord,” rather than “Jesus.” “The God of Leviticus” becomes “Holy One of Blessing.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    For years Christians have fought for prayers at public events. But we lost that fight at its heart, and now we need to call for banning prayers, I fear. Better no prayer at all than a pinch of incense to Caesar, or to any other so-called Lord.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    For years Christians have fought for prayers at public events. But we lost that fight at its heart, and now we need to call for banning prayers, I fear. Better no prayer at all than a pinch of incense to Caesar, or to any other so-called Lord.

  • PeteS

    From the article:
    Sister Prejean was one exception to the vague pronoun rule. She invoked Jesus’s name repeatedly, including once when she wondered whether the Biblical account of Jesus’s crucifixion was a “projection of our violent society.”

    Though the congregation strongly applauded and gave standing ovations throughout her keynote address, there was momentary silence when she challenged them about the Christian account that God allowed his son to be sacrificed for the sins of humanity. “Is this a God or is this an ogre?”

    My question: Can a nun be defrocked? Or would she be uninhabited?

    One would think that hearing such words would help people understand that how we express fellowship is important and says something, real or implied, about what we believe. Do you think everyone at the convention was comfortable with the sister’s words? Not likely, and it sure didn’t seem so from the reaction of the crowd. Some, sure, but not all. For those paying attention, this service won’t do much to sway the undecided Christian. But how many will pay attention?

  • PeteS

    From the article:
    Sister Prejean was one exception to the vague pronoun rule. She invoked Jesus’s name repeatedly, including once when she wondered whether the Biblical account of Jesus’s crucifixion was a “projection of our violent society.”

    Though the congregation strongly applauded and gave standing ovations throughout her keynote address, there was momentary silence when she challenged them about the Christian account that God allowed his son to be sacrificed for the sins of humanity. “Is this a God or is this an ogre?”

    My question: Can a nun be defrocked? Or would she be uninhabited?

    One would think that hearing such words would help people understand that how we express fellowship is important and says something, real or implied, about what we believe. Do you think everyone at the convention was comfortable with the sister’s words? Not likely, and it sure didn’t seem so from the reaction of the crowd. Some, sure, but not all. For those paying attention, this service won’t do much to sway the undecided Christian. But how many will pay attention?

  • Bruce

    That nun is definitely inhabited. Christ have mercy.

  • Bruce

    That nun is definitely inhabited. Christ have mercy.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Nevertheless, the good sister does serve a good purpose. She is a walking, talking argument against woman’s ordination.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Greg DeVore

    Nevertheless, the good sister does serve a good purpose. She is a walking, talking argument against woman’s ordination.

  • Michael the little boot

    Wow. I guess that makes Greg a walking, talking argument against the ordination of men? Perhaps we’ll have to go with the great theologians Parker and Stone: start ordaining bunnies.

  • Michael the little boot

    Wow. I guess that makes Greg a walking, talking argument against the ordination of men? Perhaps we’ll have to go with the great theologians Parker and Stone: start ordaining bunnies.


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