De­liver me from evil

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Ge­orge Davis is a broad­cast ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and talk­show host. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­ and ge­orge.s.davis@hot­

IHAVE had a fun­da­men­tal prob­lem with an as­pect of the Lord’s Prayer since about 1996. The prob­lem emerged based on a short story I read and a com­ment made by one of the two char­ac­ters in the story.

I have raised the prob­lem with Chris­tians, sec­u­lar and Chris­tian aca­demics, Rasta­far­i­ans and free thinkers, with­out what I be­lieve to be a sat­is­fac­tory re­sponse or ex­pla­na­tion un­coloured by dogma, train­ing or in­doc­tri­na­tion.

The an­swers I have been given, es­pe­cially by the Chris­tians, al­ways go back to there be­ing noth­ing wrong with the prayer, only some­thing wrong with me. In some ways I be­lieve ar­ro­gance is a word that was cre­ated to de­scribe some Chris­tians or re­li­gious zealots. And I say so be­cause they give no thought to the idea that any­thing as­so­ci­ated with the Fa­ther, the Son and the Holy Ghost can be wrong. Noth­ing!

De­spite the ob­vi­ous and in­her­ent con­tra­dic­tions, they will tell you that noth­ing in the Bi­ble is wrong, even af­ter you re­mind them that God didn’t write the Good Book; man did. Given their at­ti­tude, it’s re­ally no sur­prise that the Chris­tians I have spo­ken to about the prob­lem have been un­able to make sense with their re­sponse. So what, then, is this prob­lem? It’s sim­ply this. Part of the Lord’s Prayer, taken from the tra­di­tional form pub­lished in the Angli­can Book of Com­mon Prayer in 1662, says, “and lead us not into temp­ta­tion, but de­liver us from evil”.


I’ve thought about that ex­cerpt long and hard. I’ve ex­am­ined it in iso­la­tion and in the con­text of the times it was given to Moses to pass on to the peo­ple. I’ve con­sid­ered it along­side the rest of what is un­doubt­edly the most fa­mous prayer in the Chris­tian world and I have con­cluded that it makes no sense.

First of all, as I un­der­stand it, faith is a jour­ney. You em­bark on a jour­ney with God to deepen your spir­i­tu­al­ity and build your faith. At a cer­tain point in the jour­ney, af­ter you’ve built your faith, you move to for­tify that faith, strong in the knowl­edge that you are at a point where you can with­stand the al­lure and pull of the sins of the world.

You start from zero and build your faith to a point of strength as you get deeper into your re­la­tion­ship with the Lord. I be­lieve that to ask God not to lead you into temp­ta­tion is cow­ardly and fool­ish, pre­cisely be­cause of how much ef­fort you would have in­vested in build­ing that faith.

In other words, you are an ath­lete who’s in train­ing ev­ery day, lift­ing weights, run­ning laps, do­ing en­durance work, abid­ing by strict diet and tak­ing sup­ple­ments, but within that process tell your coach that you do now want to be placed in a con­test.


What!? How then will you know how strong you are? How will you know what as­pects of your train­ing need to be tweaked to make you a bet­ter ath­lete? Why in­vest so much in faith build­ing, walk­ing hand in hand with God, and then turn around and pray to God, ask­ing him not test that faith? Non­sense! I be­lieve that it makes more sense to pray, ask­ing God to for­tify your faith dur­ing the var­i­ous pe­ri­ods of temp­ta­tions or tests, so you can emerge un­scathed. Any­thing else is hard to stom­ach.

To com­pound my prob­lem with the Lord’s Prayer is the other part of the ex­tract which says, “de­liver us from evil”. In ef­fect, you are ask­ing God not to al­low you to be tempted or tested, and then want­ing to be de­liv­ered from your non-test! It doesn’t make sense. And evil can mean the harm that peo­ple want to visit upon you or the dan­ger­ous things you will en­gage in and end up hurt­ing your­self.

I have been told by per­sons in the Church that I am at­tempt­ing to make a mock­ery of God through the use of sophistry. It has been said that be­cause I have read ‘two books’, I be­lieve I can in­tel­lec­tu­alise about what God has given to man. No such thing.

I’m just a man seek­ing an­swers to a per­plex­ing is­sue. If I am mis­guided in my thoughts, I wel­come those who wish to school me.


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