Reflection on the Lord's Prayer

I have described Christian theology as "the set of inferences constitutive of a proper reading of the story of Jesus Christ." Wrong inferences would be assumptions we make that mislead rather than guide our telling of Jesus' story. This exercise is a little exploration of what such a distortion might do to Christian storytelling.

Matthew's version of the Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) reads:

(9) "Pray then in this way: 'Our Father in heaven, let your name be held holy. (10) Let your kingdom come, let your will be done, as in heaven so on earth. (11) Give us today our daily bread. (12) And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors. (13) And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'"

Christological and Trinitarian doctrines describe the identity of Jesus Christ. A different doctrine implies that Jesus has a different identity. If a doctrine alters Jesus' identity, how does that alter the prayer's meaning? Record an on-line chat with the others in your small group concerning this topic:

Discuss how two Christological and/or Trinitarian heresies from Christian history (that is, two fundamentally defective accounts of Jesus relating to his humanity, divinity, personhood, and/or relations with the Father and the Spirit) alters the meaning of the Lord's Prayer. Draw from the heresies described in lectures,and secondary readings (especially the relevant pages in Wilson's Primer, Wilken, Barth, Ratzinger, and so on) and draw on these resources to make your points.

Draw your discussion to a close by answering this question together: Is each such alteration such a fundamental distortion that the Church has been right to reject that teaching as heretical?

I do not care which chat service you use, as long as I can identify which words in your chat log come from whom. You could even do this over e-mail, AIM, or some other method for holding a conversation on-line.

You can read a sample of the way I myself would begin to answer this question in this chapter of the book I have recently written on the Lord's Prayer.

Strive for each student's contribution to the chat to approximate about three pages of double-spaced text (that is, 800-1000 words). Follow the guidelines in my page on chatting to learn and to teach. Where relevant in other respects, follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. If you are also consulting Harvey, pay particular attention to chapter 3.

Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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