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The Lord's Prayer controversy

Here is a true example of a tempest in a teapot regarding the inerrancy of the Bible: Accepting Pope Francis' revised 'Our Father' would imply Jesus was wrong by Andrew Guernsey. As you may have heard, Pope Francis made the case that the long-accepted translation of the Lord's Prayer in the Bible might be improved. He suggested that a slight difference in the translation of one of its phrases might be a closer representation of the actual working of the Father; he suggested changing "lead us not into temptation" to "do not let us fall into temptation." We actually think it is a better translation; furthermore it is a closer interpretation of the Lord's Prayer in The Urantia Book, too, which reveals this phrase to be "save us from temptation." More on that below; but here are some pertinent snips from the article:

"January 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – As the press widely reported, Pope Francis has suggested changing the text of Our Father from "lead us not into temptation" to "do not let us fall into temptation."

"Pope Francis told TV2000 channel that to pray that God would "lead us not into temptation," as Christians have prayed for two millennia, 'is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.' Pope Francis insists that the Our Father's translation should be changed to render God's agency passive regarding temptation because 'I am the one who falls; it's not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn't do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It's Satan who leads us into temptation, that's his department.'

"Pope Francis' comments regarding the Our Father, however, are not merely esoteric issues of proper translation. Rather, Pope Francis' remarks imply that the words of Jesus Christ themselves are objectively erroneous, and that he as pope has the power to change them."

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If you decide to wade through this article, your eyes may glaze over, as mine did. It is a lengthy, scholarly, and detailed thesis regarding the original translation: how it was done, who did it, divine inspiration, "dire implications" of the Pope's suggestion, the Ten Commandments," etc, etc. In my view this controversy is an example of those who, like the Scribes and Pharisees, "strain out the gnat and swallow the camel." Or, as in this Urantia Book passage, a case of maybe trying a little too hard to get the point across:

48:7.30 28. The argumentative defense of any proposition is inversely proportional to the truth contained.

Why be so concerned over this phrase, or the Pope's suggestion about it? Do we really believe that God will not approve of us if we use one or the other of these phrases? Is God so petty that he will not hear us if we don't adhere to the Biblical version of this prayer? I suspect that this is the very reason that Jesus was so reluctant to leave writings behind; he may have seen ahead and he maybe knew that this sort of thing could happen...he did not want his words to become stumbling blocks for his children. When he prayed, he prayed from the heart, and we can do the same.

The Simple Message

There's a simple message contained in this simple prayer that Jesus gave us. It has five basic themes:

Acknowledgment and praise of God

Acknowledgment of his kingdom which comes as a result of doing his holy will

A prayer for sustenance through our lives

A prayer to strengthen us for forgiving our brethren, and finally

a prayer to be delivered from evil

But, true to form, those who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture can manage to ruin it for the sincere seeker by suggesting that the Biblical words - and ONLY those words - are the true words. ANY deviation is an affront to Jesus.

In all sincerity, I ask: do we really need to parse this phrase until it becomes almost meaningless? Can't we just all agree that we wish not to be hampered with evil in our lives? Can't we ask that of God without having to parrot the Biblically-correct version only?

Does this phrase change mean that people might think that Jesus was wrong, as the author charges?

It might mean that those who try to crystallize his teachings are the ones in error. I wonder if Jesus cares what we say, as long as we pray sincerely?

Sincere prayer is never an offense

Now, here's a real shocker for those who find the Pope's simple variation offensive: according to The Urantia Book, the Lord's Prayer (aka the Believer's Prayer) goes like this:

144:3.0 Said Jesus: "If, then, you ... desire such a prayer, I would present the one which I taught my brothers and sisters in Nazareth":

Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come; your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our bread for tomorrow;

Refresh our souls with the water of life.

And forgive us every one our debts

As we also have forgiven our debtors.

Save us in temptation, deliver us from evil,

And increasingly make us perfect like yourself.

Yes, it is different in some respects; but is the meaning changed? We think not. In fact, it seems to me to be quite a lovely variation on the Biblical offering; and not far off the meaning that the Pope suggested. It is hard to imagine that this version can be offensive.

What else did Jesus teach about prayer?

Jesus was actually somewhat reluctant to formalize this prayer; but since the apostles asked for a standard prayer that they could share with believer's he consented. However, later in that section, we read how Jesus himself prayed, and the conditions for really effective prayer:

144:3.16 Jesus gave the apostles the prayer in collective form as they had prayed it in the Nazareth home. He never taught a formal personal prayer, only group, family, or social petitions. And he never volunteered to do that.

Jesus taught that effective prayer must be:

1. Unselfish —not alone for oneself.

2. Believing—according to faith.

3. Sincere—honest of heart.

4. Intelligent—according to light.

5. Trustful—in submission to the Father's all-wise will.

When Jesus spent whole nights on the mountain in prayer, it was mainly for his disciples, particularly for the twelve. The Master prayed very little for himself, although he engaged in much worship of the nature of understanding communion with his Paradise Father.

Elsewhere in The Urantia Book, we learn that saying a formulaic prayer is really unnecessary; if it is the best we can do, there's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes, when we regularly say a standardized prayer by rote, it can be so familiar to us that we can even find our mind wandering...not focused on prayer at all. The Urantia Book advises:

91:8.12 Words are irrelevant to prayer; they are merely the intellectual channel in which the river of spiritual supplication may chance to flow. The word value of a prayer is purely autosuggestive in private devotions and sociosuggestive in group devotions. God answers the soul's attitude, not the words.

And this is followed by even more Conditions of Effective Prayer.

These teachings about effective prayer are consistent with Urantia Book teachings that encourage the believer to approach God as the heavenly Father...to develop and nurture a true Father-child relationship with him and speak to him in natural, heartfelt, and sincere words - real sentiments arising from our deepest heart.

More variations

And speaking of variations, Jesus gave the apostles several variations on this basic prayer, some of which Jesus said were from other inhabited planets (those he called "not of this flock"). And yet, they all basically contain the same five elements discussed above- just in different terms. Here are just two of these beautiful "Parable Prayers" :

144:5.2 Our Father in whom consist the universe realms,

Uplifted be your name and all-glorious your character.

Your presence encompasses us, and your glory is manifested

Imperfectly through us as it is in perfection shown on high.

Give us this day the vivifying forces of light,

And let us not stray into the evil bypaths of our imagination,

For yours is the glorious indwelling, the everlasting power,

Even so, and everlastingly true.

* * * * *

Our creative Parent, who is in the center of the universe,

Bestow upon us your nature and give to us your character.

Make us sons and daughters of yours by grace

And glorify your name through our eternal achievement.

Your adjusting and controlling spirit give to live and dwell within us

That we may do your will on this sphere as angels do your bidding in light.

Sustain us this day in our progress along the path of truth.

Deliver us from inertia, evil, and all sinful transgression.

Be patient with us as we show loving- kindness to our fellows.

Shed abroad the spirit of your mercy in our creature hearts.

Lead us by your own hand, step by step, through the uncertain maze of life,

And when our end shall come, receive into your own bosom our faithful spirits.

Even so, not our desires but your will be done.

And there are five more of these variations which we think are simply lovely. And we suspect that God accepts them and their sincere sentiments every bit as much as the so-called sacredly correct version from the Bible:

What do YOU think?

Please see our topical study on PRAYER, which is rich with numerous links that will take you into a wealth of prayer teachings from Jesus and from the authors of The Urantia Book.

A new revelation

As we often say - we are not in the business of trashing anyone's religion or anyone's beliefs; nevertheless, we write these blogs for those among us who are seeking more than traditional Christianity - those who are willing to think outside the box of crystallized dogmas, so-called sacred scriptures, and tired theologies from centuries past. The Urantia Book is here on our world as a means to help the sincere seeker do just that. Its teachings are solid, inspiring, informational, transformative. Most especially, we recommend Part IV of The Urantia Book - the Life and Teachings of Jesus: the most valuable knowledge that a seeker can find about the Master anywhere!

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