Thursday, February 22, 2007

Does Prayer = World Peace?


On Monday, my wife and I finally went on our postponed Valentine's date, and on our drive home saw a billboard that caught our attention. The billboard featured pictures of different people from obviously different faiths - Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, etc. - all praying. The caption read, "A World at Prayer is a World at Peace." This is a well-intentioned sentiment from the well-intentioned Family Theater Productions, but it also happens to be a fatally flawed one.


On the face of it, in fact, this statement is patently false, if one takes "peace" here to mean the absence of war and aggression, or harmony and concord between individuals and groups (which I think is what they are getting at by globalizing it to the "world"), rather than a kind of individual inner peace. For example - Islamic suicide bombers pray fervently before strapping the bombs to their bodies. American soldiers pray fervently before entering the battlefield. (Note: I am not not necessarily drawing any moral equivalency between the two, but merely noting the presence of prayer in each scenario.) It doesn't seem to me that there is anything inherent in prayer in a generic sense that in any way ensures peace.

This also seem to view prayer from an anthropocentric, pluralist perspective. In other worlds, the focus seems to be on the human activity of prayer, rather than the object of prayer (God, Allah, etc.). Implicit in this statement and graphic, it seems to me, is the idea that it really doesn't matter to whom or what you pray, because really its the human psychological effect of prayer played out in the socio-political arena that makes for a state of peace in the world.

There certainly is a sense in which prayer can have a transforming effect on the one praying, but as a theist I can never lose sight of the fact that I am praying to someone independent of my own psychological state. The focus of prayer in my worldview is theocentric (God-centered), not anthropocentric (man-centered). And peace's common denominator cannot be prayer; the things that make for peace lie outside of this particular human endeavor. In fact, I believe a worldwide state of peace is by nature unattainable for a fallen world - the strife between each other stems ultimately from our own strife with our Creator.

8 comments:

Jacob said...

What if politics is the way to peace and the way to war? That seems pretty reasonable to me.

What really gets ugly is when you mix prayer with politics and begin to think that your policy is ordained by God.

Nicholas Jenkins said...

The comment by Jacob makes me shudder... 'cause it's true. *nick shakes his head* And thus another reason I fear the "W".

Jim Baxter said...

Consider:
The missing element in every human 'solution' is
an accurate definition of the creature.

The way we define 'human' determines our view of self,
others, relationships, institutions, life, and future. Many
problems in human experience are the result of false
and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe.
The balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human
reason cannot fully function in such a void; thus, the
intellect can rise no higher than the criteria by which it
perceives and measures values.

Humanism makes man his own standard of measure.
However, as with all measuring systems, a standard
must be greater than the value measured. Based on
preponderant ignorance and an egocentric carnal
nature, humanism demotes reason to the simpleton
task of excuse-making in behalf of the rule of appe-
tites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament,
cannot invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist
lacks a predictive capability. Without instinct or trans-
cendent criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with
foresight and vision for progression and survival. Lack-
ing foresight, man is blind to potential consequence and
is unwittingly committed to mediocrity, collectivism,
averages, and regression - and worse. Humanism is an
unworthy worship.

The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with
a functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the
foot-dragging growth of human knowledge and behav-
ior. Faith, initiated by the Creator and revealed and
validated in His Word, the Bible, brings a transcend-
ent standard to man the choice-maker. Other philo-
sophies and religions are man-made, humanism, and
thereby lack what only the Bible has:

1.Transcendent Criteria and
2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.

The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival
equipment for today and the future. Only the Creator,
who made us in His own image, is qualified to define
us accurately.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the
universe. selah

- from The HUMAN PARADIGM

Jim Baxter said...

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of variety. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes
his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall
that his other features are but vehicles of experi-
ence intent on the development of perceptive
awareness and the following acts of decision and
choice. Note that the products of man cannot define
him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-
making process and include the cognition of self,
the utility of experience, the development of value-
measuring systems and language, and the accultur-
ation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
creative process, is a choice-making process. His
articles, constructs, and commodities, however
marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idol-
atry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth's own
highest expression of the creative process.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and
significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean
fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the
forces of cause and effect to an elected level of qual-
ity and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a
natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and
bestows earth's title, The Choicemaker, on his
singular and plural brow.

- from The HUMAN PARADIGM

Jim Baxter said...

Tampering with man's selective nature endangers his
survival for it would render him impotent and obsolete
by denying the tools of variety, individuality,
perception, criteria, selectivity, and progress.
Coercive attempts produce revulsion, for such acts
are contrary to an indeterminate nature and nature's
indeterminate off-spring, man the Choicemaker.

Until the oppressors discover that wisdom only just
begins with a respectful acknowledgment of The Creator,
The Creation, and The Choicemaker, they will be ever
learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
The rejection of Creator-initiated standards relegates
the mind of man to its own primitive, empirical, and
delimited devices. It is thus that the human intellect
cannot ascend and function at any level higher than the
criteria by which it perceives and measures values.

Additionally, such rejection of transcendent criteria
self-denies man the vision and foresight essential to
decision-making for survival and progression. He is left,
instead, with the redundant wreckage of expensive hind-
sight, including human institutions characterized by
averages, mediocrity, and regression.

Humanism, mired in the circular and mundane egocentric
predicament, is ill-equipped to produce transcendent
criteria. Evidenced by those who do not perceive
superiority and thus find themselves beset by the shifting
winds of the carnal-ego; i.e., moods, feelings, desires,
appetites, etc., the mind becomes subordinate: a mere
device for excuse-making and rationalizing self-justifica-
tion.

The carnal-ego rejects criteria and self-discipline for such
instruments are tools of the mind and the attitude. The
appetites of the flesh have no need of standards for at the
point of contention standards are perceived as alien, re-
strictive, and inhibiting. Yet, the very survival of our
physical nature itself depends upon a maintained sover-
eignty of the mind and of the spirit.

It remained, therefore, to the initiative of a personal
and living Creator to traverse the human horizon and
fill the vast void of human ignorance with an intelli-
gent and definitive faith. Man is thus afforded the
prime tool of the intellect - a Transcendent Standard
by which he may measure values in experience, anticipate
results, and make enlightened and visionary choices.

Only the unique and superior God-man Person can deserved-
ly displace the ego-person from his predicament and free
the individual to measure values and choose in a more
excellent way. That sublime Person was indicated in the
words of the prophet Amos, "...said the Lord, Behold,
I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel."
Y'shua Mashiyach Jesus said, "If I be lifted up I will
draw all men unto myself."

As long as some choose to abdicate their personal reality
and submit to the delusions of humanism, determinism, and
collectivism, just so long will they be subject and re-
acting only, to be tossed by every impulse emanating from
others. Those who abdicate such reality may, in perfect
justice, find themselves weighed in the balances of their
own choosing.

That human institution which is structured on the
principle, "...all men are endowed by their Creator with
...Liberty...," is a system with its roots in the natural
Order of the universe. The opponents of such a system are
necessarily engaged in a losing contest with nature and
nature's God. Biblical principles are still today the
foundation under Western Civilization and the American
way of life. To the advent of a new season we commend the
present generation and the "multitudes in the valley of
decision."

Let us proclaim it. Behold!
The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV

- from The HUMAN PARADIGM

Jim Baxter said...

THE QUESTION AND THE ANSWER
Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son
of man that You visit him?" Psalm 8:4
A: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against
you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing
and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and
your descendants may live." Deuteronomy 30:19

Q: "Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that you are mindful of him?" Psalm
144:3
A: "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose
for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the
gods which your fathers served that were on the other
side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose
land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

Q: "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is
born of a woman, that he could be righteous?" Job 15:14
A: "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He
teach in the way he chooses." Psalm 25:12

Q: "What is man, that You should magnify him, that You
should set Your heart on him?" Job 7:17
A: "Do not envy the oppressor and choose none of his
ways." Proverbs 3:31

Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son
of man that You take care of him?" Hebrews 2:6
A: "I have chosen the way of truth; your judgments I have
laid before me." Psalm 119:30 "Let Your hand become my
help, for I have chosen Your precepts."Psalm 119:173

References:
Genesis 3:3,6 Deuteronomy 11:26-28; 30:19 Job 5:23
Isaiah 7:14-15; 13:12; 61:1 Amos 7:8 Joel 3:14
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

DEDICATION

Sir Isaac Newton
The greatest scientist in human history
a Bible-Believing Christian
an authority on the Bible's Book of Daniel
committed to individual value
and individual liberty

Daniel 9:25-26 Habakkuk 2:2-3 selah

Jim Baxter said...

Letters
Santa Maria (CA) TIMES 4/6/07

NOTICE:
April 2007AD

1. The Shroud has produced three-dimensional images of
a body moving in space. Please seek your own trustworthy
sources of verification. vincit veritas

2. The scientific world of physics is undergoing a revolutionary
change: a paradigm shift of universe proportions and implications.

Sir Isaac Newton would not be surprised. Joel 3:14 kjv

Have a truly Happy Resurrection Day!

semper fidelis
Jim Baxter
Santa Maria, CA

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Aaron Snell said...

James,

Thank you for visiting my blog, but I need to warn you about the nature of the comments you are leaving. They have no bearing on the posts to which they are attached and seem copied and pasted - in other words, they look to me like spam. My blog is not intended as a platform for other people's off-topic musings and arguments - it is a place of discussion over the topic at hand. Now, I would love to have your thoughts and comments here, and be able to interact with them, so you are always welcome to post. You are also always welcome to make a plug for your own site (which is really the proper venue for the stuff you're posting here). But I'm afraid that, in the future, any more posts like these will be deleted. I'll leave these up so my comments and instructions here have some context for the others reading.