Al Mohler: This Is the Lord’s—Not the Pope’s—Prayer

Lord's Prayer
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The way Jesus taught his disciples to pray to God the Father has not been translated well, according to Pope Francis.

In a television interview Francis said the section of the Lord’s Prayer that reads “and lead us not into temptation” would be better translated “do not let us give in to temptation” and suggested it be updated.

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the New York Times he was “shocked and appalled by the proposal” adding, “This is the Lord’s Prayer. It is not, and has never been, the pope’s prayer.”

Francis said he objects to the wording because God does not lead people into temptation; Satan does.  

Catholic Online downplayed the change, “To be clear, Pope Francis is not actually changing the Lord’s prayer, but rather clearing up the translation to ensure people clearly understand what is meant.

TRANSLATION OR EXPOSITION

Mohler said the Pope wasn’t wrong in saying that God does not lead humans to sin. He pointed out in a recent podcast that statement is verified by James 1:13-14:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”

Mohler says his biggest concern is not the fact that the Lord’s Prayer might require some explanation, it’s what the proposed change insinuates about the nature of Scripture and what it misconstrues in terms of the task of translation.

He says the role of the church and church leaders is to offer explanation and exposition. It is the part of translators to do their very best to offer a direct translation.

TEMPTED VS. TESTED

The Rev. Ian Paul, an Anglican theologian, told the Guardian he understands the point the pope was trying to make. He said the Greek word in question is “peirasmos,” which means “both to tempt and to be tested.”

David W. Pao, chair of the New Testament Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, told the Christian Post, “If ‘temptation’ is understood as ‘temptation that leads to sin’ then it is important to emphasize that God does not lead people into such ‘temptation.’ Nevertheless, the underlying Greek word behind ‘temptation’ can also refer more generally to ‘testing,’ and the Bible does describe God bringing His people into times of ‘testing.'”  

Two examples are Job, who God gave permission to Satan to test, and Jesus being led into the wilderness by the Father Himself in order to be tested.

NATURE OF SCRIPTURE

But aside from other meanings for the word “peirasmos” Mohler has a second major concern, and that is with the nature of Scripture itself. He told his podcast listeners that the articles about the proposed change to the Lord’s Prayer suggest that we have the right to determine what Jesus actually meant and then conform the text to our expectations.  

Mohler holds to the view of verbal plenary inspiration of the original manuscripts. That means that we have in the Greek New Testament, by the very sovereign power of God, exactly the words we need, to know exactly what Jesus said. Mohler said, “It is the words that bear this inspiration, every single word, the full weight of that inspiration.”  

“We must affirm the fact that our sovereign, omnipotent all loving God does sometimes allow his creatures to be tested. Jesus taught his own disciples that it certainly is not wrong to pray to the father that we not be tested, but it certainly would be wrong to change the translation to appear to make the Scriptures say that God never tests us.”

Following the pope’s interview, the new version of the Lord’s Prayer was adopted by both the French Catholic church and the French Protestant church.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.

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