Imprecatory Prayer and Capitol Hill

I'm not exactly sure what "disturbs" people about the discussion of "hate" in the Bible. If you want to find verses about love you can find those too. But any student of the Bible should also realize how Luther and Calvin, for instance, dealt with the verses on love. They agreed that to love one's neighbor was fine, so long as God and His word weren't concerned, but if one's neighbor was blaspheming God or denigrating "the Word," then Luther and Calvin wouldn't give such a person even a glass of water if they were about to die of dehydration (Luther put it in those literal terms himself, see my quotations in chapter two of Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists avail at because by helping a blasphemer they would be helping to tear down God and the Bible, and "the Bible says we must serve God rather than man." I'm not saying that's the one and only possible interpretation of how Christians should act, but Luther and Calvin cited verses from BOTH testaments that certainly COULD be interpreteted that way, and since they held a very DEGNIGRATING idea of the power and sway of "original sin" on mankind, they believed that most of mankind was doomed anyway, while the rest required DISCIPLINE of a strict CHRISTIAN sort to try and keep them away from "sin." Today, people have a less denigrating idea of original sin and just nonchalantly sum up the doctrine as "well, we're all sinners, ha." So natually, they don't go about stressing the need to "hate those whom the Lord hates, with perfect hatred," and they don't stress that they need to "serve God rather than man," and hold hard line views on disciplining their children and society.

IN SHORT, the ATTITUDES of people toward original sin and toward each other have changed since Luther and Calvin's day, and hence the BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION changed as well. And that makes one realize how dependent biblical interpretations are on the cultures and attitudes of the people doing the interpreting. The same could be said of the question of interpretation of the pro-slavery passages in the Old and New testaments, and how the times changed, and THEN the interpretation changed.

Anyway, here's some more recent news concerning "imprecatory prayer," it's not restricted to three essays by home schooled children on the web.

In 1994 the Capitol Hill Prayer Alert, a Washington D.C.-based prayer group, produced a list of twenty-five Democratic incumbents, and urged prayer partners to petition God to bring evil upon the people on that list. "Don't hesitate to pray imprecatory Psalms over them," wrote one of the group's founders, Harry Valentine, in the group's newsletter. Imprecatory means to "call down evil upon." Such Psalms include: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow." (Ps. 109:8,9) "Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into Sheol." (Ps. 55:15)

"The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance: he shall wash his own feet in the blood of the wicked."
(Ps. 58:10) (How is this different from sticking pins in voodoo dolls, or whipping up a witch's brew and mumbling curses?
I guess it's all right for Christians to "curse" people so long as they use a "Biblically sound" method. - Skip)
- Skipp Porteous, "Election '94 Observations," Free Inquiry, Winter 1994/95

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