You've reached the shared blog of Michael Mckay and Todd Frederick. Two friends who have worked together in ministry and labored in similar educational endeavors. Please join us as we consider the interaction of Christianity with modern culture...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Corporate Prayer Behind the Scenes

I recently read an article by Dr. Grant Osborne in the current Journal of Evangelical Theology entitled, "Moving Forward on Our Knees: Corporate Prayer in the New Testament." It was a very good article tracing corporate prayer in Second Temple Judaism, the Gospels, Paul's epistles, general epistles and Revelation. I have had questions about the benefits, importance and power of corporate prayer for years. Probably most of these questions came from times I have actually prayed corporately at church and felt like it was more trial than victory. There is always the person who feels obligated to pray their knowledge of an OT story (whereas I am praying for a smiting), or the seemingly trivial requests for pet health (I know I am being overly critical here), or the simple fact that we often spend more time sharing requests than praying. All of these experiences together have probably made me groan inwardly about attending group prayer times and then feel guilty about why I don't see it as more important. I greatly appreciated Dr. Osborne's article. It was substantive and gave me several points to ponder. I want to share one of them.

Osborne points out that much of the prayer in the NT is corporate, but it seems masked by the English language's inability to distinguish between singular "you" and plural "you" (this is my summary of several of his observations). Readers from the South will feel they have an advantage here in the word, "You'all" and they do. But since the "Cotton Patch" Bible is not widely read, the advantage is minimal. So as we read a text on prayer and see the word "you", we assume it is speaking to us individually when in reality it is a plural "you" and may be referring to the local assembly.

Here is an illustration. James 4:3 states, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (TNIV) All the verbs here are 2nd person plural which means it is more a comment on corporate prayer (although I don't want to rule out the principle applying individually as well). Local churches are not getting what they ask for because they are asking amiss. This fits the context as well because James addresses the church's squabbles in verses 1,2. It is seeing passages like this in a new light that has really challenged me to want to engage in more corporate prayer. I feel like I am missing out on what could be happening. What new ministry could be started based on this passage of corporate prayer? What old ministry can be invigorated or empowered because of this passage? Perhaps our (my) American individualism is ruining an opportunity for the Lord to work through his people in a mighty, corporate way.

Friday, July 9, 2010


The above title is what you might hear at a bar at closing time. It is also the name of a book I am reading by Daniel Okrent. It is called “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.” The book is a fascinating read so far. I say ‘so far’ because I am only a small portion of the way through it, but it has already gotten me thinking of many things.

There have been two constitutional amendments which have limited the rights of individual citizens (the others limit the rights of the government): the 13th amendment forbids slavery and the 18th amendment (now repealed) made it a crime to buy and sell alcohol.

What is fascinating in the book so far is how influential American Christianity was to the whole temperance/prohibition movement for almost a whole century before the 18th amendment came into being. Christians were tired of the ‘demon’ alcohol and eventually wanted to remove it from society with the hopes that families would be healthy, prisons would be empty and members of society would be productive.

What strikes me as odd is how it seems (I say ‘seems’ because I am only a portion of the way through the book) that their theology was missing a critical understanding of the source of broken families, prison overpopulation and members of society being detrimental; they forgot about what the Bible calls personal sin, Calvinists call Total Depravity and Sirius Black (think “The Order of the Phoenix” movie) calls the “dark”ness in each person. Instead, legislation and government were turned to in order to correct humanity’s ‘demons’.

There are many parallels today with issues such as “medical” marijuana, gay marriage, abortion rights, etc. Is it really a good solution for Christians to expend time, money and energy influencing government in these issues when a lasting solution can only be found by a change of heart? (I should make a clarifying note here; the topic of abortion does not fit with the other two because government should limit the ‘rights’ of people to kill.) If the Church does not learn how to reach people by correctly identifying the problem, then how can we offer a meaningful solution which is found in Jesus Christ? The Mosaic Law was ineffective against curbing the sinful desires of humanity; will U.S. law be any better?

I am definitely not against Christians being in government, but I do think that if Christians only promote legislation with biblical precepts and do not at the same time share humanities need regarding sin and the Gospel then it will be a waste of time, money and energy. There needs to be a robust theology with a biblical sense of legislation (if at all) and its purpose. Personally, I wonder if some of the issues Christians are pushing for legislatively would be better left alone.

The irony of the prohibition amendment is that it caused tons of problems. People created a black market for liquor and syndicated crime (i.e. Al Capone) came into existence. Thankfully our government realized these problems and repealed the amendment.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Last night, I watched The Book of Eli, a post-apocalyptic quest movie. The lead character, played by Denzel Washington has a command from God to take the last remaining Bible to a safe place in 'the West.' To make a long story short, through many trials, he delivers the content of the Bible from his memory to the printing press of a colony dedicated to preserving books (a.k.a. my people). The movie ends with shots of the printing press making copies of the Bible. Commentators are divided as to whether or not the movie is explicitly, implicitly or incidentally Christian... I suppose a lot depends on your perspective.

The greater question, in my humble opinion, concerns how I, as a Christian, should respond to this movie and to movies in general? I think my response should be this: whenever Hollywood creates a cultural nexus to Christianity, I should have enough knowledge, ability and experience to influence another person toward faith in Christ, or to deeper faith in Christ. I should clarify where Hollywood's caricature of Christianity fails to match reality and where Christians objectively fail to measure up to a Biblical understanding of Christianity.

creates an opportunity to talk about how God actually did preserve His Word in the past and will preserve it in the future. I'm sure there are many inside and outside of Christianity who remain uninformed of the early church's struggle to preserve, copy and disseminate what we take for granted today, a complete Old and New Testament in our choice of translation.

The most disturbing element of the movie was the main character's hatred toward cats. The movie opens with the demise of a hairless cat, later consumed as food and shared with a mouse (sick irony!). Another scene shows the graphic shoving of a cat from a bar. What's up with that? If you love a tasty barbecued cat, no worries. But if you are the other kind of cat lover, be warned.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The first post:

Staring at the blank screen, I turned to my friend Michael and asked, 'what do we say?' He replied, just talk about the brain child.... Why are we saying anything at all?
We have enjoyed challenging and encouraging each other over the course of diverse ministry and educational endeavors and this blog becomes an extension of that encouragement and challenge. Our intention is to dialogue with each other (and any wandering souls who happen by) over things we care about deeply. Our common faith in Jesus Christ, our endeavors to study and learn about Him and how that understanding influences our lives.
The name 'metachoi' comes from the Greek word used to describe the 'act of sharing or participating.' It also has the meaning of 'business partner or companion.' For us, it carries the idea of colleagues. Partners who work together toward common goals.