What has been largely missed in the controversy over the ‘banning’ by Digital Cinema Media of the Church of England’s Lord’s Prayer advertisement is that the advert fails to mention Jesus.
This is a serious omission because it was the Lord Jesus Christ who taught this prayer to his followers (see Matthew 5v9-13 and Luke 11v1-4).
The advert therefore should have begun with the Archbishop of Canterbury announcing that this is the prayer that the Lord Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of the one true God, taught his followers to pray.
If Archbishop Welby had done that, then the advert would be clear that the Lord’s Prayer is a specifically Christian prayer and so cannot be prayed with integrity by people who are choosing to adhere to non-Christian faiths, including Allah-worshipping Muslims, whether moderate or jihadist.
That is because the Quran is explicit that Allah does not have an eternally begotten, divine Son. For example, this saying from Mohammed’s Meccan period, which has produced generally more peaceable teaching than his later pronouncements in Medina, clearly rules out the New Testament view of Jesus as articulated in the Nicene Creed: ‘Allah is One, the Eternal God. He begot none, nor was He begotten. None is equal to Him’ (Sura 112: 1 – trans. N.J. Dawood).
In the light of the Church of England’s biblical doctrine about the divinity of the Son of God, the advert’s air-brushing of the Lord Jesus is particularly regrettable. In contrast to the Quran, Article II of the national Church’s 39 Articles of Religion – Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man – teaches:
‘The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.’
If the DCM ban is overturned, then, out of love for lost people who desperately need Jesus’ forgiveness, the Church of England’s communications department has a pressing spiritual duty to commission a new advert that makes clear who the Lord in the Lord’s Prayer is.