Pope Francis' call to change Lord's Prayer splits NI's churches
A call by Pope Francis to change the wording of the Lord's Prayer has divided opinion among local theologians.
The Pope objected to a line in the prayer, also known as the Our Father, that asks God to 'lead us not into temptation.'
The religious verse is spoken by millions every day and is believed by Christians to be a translation of the original Aramaic prayer Jesus entrusted to his disciples.
Speaking to the media in Italy, the 80-year-old cleric said the wording should be changed to reflect that it is not God who leads humans to sin.
"It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation," he said.
"I am the one who falls. It's not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn't do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It's Satan who leads us into temptation - that's his department."
He noted that the Catholic Church in France had already adapted the prayer to say 'do not let us fall into temptation'.
Fr Edward McGee from the Catholic Church's Diocese of Down and Connor said any new wording would first need to be passed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a high-ranking Vatican body.
But Church of Ireland Bishop Harold Miller supported the change. "I agree entirely with the Pope that 'Lead us not into temptation' is both a poor and confusing translation of that particular part of the Lord's Prayer," he said.
"The English Language Liturgical Consultation - an international body representing most of the churches - carefully translated that particular line as 'Do not bring us to the time of trial'."
At the Church of Ireland's 2004 General Synod, Bishop Miller backed such a change, but a democratic vote stuck to the traditional translation.
Rejecting any change was the Free Presbyterian Church moderator, the Rev Thomas Murray.
"I disagree with the Pope on most things," he said. "What he's saying here is the Lord's prayer isn't clear. I disagree with that. it's very clear and God doesn't tempt any man.
"I don't see any need to change because the context of the verse shows it's the devil we don't want to lead us into temptation."
Professor Gordon Campbell at the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's Union Theological College also opposed any change, but saw the difficulty of the Aramaic prayer passing through Greek, Latin and English translations.
"I do not believe that God can be tempted by evil or tempt anyone, so whenever I pray 'lead us not into temptation', I am neither thinking nor implying he might tempt us, or that I am requesting him not to," he said.
He explained that English Bibles often noted that the Greek translation of 'temptation' could also mean 'testing' or 'trial'.
"There is plenty of other evidence in the Bible that God's leading may involve us having to face trials, so 'lead us not into temptation' means something like 'don't lead (or bring) us into the time or place of testing or trial'," he said.
The Rev Roy Cooper from the Methodist Church in Ireland said the traditional Methodist version already substituted 'temptation' with 'save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.'
Rev Cooper explained: "This is a reminder that God does not lead us into temptation, but gives us the strength to resist it when it comes."