Herald-Leader columnist talks of grace, humility and love

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By Joan C. McKinney

Grace. Humility. Love.

The Rev. Paul Prather, pastor and contributing columnist at the Lexington Herald-Leader, spoke of evangelical Christians and the intersection of faith and public policy at a Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy address recently on campus.

Prather, who pastors Bethesda Church in Mt. Sterling, said grace, humility and love will serve evangelical Christians well in life.

"We ought to be humble," he said.

He said the church is declining in influence, citing statistics, and more people have no faith at all.

"What evangelical Christians need to be is for the grace of God by helping others, forgiving, accepting and loving others," he said. He said we think we speak of God, but we really speak of our self.

Prather said sometimes it isn't what people say, it's the tone in which they say it.

"Jesus is neither Republican nor Democrat," he said. He said people are sometimes mean spirited in the name of Jesus.

Prather said he thinks every issue is a religious issue. He has been a journalist for 20 years and a minister for 30 years and said the columns he writes bring strong reaction from the public.

"We are all trying to live out our faith and people are very serious about their faith, but our priorities are different.

"Be careful that you don't confuse our will for God's will," he said. "We claim sometimes that we're speaking for God, and we can convince ourselves that we can get the Bible to say anything we want it to say."

Prather was born in Somerset and grew up in Taylor County, where his father was a pastor and administrator at Campbellsville College.

"My roots run deep at CU," he said.

Prather also attended Campbellsville College for one year.

He said he learned conservative religion in rural churches where folks were in favor of the separation of church and state. He said he wrote a column to that effect and got many calls about that idea. He said what used to be liberal is now conservative and vice versa.

Prather said the primary sin in the Bible is pride.

"We as evangelical Christians can't admit to the world that we are as messed up as others. We are trying to be good, and we could be wrong."

"God loves everybody," Prather said. "Love is the tool of God that never fails. God loves those who blatantly hates him."

He said acceptance is not the same as agreement.

"We are to focus on intrinsic worth, not faults."

- Joan C. McKinney is news and publications coordinator at Campbellsville University.