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Praying the News: Notre Dame Fire

Some tragedies are permitted by God for a greater good, to bring into focus an evil or unsatisfactory situation. An example from the Bible is the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by Babylonian invaders. Perhaps the burning of Notre Dame is such an event. Notre Dame has been the symbol for Catholicism and France’s Christian heritage for centuries. It survived the ruthless anti-Christian French Revolution and the Nazi occupation of France. Like many Catholic churches in France in the post-War era, it has been mostly a center for tourists to come to and marvel at its architectural and artistic beauties in statues and stained glass windows. Thankfully, most of the art works were saved, and we trust that the cathedral will be rebuilt to its original beauty and glory.

Notre Dame de Paris (“Our Lady of Paris”) on fire, April 15, 2019.
Image: Antoninnnnn / Wikimedia Commons

Of course, many in the Reformed tradition are suspicious of its statues as an incitement to idol worship.  As a Catholic boy and young man, I lived through the Pre-Vatican II excesses of statue veneration. Lighting candles to some saint for healing requests were then commonplace. As an Anglican, I favor the Reformed (iconoclast) position. When I pastored a small Hispanic congregation, I did not permit any form of statues. Our Stations of the Cross were in the icon format, thus obeying the biblical injunction against “graven images,” yet allowing the beauty of icons to serve the imagination of the congregation. I also appreciate Christian sculptures that are not intended for worship, such as representations of the angels that covered the Ark of the Covenant.

This posting, however, is not meant for making contention or as a critique of Catholic practices. Rather, I want to challenge readers. I want to encourage you to join me in united prayer for French Christians in this time of sorrow.

Let’s pray:

  • That the burning of Notre Dame remind the French people, including their large secular population, how old and precious their Christian heritage is, and how it is the foundation of French culture.
  • That the burning and reconstruction of Notre Dame bring the French people to the realization that their Christian heritage is the only true bulwark against radical Muslims who have now become so active in France. Islamists who have a profound hatred for the West and France now effectively control many neighborhoods in French cities. Police action or secular appeals will not change this. Rather, a revival of Spirit-filled Christianity—as in the French Catholic Charismatic renewal and Protestant Spirit-filled congregations—can model the love and power of the Gospel.
  • That when Notre Dame is eventually re-opened, it will no longer be primarily a tourist spot and religious museum, but the center of a renewed French Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant.


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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2019

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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