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Prison ministries?

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by padre31, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    I'm a bit torn on these, here is why:

    Upside:

    -can change lives for the good
    -offers at least a basic level of literacy and spirituality

    Downside:

    -the effort smacks of the State saying "be good boys and girls and we will use this to train you"
    -Not sure if such a faith is legitimate, meaning inmates may just be doing so just to go to chapel etc

    What I do find ironic is Christ was ultimately branded a criminal, and put to death, so now the very apparatus that did so is going to use his teachings to pacify those who run afoul of the State.

    At the end of the day, Christ was a revolutionary, not a status quo ante type of person
     
  2. Alex44

    Alex44 Boshosaurus Rex

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    Alright I'm not Christian at all....but isn't one of the very basic concepts that your sins don't matter so long as you find Christ and repent for said sins?
     
  3. RevRick

    RevRick Long Haired Leaping Gnome Club Member

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    Actually, it is not that your sins don't matter, it is that they are forgiven - provided that there is a relationship with Christ, not just saying that one has 'found the Lord.' This is because there is something out there called the "fruits" of one's faith. In other words, most of us who have been around can see someone just going through the motions in almost any endeavor - and recognize that. The same is true for Christians. Remarkably, one of the most notably is the manner and the demeanor with which a 'regenerate' person in Christ describes it, or talks about his/her faith, or acts in the assembly. This is what can be very difficult in prison ministries. There are some who will make a lot of noise and try to use the chaplain, or the prison ministry team, to find a way to avoid being assigned to punitive details, or further restricted in their already restricted arena. There is no set way to identify such a person save constant contact and evaluation. One of the most 'obvious' "Christians" I ever knew made it his business to attend every funeral in a nearby town - and stood outside and passed out cards to his car dealership to those leaving the funeral. To me, that is not a positive sign that a person is 'saved' any more than getting thrown out of a saloon on Saturday night and then sitting sanctimoniously in service the next day, or being on every committee in the congregation, and having an affair at the same time.

    There is always this:

    That gives even ministers pause... And for good reason. You don't fool the BOSS!
     
  4. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Does it pacify enough prisoners that it counts as an apparatus?

    In fact, when compared to the way Christianity is used in the rest of the country, from politics to product sales, I'd say one of the places its least like an apparatus is when its used in the prison system.
     
  5. Da 'Fins

    Da 'Fins Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    I think anyone can be motivated by the wrong things to convert. No one really knows what is in another's heart (except in a few people they know really, really well but even then there is still a question ... only the Lord knows the heart fully). And this sword cuts both ways (one may deter men a person to be sincere who is not; another may determine a person questionable in their love or sincerity and be wrong as well - only the Lord can really judge these matters).

    With that understanding, I think prison ministries really can help people. Sure some will not be sincere but others can benefit who've perhaps never really investigated.

    I have a friend who is deeply involved in it. He does a great work. He's built half-way houses and helped people get jobs and become good citizens on the outside of the prison walls - as well as committed Christians. Their lives have been turned around for good. Even if there are phonies and frauds (as there are in every church, let alone prison) there are going to be those who have their world changed for the good.

    (the state of Florida releases people from the penitentiary with basically $100 and they are on their own. Of course, that's part of the price they pay; but, it's not going to help really rehabilitate some of those guys).

    It's the same as Christ coming to us - there was no guarantee humanity would respond (and many respond in a fake way; others turn away entirely). But, he still came.
     
  6. Scrap

    Scrap Active Member

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    I'm sure some get their church time in for the right reasons. That should make it worth it, despite the actual numbers who are legit in their motives.
     
  7. MikeHoncho

    MikeHoncho -=| Censored |=- Club Member

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    IMO in addition to what padre said...

    Pros:

    May bring inner peace, and self-reflection/self-awareness to someone who otherwise may lack these things. It's certainly a different way to help an inmate grasp the weight of consequences. There's also the factor of hope and its effects.

    Cons:

    May also be reinforcing the idea that you should/shouldn't do things because they are written in a book, as opposed to consequences or inherent goodwill. (ie. Don't kill because it's bad to take someone's life, as opposed to "because God said not to–though there are some loopholes in the very same book")
     
  8. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    Very legitimate.

    Whether inside or outside of prison you can't initially be certain of people's motives, however the Gospel command is to preach the Gospel to all the world and care for those in need and the Scriptural analogy is to sow the seed no matter the type of ground on which it may fall.

    The Gospel is an offer, it is the ministry of reconciliation between God and man, it isn't a rehab program. For all people, everywhere, it is an invitation to the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to know God and share in His life. It's an offer that should be presented everywhere even though one can never know who will respond, or how. The Gospel isn't about success rates. It's about the sharing of God's truth to all, and the results are in God's hands. All of this applies to anyone and everyone.

    As for prison ministry there are typically two main types. Those who visit the prison to server and chaplains whose regular work and service is based there. Both require a good level of commitment and and humility. Those in prison often believe the world looks down on them. They may also feel as though they've blown it and their life is done, ruined. The message and reality of God's love, shown through the love of those who commit to know those prisoners, is a light in a dark, dark place.

    Christians should never stop visiting the sick, elderly, or those in prison, because they are often forgotten in society, and the love of Christ does not forget. Christ's love, demonstrated in great sacrifice, was to all people, in all situations. Even thieves in the process of undergoing the death penalty.
     
  9. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    The Lord is a very resourceful character. Don't put anything past Him. He uses even the hypocrisy of criminals to get His message out, and a lot of people hear it who wouldn't otherwise have heard it. Some accept it then and there; for others it takes time. But people do get saved as a result.
     
  10. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    As a Lutheran Christian, I use different language than "being saved" though I understand what you are driving at.

    As a seminarian we used to send a team into the state prison in Columbia, SC to play softball against the cons. (You did not argue calls in there, it was their umpires!) As a parish pastor, I have visited a number of parishioners and even one fellow pastor behind bars. I have continued correspondence with others who have been incarcerated long-term. It is a difficult ministry but a vital one. There are hate groups in prisons and religious groups which seek to radicalize individuals. I believe firmly that genuine Christian teaching is something the inmates need to hear. Reconciliation, forgiveness, acceptance of responsibility for self and one's actions are at the core of authentic Christianity and thus , I believe, are things everyone needs to hear, especially inmates.

    Thanks for bumping this thread.
     

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