Scott’s Blog – 1/20/09
What Do We Do Now?
How about what this man did?
If you have been following the news, you know there has been an alleged firestorm of controversy surrounding the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration of our 44th president Barack Obama.
“Alleged” in the sense that outside of media centers looking to fill their next 24 hour news cycle and the overactive sensitivities of a few small but loud pressure groups, an overwhelming amount of Americans saw no problem here at all.
Some 91% of a Gallup survey had no problem at all with Warren’s presence on the dais.
But both the talking heads and the perpetually aggrieved did their best to ratchet up the pressure.
So how did Warren do?
We’ve come to a weird place where reviews are being offered on public prayers.
Commentators have focused on his careful inclusion of phrases designed to offer a benedictory hat tip to Judaism (“Hear O, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” Deuteronomy 6:4), Islam (“And you are the compassionate and merciful one” – the beginning address of virtually every Muslim prayer) “And You are loving to everyone You have made” – certainly a reference to John 3:16.
But as they say in gymnastics, “Yes, but did he stick the landing?”
Lisa Miller of Newsweek offers this interesting assessment.
Finally Warren made the move that was both inevitable and surprising. He prayed in Jesus’ name. Pastors at previous inaugurations have triggered controversy and lawsuits for explicitly Christian prayers, and pundits wondered aloud whether—given the tsunami of press that preceded this prayer—Warren would dare to stake out this turf. But Warren knows who he is. He is a conservative evangelical. There’s nothing else for him to do. Once again, his phrasing was deft: he invoked Jesus for himself, not for the millions on the mall or the billions watching on television. “I humbly ask this,” he said, “in the name of the one who changed my life…Jesus.” A good job, and yet the lingering question remains. Warren’s conservative theology teaches him that there is one path to God, and that is Jesus. So when he wraps his great big arms around Muslims and Jews (and homosexuals), does he really believe there’s hope for us? Or is he just being nice?
I would suggest this was a “good job” on two levels.
First, it gave non believers something to think about.
There is no doubt that Rick Warren really believes there is hope for the non Christian.
Let’s pray that even through this prayer some will be lead to find the Jesus Who can change their lives as well.
Secondly, whether you support Barack Obama, or voted for the other guy, whether you have hope in change, or hope the new administration doesn’t drastically change things, God’s instructions for us are simple and clear.
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (I Timothy 2:1-4)
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