Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The tale of two inaugural prayers by Robinson and Warren -- they were worlds apart.

The inaugural prayers delivered by Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson and evangelical pastor Rick Warren couldn't have been more different. They highlight the gulf between evangelicals, orthodox Christians of all strips and the liberal wing of mainline protestantism which is spinning off into the orbit of universalism.

Robinson prayed at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18; an invitation extended, I suspect, in response to homosexual outrage over the invitation of evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inaugural ceremony on the 20th.

Their prayers highlight two irreconcilable two worldviews. If nothing else it highlights why religious liberals like Robinson confuse the uninformed about what Christianity actually is.

Robinson begins with "O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will …" What is that? For Christians, God isn't a figment of our imaginations or understandings. He has clearly revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures. There aren't multiple God's. There is the one God who reveals Himself in the persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Robinson then, typically delivers a political exposition in the form a prayer:
"Bless us with tears — for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
"Bless us with anger — at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

"Bless us with discomfort — at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

"Bless us with patience — and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

"Bless us with humility — open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

"Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance — replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger..."
He couldn't help but inject the homosexual controversy into his remarks.

Warren on the other hand delivered a prayer consonant with Christian sensibilities found in past national prayer proclamations and statements.

He prayed to God as Father and acknowledges He is supreme and sovereign, merciful and loving, and just.

Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory.

History is your story. The Scripture tells us, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

He draws on the need for individual and corporate forgiveness and our ultimate accountability to God.

Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

And Warren closes praying as Jesus taught Christians to pray -- in the name of Jesus and according to the Lord's prayer.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

Robinson's prayer exemplifies the confusion among people who claim to be Christian but really don't believe it anymore.

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