Inaugural Prayers of Hope and Tears
Around the Christian blogosphere today, there's a lot of comparison between the inaugural prayers of Gene Robinson and Rick Warren. (Few religious bloggers seem to be commenting on Joseph Lowery's benediction.)
It should be no surprise that Robinson's prayer has been widely panned. Al Mohler went so far as to call it idolatrous. "Representation is undoubtedly symbolic, but Rick Warren and Gene Robinson represent radically divergent worldviews and incommensurate goals," the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president wrote. "They are not two very different representatives of one religion. They are instead two very symbolic representatives of two very different religions." (Mohler has also posted a prayer for President Obama.)
Fleming Rutledge, the first woman ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church, apparently agrees. "The basic problem with Bishop Gene Robinson is not that he is openly and actively homosexual. The real problem is that he does not believe Christianity is a universal faith, nor does he believe that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures have a universal message," she wrote after Robinson previewed his prayer in a New York Times interview. " For a Bishop of the Christian Church to say (aggressively) that he is shocked by Christian prayers offered at past inaugurations and that he will not offer a Christian prayer suggests that he does not really believe that the Christian gospel is truly universal (I do not use that wimpy word 'inclusive')."
But Minneapolis pastor John Piper says Robinson's homosexuality is certainly a basic problem (though one imagines he would agree with Rutledge's critique as well). Piper is critical enough of Robinson, but says President Obama made a grave error in inviting Robinson to give an invocation:
This is tragic not mainly because Obama is willing to hold up the legitimacy of homosexual intercourse, but because he is willing to get behind the church endorsement of sexual intercourse between men. It is one thing to say: Two men may legally have sex. It is another to say: The Christian church acted acceptably in blessing Robinson's sex with men.
The implications of this are serious. It means that Barack Obama is willing, not just to tolerate, but to feature a person and a viewpoint that makes the church a minister of damnation. Again, the tragedy here is not that many people in public life hold views (like atheism) that lead to damnation, but that Obama is making the church the minister of damnation. … [T]o bless people in these sins, instead of offering them forgiveness and deliverance from them, is to minister damnation to them, not salvation.
Michael Spencer (a blogger often known as the Internet Monk) says pretty much everything you need to know about what's going on within Christianity is exemplified by the differences between Robinson's prayers and Warren's.
"You can't talk reasonably and genuinely about a God of many understandings," Spencer wrote of Robinson's invocation. "Not with actual believers in Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, and Buddah [sic] around. You might as well pray to the cat. (It probably would be better to pray to the cat.)" As for Warren, "Evangelicalism, for all its problems, and all its Warren-influenced struggles with relevance, still has something powerful to say to the world about God, and about the one through whom we know who is the God we are talking about."
Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll praised Warren for doing exactly what Paul commanded Timothy. ("First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior" 1 Tim. 2:1-3.)