A Judicious Temperament

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I was in wait-and-see mode on Rick Warren praying at the inauguration. My initial reaction was uh oh, but being as judicious and thoughtful as I am, I thought I would wait and see what he actually said in his prayer. The upshot is that I was fully prepared to praise him for participating in the inauguration, and for the content of his prayer, provided the entire nation was furious with him afterwards for his evangelical disruption of the national schmoozefest. So if he played a strong Micaiah to Ahab, I was prepared to rally to Warren’s side. But I was also prepared to analyze his prayer with repeated blows with a canoe paddle if it was any of that “bring us all together” crap. As I say, a judicious temperament here, upon which many have commented.

But then, Obama asked Gene Robinson, an episcopal poofter of some note, to say another prayer somewhere else in the inaugural festivities. Robinson had been angry at Warren’s invitation, calling it a “slap in the face,” and now today, according to the Washington Post, Warren issued a statement on the selection of Robinson to pray, saying that Obama “has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground. I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen.” HT: Tim Bayly

Now I know what Warren thinks he is doing. He thinks he is showing up Robinson’s small-mindedness, and demonstrating how genuine tolerance is supposed to work. “We evangelicals are more broadminded than you homo-activists are.” And that is ironically correct — homosexual activists usually do have a better grasp of the antithesis than the evangelicals do, and they usually fight with a clearer vision of what things are incompatible. Think of it as epistemological interior decorating — a worldview version of queer eye for the straight guy. “No, no, no, no. Those don’t go together!”

So what Warren is actually doing is giving away the store. Why search for common ground when there isn’t any? Warren used a number of words in those sentences that are religiously defined, which means that when we are appealing to different gods, we cannot have a shared view of what “genuine” means, what “commitment” means, what “goodwill” means, and what “common ground” means. That is right on the surface. We are also likely to have trouble with “has,” “again,” “his,” “be,” and “the.”

The issue is not whether Obama needs to be the president of every citizen. Of course he does. That would be true if we ever had a godly and wise president. He would also have to the president of every citizen too, including the homosexuals. But that is not the issue. The issue is whether it is right for evangelicals to approve of the president-elect’s actions as he solicits the high profile support of the Bishop of Sodom in order to give his administration a secular and relativistic legitimacy. The fact that Obama is making a play to include the evangelicals in this toxic mix only makes the relativism more potent, not less. As I have noted before, we are getting our place at the table, but why should we want it? What’s for dinner? Who’s the cook? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a place at the table too — and they refused it. And they were given a much greater authority within Babylon precisely because they refused the approved Babylonian way of getting there (Dan. 2:49).

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