21 January 2009

Short and Sweet

by Frank Turk



Because I think there is a certain degree of crassness involved in doing the post-game wrap up on someone's prayer (because all prayers we make are defective, and are thereby interpreted by the Holy Spirit to the Father into something more sublime, a la Rom 8), let me only say this about the much-discussed prayer by Rick Warren at the inauguration yesterday:

It started out OK, ended on a classic note, and caused me to ask a single question in the middle.

The single question is this: is it a legitimate thing to pray to God that we as a nation be united by anything other than the cross of Christ (a la Eph 2)? It's legitimate and totally understandable to recognize that we are when we think about the things of this world. But when we pray to God, who uniquely reveals Himself in Christ, and by whom enmity between God and man and between the various superficially-different types of men is taken away and knocked down, should we pray that the unity of our nation be based on a merely-temporal civic good?

I don't know. I'd be willing to hear the reasonable exhortations of anyone who thinks "yes", as well as what often happens in the meta.

Play on.







120 comments:

JackW said...

"should we pray that the unity of our nation be based on a merely-temporal civic good?

You mean like those people that built that tower a long time ago?

Rick Frueh said...

Praying for unity usually translate into working together for financial prosperity. We as Christians should not find political unity in any of it, while remaing humble and gracious.

Rick Warren's prayer was benign and ceremonial, although he did use the name of Jesus and a small personal testimony.

Asking God's blessing on America is not unlike being asked to pray God's blessing at a grand opening of a tavern or a strip club or an abortion clinic. When the heathen feel comfortable in the midst of a prayer we have done them an eternal disservice and have revealed the absence of the Spirit.

God isn't interested in America, He's seeking Americans.

DJP said...

When did that change, then, Rick? Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh did both: He constantly and repeatedly dealt with nations qua nations, and also dealt with individuals from within those nations.

But you figure He completely changed, lost all interest in nations per se? When do you think that happened?

Johnny Dialectic said...

I believe in the "civic religion" of America. It came from the soil of the Bible (as all but the most jaundiced historians must admit). Too, I believe that there is positive good that comes from unity in this regard, and that as Christians we have an obligation to that ideal, though not ulitmate allegiance. Thus, I was pleased with Rick Warren's prayer.

Al Mohler put it this way on his blog:

"Christians are, first of all, citizens of a heavenly kingdom. The followers of Christ know no allegiance of ultimate rank to any government or earthly authority. Yet, the Bible clearly teaches that God has given us the gifts of law, government, and ruling authorities for our good. We are instructed to pray for "rulers and all who have authority" and to be faithful in praying "so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God" [1 Timothy 2:2]."

Aaron said...

I didnt care for Warren's prayer my Pastor thought it was o.k. all things considered. I really think unity is importent not everyone in this country is a Christian nore where we founded as a specficlly Christian nation. The Kingdom of The World cant have anything to do with The Kingdom of God when where voteing it's importent to remember when where voteing it's about electing a person that is the best person for the job not nescerlly a church deacon. I think a better word would be tolernce instead of unity the Christian can learn to tolerate his nonbelieveing neighbors.

Rick Frueh said...

At the cross. My perspective is that the word nation (ethnos) represents people groups, which in the Old Testament were to a large extent divided by countries. The Philistines, Syrians, Babylonians, etc. were nations compromised basically of one tribe or ethnic group.

Today God seeks sinners which comprise all nations (ethnic groups). Beside Israel, I contend God deals with mankind and not the interaction between nations and the interactions within each nation. Of course He incorporates everything within His sovereign will, but God deals specifically with His church and each individual believe.

No where in the New Testament are we instructed to view the world through nationalistic prisms. I feel personally that the inauguration that took place yesterday had no eternal nor spiritual significance whatsoever, except to showcase man's idolatry of man and the continuing rejection of God's Risen Christ.

One man's opinion without tears.

Al said...

There was a moment in Warren's prayer when the crowed cheered. It was when he mentioned that we were at a hinge point of history, electing our first "African-American" president. And I think that shows the problem of praying to the crowd as audience.

I am sure that Pastor Warren wants us to be united, unfortunately his plea was for the Law to come and rule over us. There is a certain unity that comes from such an approach, but it is never lasting nor effectual in producing righteousness.

As for God loving Nations as Nations I think He loves one nation now and it is made up of a royal priesthood.

al sends

Frank Turk said...

Jack W:

Yes and no. Honestly -- we are somewhat stupid to ignore that there is something other than Christ which, in the temporal or civic sense, allows us to live in a society with a multitude of religions in the field of play.

And it's not wrong to pray that a secular government be a just government -- Paul says we should do that over and over, and Pastor Warren's prayer was, in some sense, an appeal that the laws we have be the laws we keep. Civic freedom is one of the purpoes of the constitution.

But in prayer, we are asking God for something in the name of Jesus -- "in the name of Jesus" meaning not the transliteration of Yeshua to Jesus, but by the power, reputation, and authority of the one who died and rose again from the dead -- and it seems to me to ask God to let something else be for our nation what Jesus ought to be for each person ...

... I'm still rubbing my head.

Frank Turk said...

Rick --

I think I know what you're trying to say, but I think you are missing the mark by enough to reconsider how you are saying it.

I think (big surprise) that DJP is right, and God cares about our nation -- and all nations. He raises them up, after all. He does.

But think on it: Paul told the churches in his day that we should pray for our rulers in order that we can live a quiet life and do the Gospel work. In his day, that meant all the officials who served the Roman Emperor, who was by law a god.

We are bad, and in this election cycle we may actually be that bad (Doug Wilson has a coupla posts on this which are worth reading), but that doesn't mean we get the chance now to reinterpret what St. Paul Really Said.

I think we are in our right spiritual minds to want to pray for our leaders -- even to publicly pray for them. But we shouldn't pray for what they want. We should pray for what they ought to be -- that is, what God calls them to be.

Epistemologically, Ontologically, Spiritually and Grammatically, that's going to make certain kinds of prayers. I am pondering whether Rick Warren's pray was that kind of prayer.

I am still on the fence.

Beth said...

Ummm…as far as I can see parts of Rick Warren’s prayer were not doctrinally sound as it relates to our Lord and Savior. Jesus was an “add in” to Rick’s prayer. Jesus was kind of "sprinkled" around. Forget about what Rick left out…why not look at what he actually said? Is this really the prayer he would have prayed in secret to the Father? If not…he was gave a speech/sermon to a god of the audience’s many understandings. If Rick wanted to be crystal clear what God he was praying to he could have…but it seems he went out of his way to be ambiguous enough to not offend anyone and be inclusive of everyones religion. At the very least I would have liked to have seen “America’s Pastor” be sound in his doctrine in front of the whole world. We worship a triune God.

Here’s what he could have added (my comments in CAPS) so that no one would be in doubt as to which God he was praying to…(this is not meant to be inclusive :-))

“Let us pray. Almighty God, our Father, (THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB WHO SENT YOUR SON JESUS TO BE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD / OR WHO HAS SPOKEN TO US THESE DAYS BY YOUR SON JESUS) everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. (ALL THINGS WERE CREATED THROUGH JESUS ; Col 1:15-16) 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. (“THE LORD, THE LORD GOD, MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS, LONGSUFFERING, AND ABOUNDING IN GOODNESS AND TRUTH, KEEPING MERCY FOR THOUSANDS, FORGIVING INIQUITY AND TRANSGRESSION AND SIN, BY NO MEANS CLEARING THE GUILTY, VISITING THE INIQUITY OF THE FATHERS UPON THE CHILDREN AND THE CHILDREN’S CHILDREN TO THE THIRD AND THE FOURTH GENERATION.” EXODUS 34:6-7 )

“And you are loving to everyone you have made.” ( I WILL BE GRACIOUS TO WHOM I WILL BE GRACIOUS, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I WILL HAVE COMPASSION.” EXODUS 33:19)

And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.(I SAY TO YOU THAT LIKEWISE THERE WILL BE MORE JOY IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER WHO REPENTS THAN OVER NINETY-NINE JUST PERSONS WHO NEED NO REPENTANCE. LUKE 15:7)

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. (MAY WE REPENT AND TURN TO YOU AND YOUR COMMANDMENTS ONCE AGAIN) “When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. (MAY WE REPENT AND TURN TO YOU AND YOUR COMMANDMENTS ONCE AGAIN) When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. (MAY WE REPENT AND TURN TO YOU AND YOUR COMMANDMENTS ONCE AGAIN)

“And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. (“AND MAY WE NEVER FORGET THAT ONE DAY ALL NATIONS AND ALL PEOPLE WILL STAND ACCOUNTABLE BEFORE YOUR SON FOR YOU HAVE COMMITTED ALL JUDGMENT TO HIM, FOR WE WILL L GIVE AN ACCOUNT TO HIM WHO IS READY TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD. JOHN 5:22 ;1 PETER 4:4-5)

Hayden said...

Rick,

What do you see in Revelation 5 if there are no 'nations'?

Rick Frueh said...

Frank - thank you for your thoughtful interaction. America is a pluralistic collection of people, bound together by law and citizenship. I guess God cares about everything, my point is God doesn't deal with America as a nation, He deals with His people who live inside America.

I do believe in this age of the gospel that the ministry of the Spirit is distinctly redemptive and without any nationalistic underpinnings. If we assume an American view of anything, we are by definition at odds with believers in other countries.

I am not cotending that God does not use and incorporate the world's interection into His own sovereign plan, but God does not legitimize the idolatrous melting pot called America by dealing with it as a specific entity capable of listening to His voice.

There are only one set of people capable of hearing God's voice, the church, and we are sometimes quite unwilling to be faithful in that privileged grace.

Johnny Dialectic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Frueh said...

Hayden - I believe the word in revelations 5 is "ethnos" from which we derive ethnic. I believe it refers to people groups rather than specific countries.

Frank Turk said...

Beth:

So Jesus, when he taught us to pray merely "our Father", was handing us a substandard model? I think your view of what robust prayer looks like is, at least, immature.

That's not an endorsement of Pastor Warren's prayer, OK? My concerns are still what they are -- not by what he omitted but by what he felt compelled to include. But your concerns, as you have stated them, seem to me to be worried that unless he closed every theological eye and hook, he was walking around with his theological britches open when in fact he merely did not close the buttons on his overcoat.

One man's opinion: think about stuff like this a little more systematically rather than mechanically.

Johnny Dialectic said...

It strikes me that criticisms of Warren's prayer for not being strong enough could be applied to Paul's address on Mars Hill.

When you look at it, Paul's address was an INVITATION to hear more (which, indeed, is what happened...some wanted to hear more, and some, as a result, became followers of Christ).

Warren's prayer struck this note, IMO. Paul mentioned repentance, and Warren alluded to acts that would need forgiveness, and also to every person's accountability to God one day.

And when he mentioned Jesus as "the one who changed my life," he gave a testimony to a billion people, and an invitation to hear more.

Because he was gracious and conscious of the cultural moment, he used it as Paul used the Athenian moment.

Warren was not invited to give a sermon. He was under incredible pressure to "get it right" and be a representative of Bible believing Christians on the biggest stage in the world. He was being told by some not to go because Obama is pro-choice. He was being shouted at by the other side because he was for Prop. 8. The easiest thing for him to have done was stay home.

Instead, he crafted a prayer that, IMO, hit the right notes. And I do believe there will be those who want to "hear more" because of this prayer.

Rick Frueh said...

Remember this, the writer of Hebrews tells us that spiritual "bastards" (illegitimate), unregenerate sinners, do not receive the chastening of God. So why would God chasten a nation compromised overwhelmingly of unbelievers?

Those who are His children, those He loves as children, He corrects. The rest He draws to adoption through the gospel but until they become His children He will not address them as children or correct them as His own.

Frank Turk said...

Rick --

I'm not sure you're entirely right, dude.

There is no question that God speaks to all people from the church because the church proclaims Scripture, amen? But your idea that somehow governments are inconsequential seems to me to ignore a lot of stuff in the NT, let alone almost all of the OT.

One thing we need to keep in mind is that when Rick Warren (or Dan Phillips, may God be willing) prays during a government ceremony, he is doing something different than praying before the church.

A benediction is different than other prayers common in a church service. And what Rick Warren was doing was to pray a blessing on our new leader.

It is not wrong to pray that God bless Barack Obama. It is wrong, I think, to pray to God the He take President Obama's side in all issues rather than call President Obama to His side in all issues.

Do you see that difference?

Kitch said...

"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." (Acts 17:26)

Sounds like Paul, speaking to the pagans in Athens, had a sense of God's sovereign involvement in the nations. The word is ethnos, but it seems Paul defines it as having existence at certain specific times and in certain specific geographical locations.

David Milton said...

Frank, as for ME, I personally see the difference. As for ME. Subtle point that what irritated me most about Warren's prayer was that he emphasized the "MY" in "the one who changed MY life." The implication is clear - and intentional. If Allah has changed your life...If Buddha has changed your life...well swell. But as for ME, Jesus was the one. Subjectivized Jesus. Is this not a Christian pastor charged with a holy calling to declare Christ as the authority and Lord of all? Rhetorical.

Mr. Dialectic: "acts that would need forgiveness" simply emboldens sinners to think they're doing the best they can. God will forgive them. Why don't we all need forgiveness? Sure. Now get the stem-cell research going and get science in its rightful place again.

Libbie said...

I've been pondering this. the prayer was meh. It was carefully crafted not to offend, and that's not a surprise.

But with regards to the question, Frank, I think it's legitimate to pray that the civic government, and thus the nation, be a peaceful orderly place, with whatever unity that implies. I don't think we can do that in isolation, but in and of itself, I think it's a good prayer.

My main problem with Warren's prayer, acknowledging your acknowledgement about critiquing prayers, is the suggestion that the great crowd of witnesses in heaven cheers about temporal events which have absolutely nothing to do with the gospel, and could arguably be quite a lot to do with ungodliness.

DJP said...

...It was carefully crafted not to offend...

To me, that's totally true, and pretty damning.

Zac said...

Sorry this seems to be off topic a bit, but is no one talking about the fact that Rick used the name of "Isa" when using the different names of our Lord? Isa is not Jesus. He is the false muslim Jesus. Isa is an idol. Am I wrong?

Rick Frueh said...

Kitch - I agree, however I contend God is addressing the "men" from all ethnicities and not the governments of specific countries.

When, for instance, the gospels and Acts use the term country as in "country of the Gadarenes" or "a far country" or "all the countries of Galatia and Phyrgia" the Greek is a different word.

So I contend that the woprd nation applies not to countries but to people groups while the word for country means the organized and geographical country itself.

It is an interesting subject, no?

Beth said...

Frank,

With all due respect....I’m going to hold you to your own standard. I didn’t say anything about the Lord’s prayer. If you want to correct me…correct me on the points I brought out and if I am wrong on what I said I will retract my statements. I am talking about what Rick Warren said in this instance…I'm not talking about what every prayer ever offered up to God should look like.

Frank…was everything created by God alone? …will we stand before God to give an account? No I don’t believe Rick has to close every eye and hook…I’m saying that he should be doctrinally sound. Was what he said correct in the light of scripture? These are points that even an “immature” believer such as I understand.

There is no forgiveness found outside of the cross of Christ. Rick,is supposed to be a slave of Christ. There is no coming to God other than through His Son.

Since when did holding a pastor to quoting scripture correctly become "closing every theological eye and hook"?

And lastly, I didnt' think about this mechanically Frank...my spirit is provoked when my Lord and Savior has to take a back seat in a prayer to His Father.

Just my opinion...

DJP said...

Zac, that was my first reaction, but I think it's just the Arabic way of saying Jesus, and no more expressly Islamic than his saying "Hay-zeus" was Roman Catholic.

Libbie said...

yes, Dan, I agree. Lukewarm is how I described it to someone else.

I also think the idea that we can't legitimately criticize the prayer only has a limited application, because anyone who truly believes that Warren's prayer was only a private conversation between him and the Lord is stunningly naive. If he decided to pray without preparation, the caution might have more weight. But that is clearly not the case.

He was leading people in prayer. And, imo, he mostly led them down a comfy little cul-de-sac of warm fuzzies, (with the notable and laudable exception of reminding them they would be standing before Him at the end of all things).

I presume those sniffing the loudest about some of the words of disappointment from Christians about it, are equally disapproving about people criticizing the deeply unpleasant offering by the man who only qualifies for leadership in a 'church' that has completely rejected the scriptures.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

America needs to pray that she will be on God's side, not God on her side. Her national sins of abortion and homosexualism, call out for judgment. Our land needs to repent of her sins and her spiritual fornication.

Warren was asking God to overlook sin and blless us, which will never happen. Sin must be dealt with either in JJesus's atonement, or in judgmment.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz

andrewdotnich said...

Some late-night thoughts from Australia, for what they're worth:

Regarding the question, it seems to me that insofar as the "merely-temporal civic good" is a by-product of laws and governance that are solidly grounded in a Christian worldview, then praying for the continuation of such civic good is fine (provided, of course, that one does not forget the source of such good!)

Agree that the prayer was written to be inoffensive, and that annoyed me. I do agree with Al Mohler and Mark Driscoll's mention of 1 Timothy 2, as well.

Frank Turk said...

Beth --

The point you were making is that the model of prayer one ought to use is one which has a lot of, um, words from the Bible in it. The example of prayer Jesus gives us is a prayer which doesn't have any of those words.

So my point was not that you were talking about the Lord's Prayer: it is that you ought to have been talking about the Lord's Prayer -- which, btw, Rick Warren prayed.

My standard is "pray like Jesus told us to pray" -- a standard which I think Rick Warren met in about 1/3rd of his prayer, approached in some way in 1/3rd of his prayer, and lost track of in 1/3rd of his prayer. It's a standard I think you have lost sight of.

You can hold me to that if you like.

Deb_B said...

"I am still on the fence."

Which is where it appeared to me Rick Warren was, at least somewhat, attempting to tightrope yesterday.

I'm still pondering it over, but leaning more toward Dan's assessment.

Frank Turk said...

Libbie --

Your thoughts here are the reasons I posted this post at all. He was leading prayer, making a benediction.

The question at that point is only if he was seeking God's blessing on the leader and the assembly, or was he merely making his own blessing on all present.

God forbid that any of us would see our blessing as something on-par --or even a fair substitute -- with the blessing of God.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Memo to Paul: Your closing here was not doctrinally sound. Why didn't you mention the name "Jesus"? Were you trying not to offend? I'm sorry, but your address was just warm fuzzies.

Frank Turk said...

Deb --

That's what I am saying, I think. I can't think of any prayers I have made in the last 10 years in which anyone would think I was on the fence about who I was talking to or what I was asking him for.

By the middle of the prayer, I thought Pastor Warren had stopped talking to God for a little bit.

Frank Turk said...

Johnny D --

Paul wasn't praying. He was evangelizing.

Wow, is this going to far afield before we close the comments today.

DJP said...

Deb_BI'm ...leaning more toward Dan's assessment

Me too!

Pamela said...

I listened rather disinterestedly to Rick Warren's invocation until he prayed in the name of Isa. Then I audibly gasped. Isa is the Muslim version of Jesus who was not crucified to atone for sin and reconcile us to God, nor was he raised to life in victory over death.

I later learned that not only did he pray in the name of Isa, he also incorporated language of the Qur'an into his prayer: "You are the compassionate and merciful one". This phrase opens every chapter in the Qur'an except one; it's a phrase that would immediately be recognizable to a Muslim.

Clearly Mr. Warren intended for non-Christian religious people to read their faith into his prayer, to be inclusive.

Is this spiritually and theologically acceptable? I don't see how it could be. We listened to Mr. Warren offer one prayer for more than one god, whether or not he understands it that way. We heard God's attributes ascribed to a competing and false god, which makes that part of his prayer a lie. And we witnessed Mr. Warren praying in the name of one who theologically isn't Jesus.

I am deeply troubled by this.

The pressure had been on Mr. Warren to provide an inclusive prayer. He did that, and in a very politically clever way. (But now I'm even more puzzled by his statement that God is loving to everyone He has made. Is there anyone He hasn't made? I may need to study a few more world religions to find out why this statement was in there. 8| )

Because the prayer was written to be so inclusive of religions, it was a little weird that out of the blue he also prayed in the Spanish name of Jesús. What, do Spanish-speaking people have a different Christianity than English-speaking people? (Some assuredly do, but that's beside the point.)

So maybe Mr. Warren was trying to unite the language groups of the USA, and the reason he included Isa was to engage the Arabic speakers? No, for then he surely would have included the Chinese rendering of Jesus or renderings from any of the other 11 languages that are more populously represented than Arabic, including French, German, Tagalog, and Russian, to name a few.

Besides, Arabic Christians use a different rendering of Jesus: Yasu.

Was he trying to reach out to the Muslims, sort of a pre-evangelism exercise? Not likely. Here's why I doubt it:

from the Washington Post online, Jan. 14, 2009:

Today, Warren issued a statement praising Obama for selecting Robinson [the openly gay Episcopalian bishop to give the invocation at an afternoon inaugural concert], saying the president-elect "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."

Common ground. President of every citizen. This seems to be an insight into his own approach to the inaugural invocation. Many gods, one prayer.

"For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God."

SolaMommy said...

Was MLK a believer?

The Rios' said...

Did anyone catch that Warren quoted from Isalm's Quran in his prayer when he said, "You are the compassionate and merciful one." This phrase is found at the beginning of most if not all of the chapters in the Quran.

DJP said...

Pamela, when/if I unload all my thoughts about Warren's prayer, they won't be largely complimentary.

But the Bible does also call God "compassionate and merciful" (e.g. James 5:11), and those are, I think, merely Jesus' pronounced in other languages.

I think there's a point to your criticisms. But I wouldn't go too far. He may have, at worst, been trying to show how "cool" he was in "contextualizing" for all those groups. I do get the impression that being liked and admired is a big thing to Warren.

Frank Turk said...

"You are the compassionate and merciful one."

This is undoubtedly a phrase from the Q'uran.

Is it a false statement about God?

Pamela said...

Yes, I completely agree that God is merciful and compassionate. Wow. How could I not?

But if Muslims were to be praying that same prayer, and that's what I believe Rick wanted everyone to think, then they would be praying to Allah. Allah is not compassionate and merciful; to say so would be a lie.

Pamela said...

It is a false statement about Allah. Muslims pray to Allah.

DJP said...

So, to rattle on a little bit more, it would be like my praying before a bunch of JW's and Mormons, and addressing my prayer to "Jehovah, the Heavenly Father," with sort of a wink to those groups.

At worse, the address would be incorrect ("Jehovah" being an impossible pronunciation of YHWH), but it wouldn't be in itself false teaching. But what would my point be? Is there any chance it'd make the respective groups think, "Oh my carbuncles, he knows the right address! The Trinity must be true! / Polytheism must be a lie!"?

Wouldn't it more likely create the impression that I'm winking at them and saying we worship the same God?

Which we don't?

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Frank, I know that John Calvin "and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven" at your question. Achem.

Terry Rayburn said...

1. In a discussion like this, I would recommend two things:

a. Reality. The Obama people aren't totally unwise in the ways of the world. They aren't going to call on Fred Phelps (I can't bring myself to call him Rev.)to do the prayer. They're going to call on someone they know from experience will not intentionally offend.

b. Sola Scriptura. For example, is there any indication in Scripture that a public prayer must offend? If not, then why criticize a prayer because it's not offensive?

Or to put it another way, if you personally would pray only an offensive prayer, it's likely you would never have the opportunity (except in your closet).

2. Not everyone is called to the same personality traits in prayer or preaching.

Daniel the Prophet -- not DJP...the other one -- is a pretty good example of steel spine and velvet-gloved attitude combined.

John the Baptist was utterly lacking the velvet-gloved part.

Barnabas leaned pretty far over to the velvet-gloved side.

Paul was somewhere in between.

3. As to whether God cares about nations, I think a little logic applied to God's sovereign hand in creation would indicate that He is intensely interested in all of his creation. From the wildflower in a Yukon field that no one will ever see, to the USA and Micronesia.

Of course He's not bound like we are with mental and physical limitations which allow us to only be interested in a few hundred things, usually one at a time.

Nor is He limited to having a single purpose for America. He has millions of purposes per second! Meditating on that should cause praise and awe to spring up in us.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"Paul wasn't praying. He was evangelizing."

Even worse.

And, BTW, Warren was both praying AND evangelizing. That, in fact, is why the prayer was so good.

Frank Turk said...

Terry --

To show exactly how ambivalent and conflicted I am here, I agree with you, too. All my concerns are tempered by the reality that praying for a blessing for our nation is not forbidden by Scripture at all -- it is, in fact, in many ways, commanded by Scripture.

That's why I think it's crass to criticize a prayer: we have to admit Rick Warren wasn't (supposed to be) talking to us, but to God. If a review team was set upo over my prayers, I'll bet they'd be diappointed, too.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

God does not love the nations. He told Israel, when they entered into Canaan, to wipe out all living there.

In Romans 9 He said,''Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

God loves those He chose out of the race, and gave to christ-the world of Jews and Gentiles [John 3;16].

Frank Turk said...

re; DJP --

See: I agree with that, too. The pandering in the prayer bothered me.

So to sum up so far:

[1] The prayer bothered me.

[2] Not because it was a public prayer or because it was asking for a blessing on our nation.

[3] But in fact because it seemed not to be talking to God but to "US", or more properly, to "USA".

[4] In spite of a lot of good form in the text itself, including the prayer model of Jesus.

[5] And not because it "didn't offend" but because it didn't actually pray for a blessing. It prayed like it was a letter to Santa.

That's where I am. Right now.

Terry Rayburn said...

By the way, it's not true that Isa is only the Muslim way to say Jesus in Arabic. There are at least two other ways to say Jesus in Arabic, but Christians do indeed use the "Isa" or "Essah" form.

An example can be seen here.

Many Christians are shocked to find out that when Arabic speaking Muslims get saved, they refer to the true God as Allah!

Pamela said...

I don't know about Rick's inner drive to be cool, but I have read and heard a great deal statements from the secularists pressuring him to be inclusive while evangelicals clambered to know if he would pray in the name of Jesus. And I've read his perspective on the events surrounding this occasion, as I quoted earlier.

He did what was wise in his own eyes. That's human, and it is what it is. But in trying to see it from God's perspective, I find that the reality of the situation, including giving the impression that we worship the same God (ie: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is One"), is more serious than people may want to consider.

As a child I often wondered if a person brought before an idol might be OK to kneel down on the outside, but be standing up on the inside. To be kneeling in his heart before God even as he bends his body before an idol. To internally reinterpret a prayer before the god of stone to be an earnest prayer to the Living God.

Is it acceptable before God for a person to give the impression of invoking a false god as long as his heart is directed in the right direction?

Is this not what happened yesterday?

Beth said...

Johnny..."Memo to Paul: Your closing here was not doctrinally sound. Why didn't you mention the name "Jesus"? Were you trying not to offend? I'm sorry, but your address was just warm fuzzies."

Johnny...apparently you have missed my point as well if your comment was directed towards me. You couldn't possibly be farther from what is in my heart if you tried. I'm merely trying to point out that it is useless in our society who prays to the god of many understandings to offer up prayers without making sure that they understand what God it is you are praying to.

God made sure that is was understood that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...the apostles made sure that everyone knew they were praying to the God of Jesus Christ...whether they referenced His name or His death and resurrection. They made it clear they were not praying to the god their audience was praying to.

That's my point. I'm not set out to just criticize Rick Warren's prayer. I apologize if it looked like I think I know it all. Totally not what I think....it was merely more in the line of "instead of saying this"....it would have been more beneficial to "say this"....

Would it not have been more beneficial to the hearer's to just interject a few more words to make sure there is no confusion?

Frank..."The point you were making is that the model of prayer one ought to use is one which has a lot of, um, words from the Bible in it."

Sorry if I'm not making myself clear, that's not the point I was making. I am not talking about a model of prayer. I interjected the verses simply to contrast what Rick said vs. what scripture says. When I give reasons for what I believe I quote scripture 99% of the time...unless I can't bring to mind the scripture.

Frank...is what Rick Warren said about creation and judgment correct in the context in which he said them..i.e. an address to a pagan society who does not think of God in the context of His Son.

Thanks...

donsands said...

How about this as a prayer:

Our Heavenly Father,

HELP!

I ask this in the name of Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Terry Rayburn said...

Hey, it could have been worse on several levels.

Joel Osteen, "I pray for America's Best Life Now."

Jeremiah Wright, "Not God BLESS America, God..." well, nevermind.

Or even Paul Foltz, "Thank you for hating our nation, Lord." Tongue in cheek, Paul :)

Although I think Luther went too far when he said that God does nothing except in answer to prayer, yet I think "God bless America, Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, and me" is a valid prayer that God is big enough and wise enough to use as He sees fit.

Deb_B said...

"By the middle of the prayer, I thought Pastor Warren had stopped talking to God for a little bit."

Uh-oh, Frank, I knew if I kept reading/tagging along here I'd get myself into trouble at some point.

What I really mean to say is that more often than not during Rick Warren's prayer I kept hearkening back to that double-minded man a plenary inspired James wrote about.

I believe a tightrope act carefully crafted to offend no one in particular is likely not to be much of a "soothing aroma" in the "nostrils" of a holy God ... in fact, I believe it's a stench.

But that's just me. Uh-oh.

Frank Turk said...

Beth:

He said this --

And may we never forget that one day, all nations--and all people--will stand accountable before you.

That is exactly what Paul said to Mars Hill.

It's phrases like that which cause me to not want to cricize Rick Warren too severely.

There are other phrases -- like unity for the sake of freedom -- which make me want to shake him and ask him what exactly he was thinking.

Lee Shelton IV said...

Johnny D., what did Warren's prayer have to do with evangelism? Praying in the name of "the one who changed my life" may sum up the current evangelical view of the gospel, but it is meaningless. At best, he encouraged people to entertain the idea that Jesus might change their lives. So what? A person's life can be "changed" by anything. How does that save? Jesus doesn't merely change lives; he save sinners from the wrath of God. We must repent and put our trust in him.

Frank Turk said...

Deb_B:

I'm glad I didn't ask you, then -- because you have no idea what Rom 8 says about the prayers made by the faithful.

here -- let me show you:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Pesky Scripture: even makes amends for people who don't know how to make a prayer like they should.

Pamela said...

Terry, this isn't an issue of the specific restrictions of language in trying to speak of God.

The inclusivity issue wasn't ever a multi-lingual one. It was: Will Rick Warren represent the whole country in his invocation, or just the Christians? The answer to this question was revealed in the multi-religionist, not multi-lingual, elements found in his prayer.

This issue would have been a very demanding and difficult one for Mr. Warren, and a person would have to look pretty hard for evidence to indicate that he ignored all that and went with the best way he knew how to evangelize the Muslims.

By the way, I'm with Lee: exactly how would this qualify as evangelism?

Frank Turk said...

Pamela --

I have to get back to productive work today at some point, but you reason that unless someone is so clear that they cannot be misunderstood, they haven't really prayed -- especially in a public setting.

I dunno: why should we fuss about "In God We Trust" being printed on our money, or the generic "so help me God" at the end of the President's oath of office? Should we fuss about that?

If so,then I suggest to you that while we have an obligation to glorify God and pray to Him alone, as it says in Romans 8, God knows the hearts of the faithful. He knows to whom we are praying -- and if we are praying to him, who cares what anyone listening thinks when they hear our proverbial coins rattle into the poor box?

We shouldn't be praying in tongues, amen? 1 Cor 14 says we should pray and prophecy in a language the unbeliever can understand. But it doesn't say that we should make sure he knows we don't mean Zeus or Flying Spaghetti Monster: we pray in Jesus' name, and we pray to God.

Again: this should be the chief reason we should have a little personal humility towards criticizing someone else's prayer. That person wasn't talking to us.

Terry Rayburn said...

Pamela,

You wrote, "Isa is the Muslim version of Jesus..."

I was just correcting that error for the record. Not commenting on Warren's inclusiveness.

Frank Turk said...

re: prayer as evaneglism.

Re-read 1 Cor 14 and ask yourself that question again. Paul seems to think that somehow our acts of worship have to be in some way meaningful to any unbeliever listening. It may confuse them, or convict them, but they should be able to grasp what we are saying -- so that they might actually come to faith because of it.

Frank Turk said...

And may the Holy Spirit also protect us from typos. Wow.

Beth said...

Frank..."And may we never forget that one day, all nations--and all people--will stand accountable before you. That is exactly what Paul said to Mars Hill."

Frank...you're killin' me.

What am I missing????

Paul said "Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." That IS NOT what Rick Warren said! I don't care how you spin it.

Besides...at the point Paul delivered the Mars Hill address the Bible says Paul had been reasoning with them for days...preaching to them Jesus and the resurrection. THEN they asked him about the "new doctrine" he was speaking. THEN he delivered that address. The Bible says they thought Paul was a "proclaimer of a foreign god." They said "you are bringing strange things to our ears". No one who heard Paul thought "yep...that's the god I was thinking about".

Paul was addresssing an audience just like our world today. Paul made SURE to wrap it all up in repentance, the coming judgment and Christ's resurrection...

You brought up Mars Hill...not me... :-)

Frank Turk said...

Beth --

Sent you an e-mail via your blogger e-mail. I'll be glad to carry on this conversation with you if you reply to that e-mail.

You can even publish the text of that e-mail right here if you want to. I'd just like to see what you say to that note before we go on.

Deb_B said...

Mmmmm ... that's a real reach to explain away what in its totality was, more often than not, a carefully crafted non-offensive, nebulous Inaugural prayer Warren espoused.

A tightrope-walking, popular pastor who wanted to remain faithful to his calling whilst concurrently crafting a prayer as unoffensive to the masses as possible. He wanted it both ways.

The problems with that are legion.

Okay, so because Rick Warren crafted as non-offensive, hazy and indistinct Inaugural prayer as possible, Romans 8, as you cited it applies? Methinks not. Rick Warren, a pastor of some years now, knows the difference between a straightforward, God-honoring public prayer and a non-offensive, nebulous wattle of whatever with a few Christian bones woven in after he'd flayed all the real meat therefrom ... so as to be ... non-offensive to the masses.

There is irony here, more than you can possibly know since you only know of me what I've posted in my profile, should you choose to peruse it ... but for the moment at least, I'm disinclined to point it out.

RE: Productive work, ditto on this end as well.

Brad Williams said...

I am one of those guys who tries to give folks the benefit of the doubt. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Merciful and Compassionate One. Why, instead of thinking that Pastor Warren is pointing out that the Heavenly Father is the truly merciful and compassionate one, do we assume that he is giving a hat tip to Islam?

If a Muslim prayed, "Allah, your servant Mohammed is the way to the truth and the life" I would certainly not think that he was throwing the Christians a bone to be friendly.

The horror at calling Jesus "Isa" also surprises me. I was under the impression that arabic speaking Christians say Isa, and I am pretty certain that Terry made that point.

And yes, I waited to post after 68 comments to make sure nobody reads my comment anyway, but I feel better as being on record. :)

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

Lee Shelton IV;
Amen to your post. Are You related to RL Shelton Sr./

Carl said...

I'm going to be honest and frank here...and I may be completely in the wrong but here goes...

I have a hard time praying in support for Obama and his administration as some imply using Scripture since I find it (meaning Obama and his administration thus far) quite antiChristian. I feel Obama is not a good man and comes into office already corrupt and not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, I feel he has some unknown backers (handlers if you will) who are pulling the strings behind the scenes. I feel much of his appointees are also corrupt and I am fearful that more corruption will come about during the Obama regime. I feel Obama will place the United States in greater danger of many things such as terrorism, economic depression, reduction of constitutional freedoms, etc if he gets his way. And with a Democrat Congress being complicit and Republicans (who are the RINOs) only giving token resistance rather than doing what it right and fighting for the country, I foresee Obama getting just about everything he wants. Currently the national and international media which, for the most part, are in Obama's back pocket, are claiming he's moving to be more centrist but frankly everything he's promised and what he has done in one day shows me that he is not even close to being centrist and I expect him to be as liberal as he can be. Obama's already shown a lack of class by the sniping on his WH website of Bush.

These are just some of the reasons I have issues with praying in support for Obama and his administration. Rather, I pray that we Christians and the country will make it through the Obama Presidency and that the troubles I foresee will be minimalized. I pray for the government (local, state AND federal) to do the right thing for the citizenry but I expect that not to happen in many cases unless God wills it. I cannot and will not support Obama nor his administration politically speaking and will do whatever it takes to get him voted out of office in 4 years (incidentally, is it wrong, scripturally speakin, to pray that he is a one-term President?). Frank wrote, "it's not wrong to pray that a secular government be a just government" and I agree. In Titus 3:1-2, it is written, "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men." And I wish to be obedient to that and be subject and be obedient, but we, as citizens who are allowed to vote should still vote our conscience which I will do.

So, am I wrong here? Does God want us to pray for support for government that is showing itself in many areas to be antiChristian and holding to some ideals that are against God? Is praying for government to stop being antiChristian acceptable? Are we to capitulate? Please keep in mind, folks, I'm just a layperson who feels pessimistic about the country's future under an Obama administration and is also pessimistic thus far concerning Republicans not holding to conservative values.

In regards to Warren's prayer, I didn't see it. In fact I did what I could to avoid the entire inauguration (watched the Florida-Oklahoma BCS Championship game being re-aired for the umpteenth time on the Sunshine Network {a Florida-based cable TV sports network} and then went to work on my night shift. However I've read descriptions from others who did read it and a word comes to mind from the majority of those descriptions: lukewarm.

Was it "lukewarm"?

Also please pardon my rambling and please be assured that I am not intending to start any arguments nor wish to engage in any of a political nor spiritual nature. I am seeking some direction on prayer in regards to government and there are individuals from this blog whose opinions and advice I value.

Frank Turk said...

"hazy and indistinct"?

See -- I don't see it that way at all. I have a hard time making the Lord's prayer, framed as the prayer model which Jesus taught, a "hazy and indistinct" prayer which no one listening can decode because it's some kind of wink at other religious beliefs.

I think you, Pamela, like the others who have offered their opinions here of a like mind before you, have simply gone too far. Do I think he prayed a great, memorable, God-exalting prayer for the ages? No -- no way.

But did he pray to the God of Abraham, the God of Moses, the God of Jesus? In fact he did -- and he prayed expressly that we should know that this God will hold all men accountable.

But apparently because he didn't thread all the theological eyes of all the theological needles with the right color of theological thread, you're ready to call this prayer just trash.

I think you have to be more careful in your reasoning.

Pamela said...

No, Frank, I didn't say what you've just represented I said at all, although I suppose that with all these comments mingling with each other, I could see how you might mistakenly blend mine in with others'.

I also have to get productive today. But here are a couple things in response to what I hear you saying:

1) We don't always know how to pray, but we ought to know how not to pray. Rick Warren should have known better unite Muslims with Christians in one prayer, as we do not pray to the same God.

God is thrice holy. This multi-religionist blending can be nothing short of offensive to God, which is why it's offensive to me.

2) Perhaps Rick wasn't talking to us, but he was speaking for our benefit and on our behalf. That's what it means to lead a group of people in prayer. Therefore, an audible prayer will communicate something to those within its hearing. This would not be the time for intentional, inner re-interpretations of phrases and words that are calculated to be readily recognized by certain listeners to be references to their false god.

Additionally, this point is even more important when taking into consideration that prayer is a tool for evangelism.

I don't know what God did with Rick Warren's prayer. I'm sure that Mr. Warren meant well enough; God knows. As I've said before, Mr. Warren was under a lot of pressure, and I freely extend grace to Mr. Warren on the account that he has his human frailties just as I have mine.

But he was really wrong.

Frank Turk said...

For those who are really thinking about this, btw, I strongly suggest you read Dr. Al Mohler's prayer for our new president. Far more robust, and far more concerned with the one who is being petitioned than the priorities of the one for whom he is praying.

I like it a lot better.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"At best, he encouraged people to entertain the idea that Jesus might change their lives. So what?"

So what? So, if through that very encouragement, they find their way to their actual Savior...so WHAT????

Wow.

Stephen Dunning said...

As a Brit watching from abroad, a few random thoughts.

1) We enjoyed the use of our National Anthem - well, the tune if not the words. Good to see you remember the motherland ;)

2) But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.(Jer 29:7)

3) Those who are keen to criticise what Warren prayed please remember to remove the log from your own eye first.

4) Can we have an equally in-depth discussion of the closing prayer which, in comparison, seemed to be far more objectionable.

Andy said...

Wow I believe you have struck a chord! I checked this out earlier this morning and there was only NINE comments. Anyway, I don't have anything to say about the pro's and con's of the prayer, I am a teacher, and I think this is the first time in a LONG time that there has been prayer in school! And I am thankful for it.

Frank Turk said...

Stephen --

the reason Warren's prayer is such a hot-button is that he's allegedly a conservative evangelical.

The Dr. Seuss poem at the end of the ceremony was absurd at best.

Lee Shelton IV said...

"So what? So, if through that very encouragement, they find their way to their actual Savior...so WHAT????"

Yeah, so what? How does preaching a "Jesus will change your life" message translate into the good news that he died for sinners, removing the wrath of God from those who repent and put their faith in Christ? That wasn't even alluded to in Warren's prayer, so let's not pretend that he was evangelizing. Anyone can have the kind of belief in Christ that "changes" their lives. A mere belief in anything can have a life-changing effect. That kind of "faith" isn't the saving faith talked about in scripture.

Stefan said...

This is just a sidebar. In our prayer meeting this morning, during the devotions, our pastor graciously pointed out that there is context to 1 Timothy 2:1-2a—and not just 1 Timothy 2:2b. Here's my lame attempt at an exposition:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,...

Including whom?

...for kings and all who are in high positions,...

Why?

...that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way....

Which is good why? For our sakes?

...This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,...

And why is it pleasing to God our saviour?

...Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Not for our sakes! For the proclamation of the Gospel and the glory of God!

We should pray for our leaders, not (only) for their sake, nor even merely so that we can lead peaceful lives, but so that we can proclaim the Gospel in freedom, all for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom.

Just something to think about....

Johnny Dialectic said...

"Yeah, so what? How does preaching a "Jesus will change your life" message translate into the good news that he died for sinners, removing the wrath of God from those who repent and put their faith in Christ?"

You're changing the terms not only my previous posts, but your own message. To quote you again:

"At best, he encouraged people to entertain the idea that Jesus might change their lives. So what?"

No one's talking about "preaching a message." This was an inaugural prayer. And my response to you is that it is not a bad thing to have Jesus extolled before a billion people. It's not a "so what?" Because it may actually LEAD to the hearing of the message you earnestly present above.

Let's do a little thought experiment. No Rick Warren prayer. No mention of the name of Jesus to a billion people. No encouragement to "entertain the idea that Jesus might change their lives." None of that. Only a benediction which left out the name of Jesus in favor of rhyming "mellow" with "yellow" and whatever else he was saying.

Would you have preferred that to the Name above all Names worshipfully pronounced world wide?

Frank Turk said...

Stefan:

You and your pastor have just become dangerous men.

Welcome to the club.

Lee Shelton IV said...

Johnny, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. My problem isn't whether or not he said the name Jesus. Everyone knew about whom and to whom he was speaking. I was taking issue with you saying that he "was both praying AND evangelizing." Giving a testimony of a change in one's life isn't evangelizing. Besides, such a message is utterly worthless to those whose lives are, by all earthly standards, good.

You were the one who said he was evangelizing, and that's why you liked his prayer so much. My point is that he wasn't evangelizing. Evangelizing implies, at the very least, some presentation of the gospel, and the gospel cannot be summed up as a mere life-changing experience.

Carol Jean said...

Frank said, "By the middle of the prayer, I thought Pastor Warren had stopped talking to God for a little bit."

On Fox News late last night there were two commentators discussing both Warren's and Dr. Seuss's SPEECHES, not their prayers.

However, he DID insert the words of Christ at the end, and we know those are sharper than a double edged sword and will not return void, regardless of the vessel they are poured from. FWIW.

Stefan said...

Frank:

That there grammatical-historical hermeneutical thingy is potent stuff.

In other words, it's amazing what reading the Word in context will reveal.... ;)

Johnny Dialectic said...

OK, well I guess I see "evangelizing" in much broader terms, the way Paul did with the Athenians. They wanted "more," and, eventually, they got more. If Warren's prayer becomes an encouragement that leads to surrender to Christ, how can that possibly be a bad thing?

I ask again: better to have no prayer extolling the name of Jesus?

Just a note about Paul and Mars Hill. The ones he had been reasoning with were those in the synagogue, and the marketplace. A small group of philosophers got into it with Paul, and brought him to their Rotary Club. These were people who had NOT heard Paul's message or reasoning yet. It was a fresh address, and note he did not use the name "Jesus." Mere fluff?

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

Any thing done in the energy of the flesh, even witnessing,and prayer, is wood hay and stubble, and avails nada.

Preaching and teaching,and witnessing done in the power of The Holy Spirit is what God will use to bring in His elect sheep.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz

Solameanie said...

Short and sweet, yet already 87 comments in the meta.

Frank, how do you do it? Now Dan will have to post a haiku-length on another aspect of inaugural prayers to see if he can top this.

Suggestion: comments on Rev. Joseph Lowrey's little ditty at the end of his prayer.

DJP said...

Suggestion: comments on Rev. Joseph Lowrey's little ditty at the end of his prayer.

You don't go to my blog, do you, Sola?


< snif! >

Stefan said...

Frank, it's appropriate that you used a Norman Rockwell painting in this post.

Although I didn't watch the actual ceremony, news coverage I saw of it smacked of reporters attempting to out-Rockwell and out-Life Magazine each other in their capturing of this Great Historic Moment (TM).

(Not to detract from the fact that it was a historic moment....)

michelle said...

If you would indulge me I can give you alittle historical background in the little "ditty" at the end of Dr. Lowry's prayer.

The original form of this poem is as follow:

If you white, you're alright
If you're yellow, you're mellow
If you brown, you can stick around
But if you're black, get back!

Now, he added the "red" portion, but this original version has a long history in the Black community and centers on the variety of skin tones in our race and what they mean. Back in the day, your skin tone determined a lot, including the types of jobs you could get, or even how trustworthy you were in the eyes of white folks. The assumption was, the lighter you are, the more "white blood" you have coursing through your veins. And the more, the better. Black was inferior, the lowest on the totum pole, and the better you could hide your "blackness" the better off you were. This was also the era when "passing" was a normal occurence among lighter skinned blacks who had more european features.

Even though we are past that era, there is still residue that exists. I am 36, and a very fair-skinned Black woman. I have been on the receiving end of some very suspect and in some cases very offensive comments regarding my skin tone, not just from blacks but also from whites. And many times, these comments are made without any type of malice intended. However, the fact that I still face these things speak to the fact that there are still certain assumptions we operate under when it comes to how we view each other based on racial differences.

This is a point of healing that has yet to occur within the black community itself as well as among the races. I think that Dr. Lowry was ill-advised to use this in his prayer because this basic understanding of what is meant is something that a black person would better resonate with, simply beacuse we happen to know the history of it better.

This poem, however, is not what appalled me about his prayer. The assumption that we can "seek God's will" properly in a church, mosque and temple...that's what put me over the edge with him...

Frank Turk said...

Sola:

It is because I am misunderestimated.

Frank Turk said...

"Beth":

Still waiting for your e-mail back. Would love to chat with you more about your opinions after you answer my question.

Solameanie said...

Actually, Dan..I do go to your blog -- often --, but alas, did not do so today. I repent in sackcloth and ashes. As an aside, did you catch Will Smith's remarks in USA Today? I commented on it over at my place, but he should have given the prayer instead of Lowrey.

And we should probably pray for Smith. I'm sure he'll take heat for being so irenic and conciliatory.

DJP said...

I'll go there rat now.

Beth said...

Hi Frank,

I emailed you at your email on your profile...I didnt't get the email you sent. Did you email me at the email on my profile?

Solameanie said...

Michelle,

I understand and appreciate the historical background. What I have a hard time understanding is the refusal of many of the more high-profile civil rights fellows to acknowledge any progress on the race issue, most notably Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. As I noted to Dan, actor Will Smith captured exactly the right tone and sentiment in an essay published in USA Today -- for which he'll probably catch a lot of heat. To me, Lowrey's comment was a slap, and didn't seem to mesh well with the fact that Mr. Obama had been elected president.

But, we don't want to derail the meta with a potential argument on racial matters, do we? (smile)

Now, that would be ironic. Me derailing one of Frank's metas, and without a musical allusion.

DJP said...

It was the Gospel of Victimization. Like Ann Coulter says, "The first one to be offended, wins." So there's something wrong with every race - except blacks. Their only problem is that they're victims.

Me, I say there are only two races, and the in-Adam one all has the SAME problem.

michelle said...

Solemeanie - I am not condoning in any way Dr. Lowry's use of the poem. In fact, I stated that he was ill-advised to use it.

I could go on, but won't because we would be derailing the meta - perhaps I'll blog about this myself to clarify. In a nutshell, it's a matter of healing that has yet to take place in that generation. That's all I'll say on the matter.

Frank Turk said...

Yes, I did. let me resend.

Solameanie said...

Michelle..I can agree with that wholeheartedly. I'd love to read your blog post when you complete it as I would no doubt learn quite a bit.

Healing is certainly needed as the wounds inflicted were deep. I think we could also both agree that those who seek to exacerbate the wounds instead of healing them ought to be ashamed of themselves.

May God bless you abundantly!

Frank Turk said...

101 and counting

Frank Turk said...

Beth -- nothing in my inbox.

Let me try a different address from me.

michelle said...

I completely agree. I pray for those who do that on purpose or out of their own pain. Either way, it's sin that should be dealt with.

Rick Frueh said...

Let us be honest:

Rick Warren was asked to provide a token prayer that was basically ceremonial and within that context it was acceptable. I believe its spiritual impact was well within that same context.

Frank Turk said...

That is ultimately what I was wrestling with, Rick.

I am not sure that's where I come down, but I think that's the thesis statement I am wrestling with.

George R. Krahn said...

I have not read all of the 100+ comments on your Blog so I want to give you a link that I found in my Google Reader about the three names that Warren used in closing his prayer - http://www.loveforthetruth.com/2009/01/20/praying-in-the-name-of-isa/ - if this post is truth then Warren did not pray in the NAME of Jesus alone.

Pamela said...

For those interested, this aired on Moody Radio today. Guests include Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Dr. Michael Rydelnik and Dr. Samuel Naaman.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Gadzooks. How is praying for our new leaders, in obedience to the Scriptural mandate to do JUST THAT, and to pray the exact prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray, word for word, and to do it without equivocation in front of millions, "token"? Can the Lord's Prayer, in ANY context, EVER be considered "token"?

DJP said...

Yes, Johnny, we get that you think the prayer was just dandy. How many times, and in how many ways, were you planning on making that point?

And you really can't understand why some might think that a prayer given to believers in the context of their being believers and praying as believers may not be THE prayer to use in "leading" an audience of mostly-unbelievers, in praying for an almost-surely-unbeliever?

herewestand said...

I've quickly waded through the comments and looks like George Krahn hit the nail on the head.

I know I'm just a 21yr old student who took a world religions paper last semester, but when I heard "Isa", I freaked.

Arab Christians will very seldomly use Isa, because it is the name of the false Jesus, who did not die on the cross and rise again for the sins of the world.Instead they would use Yasu(sp). Over a billion Muslims would have understood Isa to be the prophet Jesus in the Quran. If Isa changed Rick's life, then we have reason to be cautious. This is more than splitting hairs folks, in a speech/prayer where he chose words so carefully, this could not have been a small oversight.

I've thought of doing a sort of expositional commentary on the prayer on my blog, but I'd much prefer to see one from a bigger name. Any takers?

Last thing, for a helpful exercise, compare Warrens prayer with Franklin Graham's from the Bush inaugaration in 2001. Google is your friend.

-Jono from NZ

Johnny Dialectic said...

Sorry, Dan, if I respond to points in the meta. I thought that's what it was for. I even responded to specific points. You make a point here. Can I respond?

My answer is No, I don't really understand how you can balk at the Lord's Prayer being given publicly no matter WHO is listening. Reciting the words of Jesus in front of non-believes is exactly the sort of thing Christians are supposed to be for. I believe the Spirit does business with non-believers through the Word. I think you do, too.

And that's why I think it was just "dandy."

Chad V. said...

Johnny

Yes, the Lord's prayer can be considered token in many contexts. In fact, it can be a lot worse, it can be blasphemy if wrongly applied. Remember Matthew 6?

Hypocrites are people who say they know God but by their works deny Him. If a hypocrite prays the Lord's prayer it's a hypocritical prayer.

LeeC said...

There is a bumper sticker that is popular at our church. It reads:

"America, Bless God."

I think that sums up my stance for prayer and action.

Chad V. said...

In fact, I might point out that just because the person leading the prayer may or may not be a hypocrite should in no way diminish the prayer of the righteous.

Chad V. said...

Oh, I might add, mixing a bunch of nonsense about what Martin Luther King is doing in heaven with the Lord's prayer is definitely something that makes me consider it token.

Beth said...

Johnny said… “Just a note about Paul and Mars Hill. The ones he had been reasoning with were those in the synagogue, and the marketplace. A small group of philosophers got into it with Paul, and brought him to their Rotary Club.

So Johnny…what’s your point?

Here’s what the scripture says….

Acts 17:17… “Then he reasoned in the synagogoue with the Jews”

Acts 17:17… “and with the Gentile worshipers”

Acts 17:17… “and in the market place daily with those who happened to be there”

Johnny…who was in the marketplace?

Acts 17:18… “then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said “What does this babbler want to say”

Acts 17:18… “Others said , “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.”

Acts 17:30-31…"Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."


Johnny said… “It was a fresh address, and note he did not use the name "Jesus."”

Beth said… “WHAT????? is your point?

Rachael Starke said...

WOW. I sure picked a great day to have such a full schedule that this is the first moment I've had to check in. 115 comments??? Isn't that some kind of record?

I was one of the ones whose brief response at JT's blog was initially positive. I think I said "It was good. He didn't cave. Let's pray for him." There were two reasons for that.

1. I meant what I said, but I left a LOT unsaid. This is RICK WARREN. Mr. "Your Best Purpose Now and Jesus Loves You This Much." He is not on my fan list on Facebook. To be blunt, I thought there was a possibility that he would deny Christ. I prayed fervently the night before that he wouldn't, for the sake of his own soul. When he not only didn't, but prayed with what seemed like true sincerity Jesus' own words in the Lord's Prayer, I was truly thankful to God that he didn't cave, when he was under significant pressure to. And I was genuinely moved (or as much as I could be, given that I was in the car driving kids to school) at the sound of a Christian man praying the very prayer of our Lord in an arena where so many could hear.

I wasn't responding with a particularly critical ear at that moment. I was just thankful to be hearing the prayer that I know God hears and says yes to. Later I listened again, and I understood and agreed with a lot of the objections.

But....

2. Justin's site is frequented, as most of us are aware, by a pretty colorful cast of characters, many of whom like to cause trouble but nevertheless are still souls in need of salvation. I was very conscious of their "listening in" to the Monday morning quarterbacking. For all of my disappointment that Rick Warren is the latest poster man for American Christianity, he is still a brother in Christ. And I just wasn't sure that that was the best location to really pick the thing apart. Here, OTOH, it's all good, of course. :)

I also wonder if some of the more, ahem, fiery frustration comes particularly from those dear brothers in ministry, who are faithful proclaimers and prayers of God's truth, who are truly called by God to do that, and so feel particular pain when someone else gets an opportunity like that and kind of makes a hash of it.

donsands said...

"For all of my disappointment that Rick Warren is the latest poster man for American Christianity, he is still a brother in Christ."

Some think Rick is a false teacher.

I agree with you Rachel.

Why is Rick tip toeing through the theological tulips?

I don't know. I wish He was bold in the Gospel, and simply said things like, "Jesus Christ is the Lord of the universe, and He is full of grace and mercy. He died for me, a sinner, and He rose from the dead, and I will boast in nothing else on this earth except my Lord and Christ.

If you have not come to Christ, and asked for His acceptance and forgiveness, and repented of your sins, then you had better do so. For God promises no one an extra breath in this life, and this may be your last. Today is the day of salvation, come to Christ. Cry out to Him, and confess your sins, and your need for a Savior.

His mercy is great, and grace is free. Come to Calvary and be set free from your sin; your condemnation; and the power of Satan. Jesus is a glorious Lord and God. Bow before Him today, and be born anew. If you don't God's wrath will abide upon you, and His judgment is a fearful thing for any sinner."

reformedlawless said...

I didn’t expect much really. One atheist wrote “It was a pretty good prayer”. What really got me was the part “I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray”. Isa is the Islamic name for Jesus. The Jesus of Islam is not the Jesus of the bible. Just another missed opportunity to proclaim Jesus as the only way, truth and life.

Frank Turk said...

"Isa is the Islamic name for Jesus. The Jesus of Islam is not the Jesus of the bible. "

Yeah, if I read this again I'm gonna say something I'm going to regret. Somebody re-listen to the audio Pamela posted (which isn't hardly as incriminating as pamela has been today).

Was the prayer as robust as Al Mohler's prayer? Not hardly. Did it make me proud? It wasn't to me or for me -- and with that, we're done here.