Dr. Rick Warren seems to live in the eye of the storm these days. I think this actually is where all faithful ministers must live if they are to make a real impact upon people. On the right Rick Warren is now being attacked for tolerance and civility toward the wrong people, especially toward President Obama. I read one criticism after another the night before the inauguration. I found it disheartening and disappointing. Then after he prayed yesterday at the inauguration I visited the Web again and found the left had gone to work on his prayer with ferocity. Web sites have comments of all sorts of course. Those who post the responses of all continue to savage Warren as an intolerant bigot and a vile intolerant homophobe. For such people the one thing they will not tolerate is a Christian who still believe homosexual practice is a sin. So what we have here is a very public Christian minister, one who clearly loves Jesus Christ and cares about his nation deeply, who accepts the invitation of the president-elect to offer prayer at his inauguration. He then prays as a Christian and what he says comes under fire from the far left and the far right. This seems about right to me but then I admit I like Rick Warren and find his blend of faith and public service a wonderfully balanced.
I thought back to the prayers offered by evangelicals at previous inaugurations yesterday, most offered by Dr. Billy Graham, who prayed at seven such events over the years. (Public prayers were apparently not prayed at such events until the 20th century.)
Dr. Graham was always gracious, appropriately measured and always seemed to fit the occasion well. But I never heard him offer a prayer so powerful as that offered by Rick Warren yesterday. If you have not read or seen the prayer you can now do so online. Listen for yourself. I would love to know if you think he spoke both wisely and biblically.
People of a more liberal bent preferred the prayer of Dr. Joseph Lowery to that of Dr. Warren. I liked them both, but for very different reasons. Lowery spoke for the African-Americans who lived through the Civil Rights movement and thus took us back to the historical events that made this event possible. I do know this: Rick Warren confessed the Lordship of Christ powerfully and prayed a truly Christian prayer that spoke to my heart. I was deeply moved by it, having anticipated it for some days.