Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rick Warren's God NOT "the God I know" says Robinson

In today's New York Times article on the controversy over President Elect Obama's selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the Invocation at the Inaguration, Bishop Gene Robinson sheds some light on our differences:
V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, whose consecration caused a painful divide in his church because he is openly gay, said that when he heard about the selection of Mr. Warren, “it was like a slap in the face.”

Bishop Robinson had been an early public endorser of Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and said he had helped serve as a liaison between the campaign and the gay community. He said he had called officials who work for Mr. Obama to share his dismay, and been told that Mr. Obama was trying to reach out to conservatives and give everybody a seat at the table.

“I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” Bishop Robinson said, “but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”
Two things caught my attention in these words:
1) Robinson makes a distinction between being included at the table and being given a place of honor, and
2) Robinson suggests that the places of honor should be reserved for those who share his understanding of God.

But, isn't it Robinson's understanding of the Baptismal Covenant that no one should be denied access to the places of honor as long as they have been baptized? Isn't this a repudiation of the arguments that we have been hearing about why sexually active gays and lesbians should be given seats of honor in the Episcopal Church?

If Robinson's thinking regarding Warren is correct, then isn't it equally correct for those who think he is worshiping a different God to refuse to have him given a place of honor in their churches? When it really comes down to it, both sides seem to agree that we are finding different Gospels in the Bible and we are worshiping different Gods.


BillyD said...

I agree with Bishop Robinson about the unsuitability of Rick Warren as the person to deliver the invocation. As Bishop Chane pointed out on the subject, Warren has spoken out in favor of assassinating the President of Iran. Imagine our level of discomfort if a mullah who had called for the assassination of our President were chosen for an important government invocation.

And I think that Bishop Robinson's distinction between having a place at the table and being asked to lead the gathering in prayer is an important one. I think that his "Rick Warren's God isn't mine" is an example of ill-chosen rhetoric, but I think I understand what he meant.

Perpetua, I think that you have been confused by the sloppy language some "progressives" use about inclusion. When they say that they want a fully inclusive church, they aren't necessarily saying that it doesn't matter what you think, do, or say. As was pointed out to me on another website this week (which one I don't recall), the calls for inclusion means not excluding someone for something what they are - not exluding people based on race, sexuality, handicap, or other "essential" attributes. Bishop Robinson's saying that Rick Warren ought not to be given a central place in the inauguration is saying that he ought not to given it due to his views and statements, not because of what or who he is. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Personally, I see the move as a very cynical one on Obama's part. He's using religion and his gay supporters as game pieces in the political game - something he did during the campaign, as well.

Full disclosure: I voted for Obama, and am still happy that he won, but he was not my first choice and whatever honeymoon we might have had is definitely over.

Perpetua said...

Hi BillyD,

I didn't vote for Obama, but I am rooting for him and praying for him because he is our President elect. I want the best for our country. And I respect very much that he seems to be trying very hard to make the statement with his choices that he will be President for all the people. I don't like the idea that any group that voted for him and/or contributed to his campaign thinks that they have bought him and that he has to do their bidding.

Regarding "essential attributes" vs. what we think, do or say: Conservatives Christians also make this distinction between who one is and what one does. Conservative Christians say that all sorts of sexual attractions may be innate to particular individuals, but that engaging in sexual behavior is a choice that one makes. For example, with respect to adultery, many men (and women) may have an innate predisposition to have sex with multiple partners. However, conservative Christians say that it is still a sin to actually have sex with multiple partners. And it goes beyond sexual predispositions and behaviors. Recent research indicates that some individuals may be born with a genetic predisposition for theft and lying.

It is interesting to see the argument that despite the tremendous good that Warren has done, he should be rejected for what he has done that is wrong. The progressives in the Episcopal Church have been arguing that people who engage in sexual misbehavior should be allowed to be ordained because of the many good things they have done.

BillyD said...

The progressives in the Episcopal Church have been arguing that people who engage in sexual misbehavior should be allowed to be ordained because of the many good things they have done.

Actually, the argument with which I am familiar is that homosexual acts, per se, are no more sexual misbehavior than heterosexual acts are.

Perpetua said...

Hi BillyD,
It is my understanding that Rick Warren thinks divorce is worse than same-sex behavior.

BillyD said...

Just divorce, or divorce and remarriage?

The Underground Pewster said...

Perhaps Bishop Robinson was hoping for a shot at the inaugural invocation himself.

When he was elected Bishop, it was a slap in the face to some of us, as have many of his comments since. Comments such as, " And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know..."

What goes around comes around.