I made the mistake of reading about the Louie Giglio imbroglio before going to bed, and it kept me from falling asleep. So now I’m dangerously typing a blog post at 1:00 AM, hoping I won’t regret this in the morning. I share my evangelical friends’ concerns about America’s growing intolerance with conservative Christianity (i.e., Christianity) and wonder with them if there is space for us in the public square. But on balance I suspect that being disinvited to pray at a presidential inaugural will turn out to be a good thing.
I admit that part of me was comforted when Billy or Franklin Graham prayed at past inaugurations. I was less sanguine about Rick Warren, who seems to lack sufficient gravitas for such occasions. A part of me liked the idea that America was still a Christian nation who marked our most solemn ceremonies with prayers to the true God.
But most of me thought the prayers were out of place, offensive to those who don’t believe in Jesus and demeaning to the office of the person offering the prayer. I’m not saying I would have the courage and humility to actually do this, but if I were a pastor who was invited to pray at the presidential inauguration I’d like to think that I would politely decline on the grounds that I am employed by the King of Kings and won’t stoop to become a pastor of civil religion. I refuse to confuse Christ’s church with the American government and I won’t allow my presence to leave the false impression that because we’re Americans we are somehow all God’s children who enjoy his blessing.
I believe that Christians must argue for our place in the public square and that our Christian values should determine how we vote and argue for our positions. But I think it’s probably for the best that we decline all opportunities to contribute to America’s window dressing of civil religion. Our church and doctrine will be purer, and it will be easier to tell who the unconverted are. That can only help the spread of the gospel.
So yes, they really do hate us and soon it may be illegal in America to read certain passages of the Bible in public. But since God is sovereign, I’m betting that will turn out for the furtherance of the gospel. And I can go back to bed.