Our new Billy Graham

So have you seen the news lately?


It makes me smile. And also, this is not very new. I often tell people that growing up in Alabama taught me how closed minded conservative Christians can be and going to Emory taught me how closed minded liberal Christians can be.

Certainly Obama supporters (who are upset) saw this coming? They didn't really think that a man who succeeded in bringing together a nation around a call for change would be surprised when he took a big step in making that change happen?

My mind goes immediately to Jesus hanging out with the Pharisees... there are so many places in the Bible where Jesus takes a poorly respected person in the community and lifts them up to a seat at the table. Or uses the rejected to spread the Gospel.
  1. As a young boy, Jesus taught the rabbis in the temple. (okay, so I guess Jesus is the poorly respected person, but still)
  2. The centurion - a gentile showed more faith than Jesus had seen in all of Israel.
  3. The woman at the well - a samaritan! Comes to faith.
  4. The man born blind - He was too much a sinner for the Pharisees to listen to him...
  5. Tax collectors - Zacceaus and Matthew - utterly without respect in their communities. They made a change.
  6. Paul - could you imagine? The chief persecutor becomes the chief advocate.
You get the idea. In a way, Warren is in an amazing position to become the voice of a new Christianity like Billy Graham was once. The test of Warren's success will not be whether he convinces the non-Christians to redefine how they view Christians. The measure of success will be whether Rick Warren can convince Christians to redefine how they view other Christians.

I'd love to know what you think about this. I wouldn't be surprised if there are some people out there who's heads are going to explode because Rick Warren is being associated with Barack "still a muslim" Obama. There are a few options of response...
  • Disavow Obama. Can you believe he'd even talk to that Christian? They are all the same.
  • Disavow Warren. I knew he was as weak as the rest of the mainline denominations. Can't comprimise the Gospel.
  • Like them both more. In the article above, Melissa Etheridge says something that I've heard Christians (my age) say in response to negativity about Christianity. Although, Melissa Etheridge is saying this in the context of working for homosexual equality in America:
    Maybe if they get to know us, they won't fear us. I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.
Dude. You know how much I want to scream that every time ANYone is stereotyped? Whether it is a homosexual person or a hillbilly redneck. You are right, Melissa Etheridge. We live in a new era. A time when Christians can listen to the people they want so desparately to love. The Gospel is good news for everyone. What was Warren's list? Ah yes...quite exhaustive...
Meanwhile, TMZ reports that Warren, clearly concerned about his image (not only did he release these new videos but on Saturday night he also proclaimed his love for gays, as well as straights, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Democrats and Republicans, while speaking to a convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council) visited a thrift shop that benefits AIDS treatment in West Hollywood yesterday, where he put his arm around a gay man and gave him a signed copy of one of his books.
Catch that? All the people that Christians usually are supposed to hate. Warren doesn't do that (or says he doesn't).

Maybe our new Billy Graham and our new JFK will both show us Christ-like behavior.

Comments

  1. It may be difficult to understand the hurt of the gay community unless you are part of it. I suppose it might be akin to how a Christian might feel if a Muslim had been chosen to offer a prayer.

    Having said that, I believe Obama is on the right track, even if Warren is the wrong choice for this purpose (who knows?). We need to get used to Obama's attempt to achieve unity and solutions to problems by including all in the discussion. Not just one side. Not even just the side that may be "right". And all sides must have a real authentic voice that has a chance of being heard. A lesson in listening, for us all.

    I'm not thrilled with Warren as the choice for this prayer, but I am enouraged by the opportunity for real dialogue. No real dialogue can happen with only one voice speaking, or one side listening.

    And now for our offering . . .

    sorry for the sermonization.

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  2. Hmmm... your Gay/Christian conflict comparison to Christian/Muslim conflict is interesting but its a little different than what I was going for. Obama is an insider either way, at the moment. But the disappointment - I feel - is more similar to me asking for Jesus to become more real in their lives and then he asks me to love the unlovable or sell all my possessions. I don't always take kindly to Jesus asking me to do hard things, but isn't that expected when I ask Jesus to change me?

    and yes, I know, the messianic comparisons with Obama are dangerous, I just play with them because some people feel that way about Obama (and maybe Warren?).

    The key difference in my mind is that the challenge should be expected instead of shocking; thus welcomed instead of grieved.

    Regardless, you are correct - the conversation is not really with Warren.

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