Amen and Awoman: A Tempest in a Teapot?
Christian particularism (the belief that Jesus is the way, truth and life) is an embarrassment to progressive Christians. Nowhere is this more evident than the epic fail of Emanuel Cleaver’s opening prayer of the 117th Session of Congress.
You know the prayer. That’s the one where he ends with “amen and awoman.”
Since then, Rep. Cleaver tried to do damage control by saying that it was simply a pun intending to recognize the record number of women serving in the new Congress.
Okay. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. (However, doing stand up might best be reserved for the club, not Congress.)
Let’s however, consider his words right before the infamous “amen and awoman” ending. He says: “We ask in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and god known by many names by many different faiths.”
Imagine such a prayer being on the lips of Paul, Peter or any Christian of the early church. Their words would be considered blasphemous and heretical. Rightfully so.
Is this a tempest in a teapot? Should Christians be invoking the name of other deities in their prayers? How about prayer in a public forum where many do not share our belief? Remember that Emanuel Cleaver is a Methodist Pastor and seminary graduate.
Let’s ask: What’s the point of prayer anyway? Is it mere State ceremony? Or is it petition, praise or thanksgiving directed towards God?
If that’s the case, then the monotheistic God of the Bible is clear about how he regards inclusive prayer: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8).
Elsewhere the Lord declares this about other gods: “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:5). He takes idolatry very, very seriously. Surely, a seminary-educated pastor would know this and show the Lord the respect that he’s due. But progressive politics exerts its pressure, and many crumble under it.
Not Daniel. Both he and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had pledged their allegiance to the highest Authority—God, an authority greater than any State or ruler. And they were willing to face the consequences for it. Whatever consequences came.
It’s the fear of consequences that leads to compromise. And in today’s climate, we need more men and women of faith to be brave and boldly stand for truth, even when it’s unpopular.