Barack Obama & Rick Warren week, Barack Obama announced that Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church, near Los Angeles, will deliver the invocation for his Inaugural on January 20, sparking sharp reaction from several factions.

Before I continue, full disclosure:  I’m an Evangelical Christian.  I’ve read several of Pastor Warren’s books, including “The Purpose Driven Church,” and “The Purpose Driven Life.” I attended a four-day church leaders’ conference he put on at Saddleback Church, where I met and chatted with him.  I admire and respect him.

Some Evangelicals worry that this could signal some change in Pastor Warren’s theological principles.  But the most outrage comes from the so-called “gay community,” politicians, activist groups, bloggers and media writers.  Phil Bronstein of the San Francisco Chronicle was typical:

Just when you thought maybe the molten lava of the Proposition 8 protest backwash had cooled  to street steam and legal challenges, BOOM! Barack Obama, of all people, rolls a great big grenade under the door of the gay community.

California Ballot Proposition 8 was a proposed State Constitutional Amendment, put on the ballot to nullify a bizarre State Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.  The court found that the authors of the State Constitution, in 1849, somehow intended to confer a right of same sex marriage, without mentioning it, even though there had been no such marriages in California’s  history.  John McCain won only 37% in California, while Prop 8 passed with 52%.  Since election day there have been scores of demonstrations against Prop 8, all over the state.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-bisexual-transgendered activist group published a letter he sent to Obama, protesting the selection of Pastor Warren.  An excerpt:

By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.  In this case, we feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination.

Calling Pastor Warren “an architect and promoter of an anti-gay agenda” is a bit over the top.  Warren leads no “anti-gay” movement or activities.  He  did support Proposition 8, but then, so did a majority of voters here in in hyper-liberal California.  Does that mean we have several million “architects of an anti-gay agenda?”

In just 24 hours Cable TV has managed to present a dozen or more vitriolic spokespersons from “the gay community” who have condemned Pastor Warren for “using religion to divide people,” and expressed disgust with Obama for daring to defy the leaders of this vocal constituency, who are now beginning to claim they were bamboozled into supporting him, even though he never endorsed their top issue, gay marriage.

For an insight into why Pastor Warren would want to participate in the inauguration, even though he openly disagrees with Obama on abortion, gay marriage and other issues I offer the two scriptures Warren adopted as the fundamental, guiding principles of his ministry.

The first is called The The Great Commandment; Mark 12: 28 – 31:

One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

The Second is called The Great Commission; Matthew 28: 18-20:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Pastor Warren’s mission transcends political and moral disagreements.  His decision to accept this invitiation would have been guided by these two scriptures.  He believes that his appearance to give the invocation will be a demonstration of Christ’s love for all, and will further the goal of The Great Commission, spreading the Gospel to all nations.

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