While driving home and listening to NPR, I heard an interview of Bishop V. Gene Robinson. Robinson is the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal church. He advised Barack Obama on gay-rights issues during the primaries and has recently been invited to say the opening prayer at the inaugural kick-off. You can listen to the interview (5 minutes) here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99311912
The interviewer asked Robinson if he was able to glean any inspiration by reading through inaugural prayers of the past. Robinson stated that the effect was exactly the opposite. He was dismayed at how "aggressively Christian" the prayers had been. Robinson said that he would strive to be more inclusive of all religions in his prayer, that he would not invoke the name of Jesus, and, in fact, that he would be addressing his prayer to "the-god-of-many-understandings."
While the interviewer was impressed with this new term, I was not. On a political level, I would prefer that Obama recruit representatives of all different faiths to pray to their respective gods. Allah, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Yahweh--let's give them each their proper address. This invented, edgy term, Mr. Robinson, is simply bound to get the wires of communication crossed in the heavens/Sheol/nirvana/afterlife other-worlds.
Without indulging too much into the apologetic argument against pluralism, this term simply doesn't work. The beauty of Christ is that He is God-Revealed-To-Us. John rightly said that no one could see or understand God, so God-the-Son explained Him to us. My conviction is that my religion is different than all others and everything in between because it is not my self's brilliant concoction of "what works for me." The beliefs I own, the worldview I hold to, are not self-invented. To a more accurate end, they are not even man-invented. The little light that I have has been revealed.
I have within me a deep rejection of this idea of this god-of-many-understandings because I know I am prone to worship him. The-god-of-my-understanding and I have a familiar history. He presents himself as an attractive alternate to God-Revealed-to-Us (Christ) whenever I come across scripture with which I struggle.
I am tempted to partake in a "buffet-bible"- I like this over here, so I'll put it on my plate of convictions, not so sure about that stuff, so I'll just pass on it. There exist serious stumbling blocks in the Bible that I have made a career of trying to jump over. My toes are now bandaged, but every now and then the wounds feel fresh. And yet I persist in receiving God's word unedited, in spite of my biases, personal life experiences and impaired understanding.
Instead me requiring that God accommodate himself to my comprehension and my lifestyle, He has required that I accommodate myself and my worldview to Him and His. He gave the command, "be holy, for I am holy." We are the ones who are to apply ourselves to his truth which has already been revealed.
Come January 20, let's pray to God-Revealed-To-Us. Let's ask Him to guide this nation and bring attention to Himself. Let's also ask Him to guard our hearts against the seductive inclination to imagine Him as we would like, and not as He Is.
The-god-of-many-understandings is alive and well today, but we bow to One who will receive all glory and praise. May our knees be worn and our minds be changed in this present as we look to that day.