For those of you who have spent the last week watching Michael Phelps or googling “Bigfoot,” evangelical megachurch guru Rick Warren is going to host a forum for the two Presidential candidates at Saddleback Church today. Each one gets an hour of identical questions from the closest thing evangelicals have to a generic papal type guy.
Warren doesn’t strike me as having the journalistic temperament, but he may surprise. I mean, it’s bound to be tougher than Larry King, right? (“Senator McCain, what would you say to Americans who are concerned about Brittney Spears?” “Senator Obama, how old do the Chinese gymnasts look to you?”)
Warren’s been getting some expected free…uh…advice urging him to throw down tough questions on abortion and gay marriage. I suppose there are still people out there in the world who believe politicians will actually give straight and substantial answers on such questions, but they are probably tied up with that Bigfoot story.
I haven’t heard a major politician grilled on the actual real issues, facts and choices in years. (We miss you Tim Russert.) And short of a miracle, Rick Warren won’t press home those questions either. I hope I’m wrong.
It’s too much irony that Warren said “Jesus Christ,” since that is the Christian confession that Jesus is God’s anointed King. Properly exegeted, Warren just said he’s going to ask the candidates a question about the real King.
In political circles, Jesus is the guy who comes on and says “I’m Jesus Christ, and I approved this message.” That message could be about ANYTHING and, amazingly, Jesus seems to be on everyone’s side, approving all options, endorsing all candidates, giving his divine approval to whatever either candidate wants to do.
Offshore drilling? Jesus wants us to have cheap gas.
Save the environment? Jesus loves his creation and hates oil companies.
War on Terror? Jesus wants the bad man to go to hell.
War on Terror using weapons? Haven’t you read your Bible? Jesus isn’t for that.
Higher taxes? Of course. Jesus wants the rich to pay for those social programs.
Lower taxes. Hey, Jesus says it’s your money.
Abortion? Jesus loves babies.
Abortion? Jesus loves women’s rights.
Gay marriage? Jesus says read Leviticus.
Gay marriage? Jesus says its all about love love love.
Vote for Obama? Jesus loves change.
Vote for McCain? Haven’t you noticed Jesus has lots of Republican friends?
I don’t expect any of this to go in very helpful directions, because I don’t expect anything close to the real Jesus to show up. And I don’t expect either politician to express anything like the sentiments of scripture about their kingdoms and his Kingdom.
1 Why are the nations so angry?
Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
2 The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
the rulers plot together
against the LORD
and against his anointed one.
3 “Let us break their chains,” they cry,
“and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
4 But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then in anger he rebukes them,
terrifying them with his fierce fury.
6 For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne
in Jerusalem,* on my holy mountain.”
7 The king proclaims the LORD’s decree:
“The LORD said to me, ‘You are my son.*
Today I have become your Father.*
8 Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,
the whole earth as your possession.
9 You will break* them with an iron rod
and smash them like clay pots.'”
10 Now then, you kings, act wisely!
Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
11 Serve the LORD with reverent fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Submit to God’s royal son,* or he will become angry,
and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
But what joy for all who take refuge in him!
(Psalm 2 NLT)
Or this one
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh* was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. 18 Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,*
16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.*
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
If that Jesus makes an appearance at the candidate’s forum, put peanut butter on my hat and hand it to me with a Diet Coke.