CONFUSING truth in the Church for the State
You may well have noticed that there’s a lot going on in U.S. politics at the moment.
You may also have noticed what arose on 3rd. January 2021 when a congressman who is also a Methodist minister (Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver) prayed as the U.S. House of Congress convened.
If you missed it, he ended his prayer with “amen and awoman” ... and Evangelicals LAUGHED in their polite embarrassment for him.
Winding up with Amen and aWOman
But as people have been chuckling they've been missing the bigger point. It's not just the way Christians end prayers Congressman Cleaver assumed the right to rewrite. It was the essential truth claims of four major world religions.
You see, in the sniggering about Amen and aWOman what's been missed about Cleaver's big gig of the day was that he prayed in the name of the Hindu god Brahma. And he did that calling Brahma “the monotheistic god” known by “many names” to “many faiths.”
The text of the Blunder of the Day
The text of the whole prayer is online here, but to demonstrate, here's how he ended his prayer:
“... we ask it in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and god known by many names, by many different faiths. Amen, and awoman.”
Firstly, that ‘Amen and aWOman’ is nonsense.
“Amen” is simply a Hebrew word indicating endorsement and approval - like saying ‘certainly’ to something someone else has been saying. The word just carried over as it stood into the New Testament’s Greek and into almost every other language into which Christian prayer has since journeyed. ‘Amen’ is in no way connected to the word 'men', and “awoman” isn’t a real word at all.
It’s been suggested recently that “Amen and awoman” makes as little sense as ‘Government and governWOment’.
An exclusive personal god only the Congressman knows about
Secondly, what almost everybody missed was that Congressman Cleaver invented a god there that only he knows about, and he did it in the name of religious inclusion. (You see the problem there? This is nobody's god but his own ... how inclusive can this possibly be?!)
Calling the same what is obviously different
Yes, Rev. Cleaver prayed using loads of Biblical names for God like 'the Lord,' 'eternal God,' and 'the God who created the world and everything in it', but then he ended his prayer:
By Gunawan Kartapranata - Own work,
CC BY-SA 3.0,
Let's be very clear about this: Hinduism does NOT recognise Brahma as a “monotheistic god” like the God of Christianity, Judaism or Islam - in fact Hinduism's said to have 33 million gods!
And, of course, those other three major world faiths are monotheistic faiths insisting there's ONLY one God ... honouring to some degree Deuteronomy 5:7 which says “You shall have no other gods besides Me”!
This is important for several reasons
First and foremost, Christians and Hindus do not worship the same God. Yahweh and Brahma are NOT just two different names for the same deity. There's a STARTLING lack of reality in that prayer.
Secondly, the God of the Bible is clear where He stands on this, in fact, whilst working out the implications of the Ten Commandments (no less) Exodus 23:13 is DOUBLY explicit about this: “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.”
Systematically replacing the name of Jesus with the name of Brahma is nothing short of blasphemy - a huge offense - in at least three major world religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism). And in addition to that, this “monotheistic god, Brahma” is a mauling of the Brahma Hindus worship!
There's a blatant lack of touch with reality, and it's happening in the public space ... in the prayer at the opening of Congress. There's a thought that may need time to sink in. No foundation was being laid THERE in truth!
So in summary by invoking this "monotheistic god, Brahma" Congressman Cleaver didn’t actually invoke either the god of polytheistic Hinduism or of any major religion at all.
What happened when he tried to count everyone in, was that he ruled out the inclusion of any of the faiths that he named!
- This sort of attempt to include everybody in an attempt to be inoffensive not only lacks intellectual integrity, it is actually offensive and exclusive of everyone it seeks to include.
- It epitomises the rank high water mark of the cult of the individual in Western thought, which assumes the right to declare true exactly what any individual wishes.
- But most fundamentally of all it robs the hope offered by any of these world religions, and it does that by violating their claims to be THE way to some better experience of reality. This robs their hope, because it seeks to shame into silence their truth claims about their pathways to ‘life’ … however they define them … and certainly aims a swipe at the evidence-backed truth claims of Christ and His Word.
And it seems that in the preoccupation of Evangelicalism with sexuality and gender equality, these far greater issues seem to have been largely missed.
Christians need to lay hold again FIRMLY to Christ's claim to be unique, following the Christ Who insistently taught "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6), in the footsteps of His very first followers. Those whose footsteps we follow consistently taught - while facing down the violent threats from exclusively monotheistic Jews and equally exclusively polytheistic Rome - that "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).
Of course we need to be ready to EVIDENCE these claims.
And we need to be ready to persevere whilst being unpopular for doing so, as this is the Christ-follower's promised experience (Matthew 10:22).