“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:7-8 NIV)
Rick Warren closed his Inaugural Prayer at Barack Obama’s Inauguration with these words: “I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”
At first glance, it appeared that Pastor Warren had bucked the political correctness of our day and bravely ended his much anticipated prayer in the name of Jesus. Like first century Jerusalem, the one thing intolerable in twenty-first century America is a Christian who dares to speak the name of “Jesus” in public (Acts 4:5-31; 5:28, 40-42; 9:13-16, 21; 15:26; 21:13; 26:9-11). Consequently, everyone was wondering whether Warren would dare to do the intolerable by biblically and unabashedly praying in “Jesus name” (John 14:13-14; 16:23-24).
At first glance it appeared that Warren had went where few contemporary Christians are willing to go; namely, outside the camp to Christ where the disgrace of our Savior is borne and our personal reputation sacrificed (Hebrews 13:11-14). Upon closer scrutiny, however, it turned out that Warren never really left the camp at all, but remained safely within the comfortable confines of compromise.
One of the names for Jesus in which Warren prayed his Inaugural Prayer is “Isa.” Although the Arabic for Jesus is “Yesu,” Mohammed refers to Jesus as “Isa” throughout the Koran. When forced to flee Mecca for Medina because of the preaching of his new religion, Mohammed suddenly found himself in a city that was founded and predominantly populated by Jews. The Jews of Medina viewed Jesus Christ as a phony Messiah and ridiculed Him by calling Him “Esau,” after the rejected brother of Jacob who swapped his birthright for beans and lost his father’s blessing. Mohammed picked up this derogatory name for Jesus, translated it into Arabic as “Isa,” and used it throughout the Koran when referring to Christ.
According to the Koran, “Isa” is like Adam, a mere man created by Allah from the dust. Furthermore, he is nothing more than a servant of Allah, whom Allah can destroy anytime he takes a notion to. Therefore, anyone professing “Isa” to be God or the Son of God is under the curse of Allah and will be “forbidden entrance into paradise and cast into the fire of hell.”
It was the Apostle Paul who warned us about false prophets who preach “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Muslims preach “another Jesus,” one who the Koran says only appeared to die on the cross for the sins of the world. In the Middle Ages, Martin of Tours taught believers to distinguish the real Jesus from all others by asking, “Where are the nail-prints?” If there are no nail-prints, it is not the real Jesus, but a counterfeit Christ.
One cannot help but wonder why Rick Warren prayed His Inaugural Prayer in the name of the nail-scarred Jesus who changed his life, as well as in the name of Islam’s counterfeit Christ, who has no nail-prints. Granted, Rick may have merely intended to include the “Arabic” name for Jesus in the closing of his prayer so as not to offend Muslim Americans. Yet, I’m afraid his attempt at praying a non-offensive prayer ended up being most offensive to the One to whom he prayed.
Try as we may, loyalty to our Lord leaves us no way around His solemn warning—“And you shall be hated of all men [and of all nations] for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22; 24:9; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17). The true church of Jesus Christ has no other alternative but to unapologetically profess and to unabashedly proclaim the name of Jesus. No matter the cost or consequence to ourselves, we must never deny the name of the only one who can set before us an open door to the treasure house of God (Revelation 3:7-8).
Pray that the church will not succumb to political correctness by refusing to boldly and publicly proclaim the name of Jesus—He who alone can save America!