Last week the Presidential Inauguration Committee announced that Paula White, Senior Pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, would take part in the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Donald Trump. Several prominent Christian leaders and writers took issue with White’s invitation because they are concerned about her theology receiving mainstream attention.
Writing at The Resurgent, Erick Erickson proclaimed White to be a “Trinity-denying heretic” and said he would rather have a Hindu pray at the inauguration than a person who claims to believe in Jesus but doesn’t really, and who would thus would lead many astray. He linked to a video of White arguing that Jesus was not the only-begotten Son of God and showed that the earliest Christian creeds and councils condemned what she teaches as heresy and outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy.
The Washington Post ran an opinion piece by Westminster Seminary California professor Michael Horton who takes issue with White’s promotion of the prosperity gospel and positive thinking movement. He gives a history of this movement, along with its emphasis on Christians becoming “little gods” and promotion of “seed faith,” a financial commitment that people must give to release God’s blessings in their lives. Horton acknowledges that there is no test of orthodoxy for the office of the Presidency, but is concerned about the platform White is receiving to bring the prosperity gospel into the mainstream.
White responded to the accusations this morning, saying she believes in the Trinity and full divinity of Jesus. She also said the Bible is the source of her theology and teaching because it is “inerrant and God’s truth.”
This year's dustup is not the first time those chosen to pray at the inauguration have sparked controversy. In 2009, columnists on the left criticized President Obama’s decision to ask Rick Warren, Pastor at Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life, to pray at his first inauguration. After President Obama invited Passion City Church Pastor and leader of the Passion Movement Louie Giglio to pray in 2013, audio surfaced of a sermon from the 1990’s in which he identified homosexuality as a sin. The backlash led Giglio to turn down the invitation because he was concerned that the controversy would dwarf whatever he might say in his prayer.
The controversy over White’s invitation is different from that surrounding Warren and Giglio because it is coming from conservative Christians instead of more liberal organizations and focuses on the seeming rejection of Christian orthodoxy rather than the embrace of Christian teaching on marriage.
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Publication date: January 4, 2017