WASHINGTON — “In the strong name of our collective faith, amen” was how Silvester Beaman of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Delaware ended his benediction on Wednesday during the Biden-Harris inauguration. His avoidance of using the name of Jesus in the prayer was noted by at least one pastor, who refuted Beaman’s choice of words online.
“It must be said: there is no such name,” wrote Mike Riccardi, the pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.
“And even if there were, that name would not be the only name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12),” he noted. “It would not be the name above every name — the name to which every knee will bow and every tongue will swear allegiance (Phil 2:9-11). It would not be the name of Christ, in whom alone are the promises of God yes and amen (2 Cor 1:20).”
Beaman, a longtime friend of the Biden family who participated in the funeral for Beau Biden in 2015, had been asked by Joe Biden to close out the inauguration ceremony with prayer.
“Joe Biden is a man whose life experiences have taught him to seek the face of God,” Beaman told NBC News. “He’s had some dark times in his life. And he’s someone who is naturally a person of faith. He prays and listens to God.”
“We need a president who is after the heart of God,” he continued. “In these terrible times, if anybody can bring healing and reconciliation to a divided country, if we give him room to work, Joe Biden can be that person.”
On Wednesday, Beaman asked for God’s favor on Biden and Harris, controversial figures who were opposed by Christians in the election primarily because of their support for homosexuality, transgenderism and abortion “rights.”
“God, we gather under the beauty of your holiness and the holiness of your beauty. We seek Your face, Your smile, Your warm embrace,” he said. “We petition you once more in this celebration. We pray for divine favor upon our president, Joseph R. Biden, and our first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and their family.”
“We further ask that you would extend the same favor upon our vice president, Kamala D. Harris, and our second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, and their family,” Beaman continued. “More than ever they and our nation need You.”
In keeping with the theme of unity, he spoke of realizing the common humanity, which compels one to have compassion for the sick, poor, elderly and oppressed. In brevity, Beaman also mentioned confessing sin and seeking forgiveness.
“In you, O God, we discover our humanity. And in our humanity, we discover our commonness, beyond the difference of color, creed, origin, political party, ideology, geography and personal preferences,” Beaman stated, remarking that men should “make friends of our enemies.”
He also touched on the nation’s stain of slavery, noting that slaves had been used to build the U.S. Capitol building.
“Let us all acknowledge from the indigenous Native American to those who recently received their citizenship, from the African American to those whose foreparents came from Europe and every corner of the globe, from the wealthy to those struggling to make it, for every human being — regardless of their choices, that this is our country,” he proclaimed.
“As such, teach us, O God, to live in it, love in it, be healed in it, and be reconciled to one another in it, lest we miss kingdom’s goal.”
Beaman then ended the prayer with, “To Your glory, majesty, dominion and power forever. Hallelujah. Glory, hallelujah,” the latter of which when literally translated means, “Praise Yahweh.”
But then he said, most likely to again incorporate the theme of unity, “In the strong name of our collective faith, amen.”
Riccardi shared his thoughts about the prayer on social media Wednesday evening.
“We do not petition the Father in the name of our faith. Our faith is worthless apart from the object in which it trusts,” Riccardi wrote. “To come before God in the name of our faith is to come before God in our own name, which is blasphemous, idolatrous, and hopeless for those who do not possess the infinite righteousness required for fellowship with God.”
He said that God accepts nothing less than coming to Him in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
“Instead, those who would hope to receive anything from the Father must come to Him in the name of Christ His Son, for all the promises of God are yes in Him alone,” Riccardi outlined. “And coming before God in the name of Christ — who has accomplished the infinite righteousness required for fellowship with God — in union with Him we are heard for Christ’s sake.”
“Our prayers before the Father — the holiest of which are laced with enough sin to damn the entire human race for eternity — are thus sanctified in the sweet name of God’s dear Son, and received as a sweet smelling aroma of the sacrifice of His own precious blood,” he said.
1 Timothy 2:5 states, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 96:5 also teaches, “For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”
The late Anglican preacher J.C. Ryle also once said, “Live a courageous life. Confess Christ before men. Whatever station you occupy, in that station confess Christ. Why should you be ashamed of Him? He was not ashamed of you on the cross.”
“He is ready to confess you now before His Father in Heaven. Why should you be ashamed of Him? Be bold. Be very bold. The good soldier is not ashamed of his uniform. The true believer ought never be ashamed of Christ.”