A New Twist on the “Is Obama a Christian?” Debate

obama-church2.jpgThe “Is Obama a Christian?” discussion is starting up again, this time not by people who suspect he’s a Muslim but those who think he’s a phony follower of Jesus Christ. The occasion for this is the posting on Beliefnet of an interview he gave to the Chicago Sun Times in 2004, while he was still an Illinois state senator. 

Conservative Christians have taken his religious views as proof he’s not a real Christian, but there’s support from a more liberal corner for his views.
That there is disagreement isn’t really a surprise. Theologians have been debating who is a Christian almost since the dawn of the faith and still dispute where the dividing lines lie. What is more interesting is that critics are picking apart his views — or purported views — on theological issues that have no obvious importance for his job as president.
Bloggers Joe Carter and Rod Dreher read in Obama’s interview a denial of the Nicene Creed since he called Jesus “a bridge between God and man” rather than clearly saying he is the Son of God (hat tip to Steve Waldman). “Unless Obama was being incredibly and uncharacteristically inarticulate, this is heterodox. You cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense and deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. You just can’t,” Dreher writes. Has Obama denied the divinity of Jesus Christ here? That’s not clear here. Another point that Carter notes is that he doesn’t believe that people who have not embraced Jesus as their personal saviour will automatically go to hell. “I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That’s just not part of my religious makeup,” he said.
Elsewhere on its site, Beliefnet quotes a prominent Catholic theologian saying the same thing: “…Everything we believe about God, and everything we know about man, prevents us from accepting that beyond the limits of the Church there is no more salvation … We are no longer ready and able to think that our neighbor, who is a decent and respectable man and in many ways better than we are, should be eternally damned simply because he is not a Catholic. We are no longer ready, no longer willing, to think that eternal corruption should be inflicted on people in Asia, in Africa, or wherever it may be, merely on account of their not having “Catholic” marked in their passport.” This came from none other than a certain Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI. The quote is from 1964, from the young Ratzinger, and is not what he would say today. But even he said it back then and many theologians would agree with Obama’s view today.
As Waldman points out, it’s a view that George Bush would also agree with. And apparently with him many Christians as well:”millions and millions of people call themselves Christian, worship at Christian churches and believe that acceptance of Christ is not required for entry into heaven. In a recent Pew poll, 70% said ‘many religions can lead to eternal life.’ 66% of Protestants and 79% of Catholics said they agreed with that idea.”
Over at the Episcopal Café blog The Lead, blogger JB Chilton reprints reprints Obama’s answer about his suspicion of dogma and cautious turn towards faith and says: “Sounds like a good Episcopalian. The Episcopal Church welcomes you.”
Do you think it’s important to know exactly which Christian teachings the president-elect embraces and which ones he doesn’t, even if they have no relevance to his performance in the White House?
Source: Reuters
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One Comment on “A New Twist on the “Is Obama a Christian?” Debate”


  1. This is not a new twist.

    “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” II John verse 9

    The doctrine of Christ, I think we can all agree is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, and that doctrine is that there is but one way to receive salvation unto the Lord and eternal life, Christ Jesus and Him crucified. So that when Mr. Obama says:

    “So, I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.”

    It is appropriate to pray for Mr. Obama’s salvation based on his own statement of faith. Many people are rooted in the traditions of the Christian faith that are not Christian. Anyone who lives they’re lives avoiding breaking the ten commandments as best they can could be said to be rooted in the Christian faith. But the dividing line is our acceptance of Christ as the only path to God. In fact proclaiming many paths to God would be the very definition of preaching another gospel, and a transgression according to the above scripture. Which leads us to verses 10,11 which state:

    “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

    This scripture goes on to call the denial of the doctrine of Christ, in other words the gospel of many paths to the same place, an evil deed. So anyone who denies the primacy of Christ should not be bidden God speed,

    This is the prayer I wrote and prayed on my blog November 5th, the day after the election:

    I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. I Timothy 2:1-6

    In the spirit of the above scripture, I offer this prayer for President Elect Obama:

    Oh Lord, I praise your name and pray your will be done. I thank you for placing me in the greatest nation on earth, a nation which you have blessed abundantly. I ask that you put a hedge of protection around President Obama and his family, that you grant him good health and happiness. I pray; oh Lord, that you bestow upon him wisdom and courage as he discharges his duties as America’s commander in chief. I also pray that you change his heart, so that he turns from his ungodly positions, and that he gives his support to Israel. Most of all, I pray that he comes to a personal relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ, the Christ of the Holy Bible, and not the one of his imagination, not the one that allows him to advocate for what you have called sin. Knowing that you are no respecter of persons, It is in your Son’s holy name that I offer this prayer. Amen.

    Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
    II John 9-11

    In the spirit of the above scripture, and in light of President Obama’s belief that their are many paths to God; which would constitute a doctrine other than the doctrine of Christ, I therefore cannot bid Mr. Obama God speed. He needs faith not tradition.”

    Digital Publius


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