Last week I wrote a post called I Don’t Care If the President’s a Muslim (If you haven’t read it, please do so before jumping to conclusions based on the title!). In it, I said that I thought Barak Obama was nothing but a nominal Christian, which, to me, is worse than being a Muslim. Over the weekend I came across the transcript of an old 2004 interview with then State Senator Obama, during which he spoke at great length about his faith. Read the interview here.
Let me pull out just a few quotes that lend credence to the charge that our president is at best a nominal Christian, if not an outright universalist.
“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.”
If that “same place” is meant to be Heaven or salvation, this is a very un-Christian thing to say. According to the Bible, there is only one path, one door that leads to salvation (Matthew 7:14; Luke 13:24) and it’s Jesus (John 14:6; John 10:9).
- “My grandmother was Methodist. My grandfather was Baptist…by the time I was born, they were, I think, my grandparents had joined a Universalist church.”
- “My mother, who I think had as much influence on my values as anybody, was not someone who wore her religion on her sleeve. We’d go to church for Easter. She wasn’t a church lady.”
- “My mother was a deeply spiritual person, and would spend a lot of time talking about values and give me books about the world’s religions, and talk to me about them. And I think always, her view always was that underlying these religions were a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself but also for the greater good.”
Obama seems to credit much of his Christian faith to his mother and her relatives, yet that family’s religious background is a mixed bag of world religions, nominal Christianity, and universalism.
“I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I’m not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I’ve got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others… I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.”
On prayer: “I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I’m constantly asking myself questions about what I’m doing, why am I doing it.”
I hope that his “ongoing conversation with God” is not referring to the questions he’s asking himself…
“And so, the biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass. Those are the conversations I’m having internally. I’m measuring my actions against that inner voice that for me at least is audible, is active, it tells me where I think I’m on track and where I think I’m off track.”
Is this “inner voice” the Holy Spirit, or does he simply “follow his heart” (which is deceitful and desperately wicked – Jeremiah 17:9)?
This next interaction is key:
“This is something that I’m sure I’d have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell.”
“You don’t believe that?”
“I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world 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.”
Yes, Mr. Obama. There IS a call to evangelize (Matthew 28:18-20) precisely because everyone on earth is wicked and deserves Hell (Romans 3:23). God does not desire that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and has provided for us a Savior who made a way for us to be saved apart from our works (Titus 3:4-7), but there is a limit to his patience. The day of His wrath WILL come (2 Peter 3:10), and those who do not know him will face God’s righteous judgment without an Advocate (Hebrews 9:27-28; 10:26-31). Though salvation is a free gift (Romans 6:23), there are few who will find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
On whether there is a heaven: “What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.”
Christians DO have knowledge of what happens after we die. Our reward is not based on living “life as well as I can”, but on diligently seeking God (Hebrews 11:6). This eternal reward is not in the “here and now”, but in a very real Heaven (Luke 6:23). If not, our faith is in vain, and we are the most pitiful people in the world (1 Corinthians 15:19). Mr. Obama would know this if he read his Bible, but…
These days I don’t have much time for reading or reflection, period… I probably need to and would like to [read the Bible and pray], but that’s where that internal monologue, or dialogue I think supplants my opportunity to read and reflect in a structured way these days.
Nothing can supplant the importance of hearing from God (Matthew 4:4).
Obama’s description of sin: “Being out of alignment with my values.”
Sin is not based on our values, but on God’s nature. When we try to find our own way, it leads to death (Proverbs 16:25).
On his spiritual inspiration: “A good choir and a good sermon in the black church, it’s pretty hard not to be moved and be transported. I can be transported by watching a good performance of Hamlet, or reading Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, or listening to Miles Davis.”
So Shakespeare, Toni Morrison, and Miles Davis are given equal spiritual footing with the preaching of God’s Word (which may or may not have actually happened in the churches Obama has attended) and the worship of His people?
An example of a role model who combined everything he wanted to do in his life and in his faith: “I think Gandhi is a great example of a profoundly spiritual man who acted and risked everything on behalf of those values but never slipped into intolerance or dogma. He seemed to always maintain an air of doubt about him.”
Gandhi was a polytheistic Hindu. He may have been “profoundly spiritual”, but he was also a profound, unrepentent sinner, who would probably love to correct the President’s view of the afterlife right about now… but it wouldn’t do any good even if it was possible (Luke 16:19-31).
I could go on, but suggest you read the entire interview yourself. It’s very enlightening… a very well conducted interview.