Friday, October 24, 2008

Is Barack Obama a Christian?

It has been suggested that I shouldn't blog on this subject. That I was only asking for trouble. And the truth is, I have friends on both sides of the aisle and will likely receive some criticism from them. However, I feel it's an important subject and it's a subject where I have something to say. I typically shy away from religion and politics, but this time I'm going to tackle both at the same time.

As I've done on some past controversial subjects, I'll do this as a multi-part series. First I want to address the issue from a pro-Obama standpoint, to explain why Obama says he is a Christian. Second, I'll address the reasons some people question his faith. And then I'll assert my opinion in the final post. Of course, I won't limit my opinion totally to the last post, I'll interject comments along the way. And I encourage you to interject comments as well.

One difference between this series and previous series is that I intend to write all three parts before I post the first. It's not that your comments won't sway my opinion, it's just that I want to get my thoughts down and make sure they're consistent first. I'll still do some editing on parts 2 & 3 after part 1.

I must start out with some opinion. Basically, it's this - if Obama says something about his beliefs, I HAVE to accept it as truth. Oh, I could think "well, he said this, but he really meant this instead." I can (and will) point to inconsistencies that I find, but if he says he believes the sky is green and the grass is blue, I have to believe that he really believes that. Otherwise, I'd be wasting pixels on the screen and precious bytes of storage.

That said, the key point for determining Sen. Obama's faith issues is his 6/28/06 keynote
address to the "Call to Renewal". (The entire speech can be found here) It's a speech he has referenced several times and his campaign still references. The senator was speaking to a group committed to establishing policies to bridge social and political issues. (see here) The senator offered "some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments that we've been seeing over the last several years."

In his speech, Senator Obama said "Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds ... and they're coming to the realization that something is missing." Those of us who are born-again will quickly point out that what is missing is Jesus Christ. As has been often said, we are all born with a God sized hole in our hearts, that only God can fill. Today, "thousands of Americans" are seeking a way to fill that hole.

Senator Obama came to realize this himself. After his college years, he worked with churches and recognized what was going on there in people's lives. He also realized that he didn't have what they had. He said "in time, I came to realize that something was missing as well -- that without a vessel for my beliefs ... I would always remain apart, and alone."

One day, at the now famous (or infamous) Trinity United Church of Christ the questions and some of the answers came down on Obama and he realized he had to make a choice. In his own words "kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth."

As a Baptist, I would call that a profession of faith. Oh sure, there are other words I would have liked to have seen in there - words like "repent", confession that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He is the only Way to heaven. But when a young child accepts Christ as his savior, I accept simple words like Obama's, I can't expect more from another convert.

As usual, comments are welcome and expected. I should note that I have taken an unusual step (for me) and contacted a few individuals and asked for their specific comments. I have no idea if or when they will comment, but that doesn't preclude you from commenting now.


Brooke said...

Obama's declaration of faith may be sincere, but I have concerns about the black liberation theology taught at his church.

Randy said...

Thanks Brooke. I too have some problems with what I've heard coming out of his former church. I'll try to include some of this in the next post...

David said...

This'll probably be more relevant to the next post, but on my flight back from the Democratic Convention in Denver I sat next to a girl that had just moved to Colorado to work with a Christian company that worked with "Focus On the Family". She was really nice, but we got into a brief debate over Obama and Rev. Wright. No matter what I said about it, she always replied with "but he's the one who lead Obama to Christ".

It really disturbed me that this person apparently passed judgment over the entire congregation of the church based only on a very small portion of what the pastor did there.

I also have to think about my old church. There used to be a very good guy preaching there, but he left to take another church. After a few temporary preachers, they finally found someone to stay. Fast forward a few years and this guy decides to support a controversial constitutional amendment being considered here in the state. Thinking that the congregation will support his view, he passes around petitions supporting it in church. Not a single person signed them.

Now, several more years later, the guy is still there, but that doesn't mean they always agree with him.

Randy said...

I'll definitely put something about this in my next post. The guilt by association or guilt by pastor was something I didn't think of as I was finishing up this morning.

I'm curious, roughly how old was the girl?

David said...

In her mid-twenties. She talked like she was just out of college.