President Obama’s Christianity…

September 30, 2010 at 2:12 PM 14 comments

Recently, President Obama made statements about his religious beliefs.  Since he made them public, it is certainly permissible to comment on them.  On the heels of stating that “Islam is not the problem, Al Queda is the problem,” Obama defines for us, his own particular viewpoint of Christianity.  How does it stand up to the Christianity of the Bible?  Let’s see…

We know that President Obama spent 20 or so years in a church that is based largely on Black Liberation Theology (Trinity United Church of Christ, with Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.).  I don’t want to take the time to explain that, but feel free to look that up as there are plenty of places on the ‘Net.  Suffice it to say that to the Black Liberationist, Christianity is a means by which the Black person frees themselves from the rule of others, mainly whites.  We also know that President Obama stated that converting to Christianity was his choice.  We must remember that the Christianity he converted to was the one taught by Reverend Wright.  Wright is also known for his anti-American statements based on race.  Things that have come out of Rev. Wright’s mouth have been by some accounts, vicious.  Beyond this, his church apparently gave their top award to an avowed anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, from the Nation of Islam.

All of this plays into President Obama’s version of Christianity, and it is from this perspective that we begin to understand what he means when he says that he is a Christian.  President Obama points to Christ’s death as the epitome of humility.  He stated, “understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful, and we’re flawed, and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God.”  This is certainly all well and good, but it does not say enough.  President Obama is anything but stupid.  He tends too often to speak like a lawyer because of his training.  Combine that with the fact that he is a politician, and you have him saying things that can be interpreted any number of ways, just like he did when he ran for office.

In actual fact, Jesus’ death did not speak to the fact that we all have to be humble.  It speaks to the fact that we are unable to save ourselves and therefore must depend upon and submit ourselves to Him in order to receive salvation.  I do not see this understanding in President Obama’s statement.  What he seems to have done is taken Christ’s death and turned it into something that is a social statement, not a spiritual statement.  Because of that, he seems to have missed the point entirely.

President Obama also stated, “I think my public service is a part of that effort to express my Christian faith.”  I’m not sure how the two equate really, especially given his public service record.  He is pro-abortion to the core.  He seems to walk around the law at will.  He completely ignores the will of the people in making his decisions.  He has ties with known terrorists.  We are not even sure if he has a legal right to be president, yet this is part of the record that he holds up to prove that he is a Christian.

Regarding how he lives, he stated that he since he believes he is”…my brother’s and sister’s keeper, treating others as they would treat me” is the way to go.  Of course, that is from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount and yes, Jesus was talking about how to live our lives.  But Jesus stated much more than this as not only the gospels, but the epistles bear out as well.  Christianity is not a social experiment.  It is not teaching people to adopt ways of life that make it easier for others to live.  Certainly, in some cases, that may be part of it, but Christianity at its root, is a spiritual transaction.

The third chapter of the gospel of John is where we see Jesus talking with Nicodeums.  Nicodemus is a Pharisee, one of the religious leaders of the time.  He was obviously curious about Jesus and drawn to Him.  Something within his own life resonated when he heard Jesus speak.  When Nicodemus was around Him, something pricked at his conscious.  He needed greater understanding so he went in search of Jesus and found in, under cover of night.

In this third chapter, Jesus speaks of being “born again,” or “born from above” as being necessary for salvation.  This confused Nicodemus who had no clue what it meant.  Jesus chides him for his lack of understanding given that he is a religious teacher to the nation of Israel.

Jesus points out that unless there is a second birth, there is no salvation at all.  However, this second birth provides the individual with salvation, which equates to eternal life.  Once given, it cannot be rescinded.  When this second birth occurs, several things happen.  The Holy Spirit comes to indwell the person and also seals that individual unto the day of redemption.  In other words, the seal as Paul states in Romans, is a guarantee of the full inheritance that we will receive after this life is over.

I realize there are those who (in my opinion) mock God by believing that salvation can be lost.  I also realize that there are those who (in my opinion) mock God by easy-believism, thinking that salvation is merely a life insurance policy against hell, but life can be lived however now.  Both of these viewpoints (in my opinion) are completely erroneous.

In the former, someone or something would have to be strong enough to break the seal of the Holy Spirit.  Since the Holy Spirit is God, I know of no one who can overcome Him.  Some though believe that the Christian can simply choose to walk away and that God would do nothing to stop that individual.  This is absurd and is not Scriptural, at least that I can find.  The parable of the Prodigal Son does not prove this point at all.  The point Jesus was making there is completely different.

All that aside though, it should be clear that salvation is a spiritual transaction, not a social one.  It is something that happens within us based on our faith in who Jesus Christ is and what He has accomplished for us.  It is from that vantage point that our life becomes new and things change.  We have then entered the process of having our lives remolded into the image and character of Jesus Christ.  The process continues throughout the remainder of our life only to culminate in the next life, after death.

What President Obama has explained is merely a way of doing things or looking at things.  Anyone can adopt a different outlook on life.  Anyone can opt to decide to start doing things differently from how they were done prior.  Alcoholics can choose to work toward freedom from being controlled by alcohol.  People can quit smoking cigarettes, or do what it takes to become drug free. 

While these are good in themselves, they do not equal salvation because they are all done from the outside of the person.  In other words, a person sees something in themselves they want to change, so they do what they can to adopt an attitude that will bring that about.  When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within the person and causes the changes necessary to come about.  He may do this in any number of ways, such as through chastisement, external situations that force the person on their knees, through the efficacy of Scripture, or other ways besides.

Whether people like to hear this or not, what President Obama was referring to is the Golden Rule (treat others and you yourself wish to be treated).  While this is an excellent way to live, ultimately, it is merely a way to live.  In and of itself, the Golden Rule does not provide salvation to a person.  It can only tell a person how to live.

Moreover, who among us can actually live the Golden Rule all the time?  No one can.  If we could we would not need salvation.  It is because we cannot live it 100% of the time that a need remains in our life.  Christ said these things to cause people to look at themselves seriously and to take stock of themselves.  It is only when we come to the realization that we are completely unable to live the Golden Rule 100% of the time as Jesus Himself did, that we begin to understand that Jesus is saying “Since you cannot live the Golden Rule all the time without any discrepancy, then you need something that will allow you to live it.  That something is salvation.”

Salvation through Jesus Christ provides the impetus and ability to live the Golden Rule, however, in the remaining time of our earthly life, we will not live it perfectly.  The one thing that salvation does not do is remove the sin nature.  That is what fights against us until we die, when at that point, Jesus will remove it from us forever.

I don’t see any of this in President Obama’s definition of Christianity.  I do not see that he truly understands what it means to be a Christian.  What he presents is a watered-down, liberal, socialistic form of something he calls Christianity.  It simply does not stand up to the truth of Scripture.

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14 Comments

  • 1. Don Strand  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Hi Modres,
    Yes we could discuss this until the cows come home, but I agree, to what end. Neither of us will be moved, and both of us are saved. I rejoice in that as well as the ministry you so ably provide. I am glad you are in God’s family with me. I applaude your civility and carefully considered responses in the foregoing discussion, for it is not always the case in matters of soteriology. My heartfelt blessing as you continue in your ministry. It is a great and wonderful God we serve indeed.

    Blessings,
    Don Strand

    • 2. modres  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:33 PM

      Hey Joe,

      Thanks for your kind words and the feeling is mutual from me to you. I tend to think that the enemy tries to detract Christians into pointless debates because they pull us away from the main thing that our Lord commanded us be involved in – the Great Commission.

      Don’t get me wrong…I’m all for discussing things. But in most cases, it can too easily turn into a quarrel. You and I – though we may disagree on various aspects of Soteriology – agree that salvation is by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone. I will defer to Him for the details as to whether He provides faith or whether He opens my eyes to the truth, which awakens my faith. In either case, all credit is God’s alone. Amen.

      Thanks for your good wishes and your prayers for me. My best to you as well.

      In Christ,
      Fred

  • 3. Don Strand  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Thanks for your response. You are right in saying that I am speaking of the idea that regeneration preceeds repentance and confession of Christ as Savior and, without God first moving to regenerate the sinner’s heart, there can be no saving faith. Augustine codified this Biblical doctrine as “prevenient grace”, and although you don’t agree with it, the doctrine has deep roots in the OT and is further clarified throughout the NT.

    These OT roots are precisely why Jesus speaks of being born of water and Spirit to Nicodemus. He is not referring to baptism, but to Ez 36:25-27. J.I. Packer rightly identifies Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus as rooted in Ezekiel, “where God is pictured as symbolically cleansing persons from sin’s pollution (by water) and bestowing a “new heart” by putting his Spirit within them. Because this is so explicit, Jesus chides Nicodemus, “Israel’s teacher,” for not understanding how new birth happens (John 3:9-10). Jesus’ point throughout is that there is no exercise of faith in himself as the supernatural Savior, no repentance, and no true discipleship apart from this new birth.
    Elsewhere John teaches that belief in the Incarnation and Atonement, with faith and love, holiness and righteousness, is the fruit and proof that one is born of God (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4). It thus appears that as there is no conversion without new birth, so there is no new birth without conversion.”

    While the Hebrews 6 passage has had no small amount of exegesis effort applied to understanding this text, it must be considered in the overall context of the letter. The writer of Hebrews sets this warning in context parallel to those who during the Exodus deliberately sinned and were destroyed. It is a stern warning, but nowhere does the writer of Hebrews attribute apostacy to his hearers. This can be seen in the changing from first and second person pronouns (we and you) in He 5:11-6:3 which preceed the warning in He 6:4-6, and the following passages of 6:9-12, and the pronouns “those” and “they” in vss 4-6. Could this be that those mentioned in vss 4-6 are a different group? People who confessed, tasted and experienced life in the church without genuine, God given regeneration? The writer is not clear. However, when this passage is considered in the light of clearer passages of of backsliding vs apostasy such as 1 Jn 3:9-10; 4:7-8; 5:1; in light of the biblical teaching that the first move of God is regeneration of the sinner’s heart, not the sinner’s faith, such as Jn 6:37-39, 44, 63-65; 8:43-47; 10:25-29; 13:18; 15:16 and 17:9 and in the light of the perseverance of God’s elect, Jn 6:51, 58; Ro 8:29-30; 35-39 and 1 Jn 2:19, it becomes clear that the writer of Hebrews is not talking about true faith being abandoned, for it cannot; it is the work of the Sovereign God.
    In 1 Jn 2, John clearly teaches that false teachers would arise in the church, but would eventually apostatize from the faith and leave. Their departure would give evidence that they were never converted. Isn’t this what the writer of Hebrews tells us in 3:14; that the future and final perseverance is the ultimate test of a past participation in Christ? I think this is so. While the warnings in Heb 6 and similar warnings in 3:12-14; 4:1 and 12:16-17, 25 sound like faith can be lost, the overwhelming witness of Scripture is that it cannot be. For it is based on the work of Christ in redemption and the grace of God in applying faith through the work of the Holy Spirit which brings true confession, repentance and growing faith in sanctification.
    Prevenient grace, how sweet the sound!

    Blessings,
    Don Strand

    J. I. Packer, Concise Theology : A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1995).

    • 4. modres  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:02 PM

      Hi Don,

      Of course you realize that we can discuss this until the cows come home and neither one of us will be moved. I’d rather agree to disagree, though I think we can safely say that we agree that salvation is completely a work of God and we can probably leave it there. I really think that in most cases, this type of debate is probably pointless.

      Regarding Augustine, he also had some interesting theological insight into Eschatology which the Roman Catholic Church adopted and with which I completely disagree. Just because someone is closer to the first century does not necessarily mean they are correct. Many church fathers did not agree with each other on significant aspects of soteriology, eschatology, and other areas as well.

      Beyond this, there is the entire viewpoint of salvation and the various aspects of it. For instance, some believe in the Calvinistic form of salvation (or that which is labeled Calvinist), and that which is called Arminianism. Of course, the latter adheres to a form of universal prevenient grace and conditional election. The former is known for TULIP.

      The tragedy is that those within the Calvinistic school of thought refer to Arminians as heretics, and visa versa. These aspects of salvation have been literally debated for centuries and there is no consensus today.

      You reference Packer and someone else comes along and references someone else who disagrees with Packer or you. They might use the same Scripture and argue a different point.

      For me, the reality is that salvation is God’s work, period. Whether or not God grants me prevenient grace or not is really not the issue. The issue is whether or not a person actually has experienced a true and authentic spiritual transaction, which makes them an authentic Christian as opposed to merely a professing one.

  • 5. Don Strand  |  February 9, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    I don’t think you have John 3 completely right. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6, ESV). Jesus is clearly pointing to the fact that like our physical birth, our spiritual birth has nothing to do with our efforts. It is the (capital “S”) Spirit which gives birth to our (small “s”) spirit. This is the beginning of faith (cf. Eph. 2:8-9); the gift to us by God’s grace. When you state, “It is something that happens within us based on our faith in who Jesus Christ is and what He has accomplished for us”, this conflicts with what Jesus said to Nicodemus. The “spiritual transaction” that takes place is not “based on our faith”, instead, the spiritual transaction of being born again is God implanting faith in us who were formerly dead in sin and trespasses (Col 2:13) and unable to seek God (Ro 3:10-12; cf. Ps 14:1-3; 53:1-3). This is the beginning of our salvation, regeneration of our spirit by the monergistic move of God to bring us to spiritual life and repentence. As you rightly state, since this is a work of God and by His Spirit, it is something that has happened to us and cannot be lost (Jn 6:37, 39). The fact that our salvation is through the faith given to us by God, and not something of ourselves that makes it, and our continued belief incorruptable and imperishible (1 Pt 1:4, 23).

    Respectfully, Don Strand

    • 6. modres  |  February 9, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      Hi Don,

      It sounds to me like you are defining “prevenient grace,” which I do not agree with. What I’m talking about is the fact that God opens our eyes to the truth. Our response to that truth is the difference between salvation or no salvation.

      This is what I believe the writer of Hebrews is speaking of in Hebrews 6. The writer seems to be referring to individuals who have been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift. They saw the truth, but ultimately instead of embracing it, rejected it.

      Had the thief on the cross seen the truth and NOT followed through in faith believing that Jesus was who He said He was, no salvation would have been granted. It is the truth that God provides, which provides us the opportunity to embrace that truth in faith.

      Salvation is completely a work of God from start to finish. The only requirement on our part is to embrace that truth related to salvation by faith. People have debated the issue for centuries. You say God grants that faith and I say that faith comes alive within us when God reveals His truth to us.

      Thanks for your comments, Don.

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  • 8. Bob  |  October 21, 2010 at 5:26 AM

    President Obama believes that his own salvation is tied to “collective salvation, “And recognizing that my fate remain tied up with their fates, that my individual salvation is not going to come about without a collective salvation for the country.” This is certainly not Biblical. President has a form of Christianity but it is not true Christianity.

  • 9. Jane  |  October 20, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    God help us in our working to bring rebel believers back to their rightful place and to live a righteous life of obedience thanks to God’s grace. We must not lose our country to evil. Repent and turn back to God before it’s too late. Let’s hear from Heaven.

  • 10. Elizabeth  |  October 19, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    Thank you for what you have said. It is what I believe too.
    I live in Australia and struggle to watch (in fact I can’t) Obama when he comes on TV. I believe he is Muslim and not Christian.

  • 11. Jim Lewis  |  October 19, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    “You have not chosen me….I have chosen you”. So much for easy believerism and those who choose the Lord Jesus Christ from amongst others. Ignorance of the Christian faith can be laid at the feet of those who do not teach the word of Truth.

    • 12. modres  |  October 19, 2010 at 9:12 PM

      Jim,

      If you could clarify your comment, that would be appreciated. I agree with you if you are saying that easy-believisim is a worthless position to hold. However, I also do not believe that salvation can be lost once gained. I am not clear on your actual position, so please clarify when you get an extra moment.

  • 13. Mike Wannenburg  |  October 7, 2010 at 7:47 AM

    I have just spent one month touring the USA and pray that your country will wake up. Listening to the TV there is a deliberate effort to belittle people who still believe in the old old story of Jesus and the good news of salvation. May the coming mid term elections be a turning point otherwise it might be to late to save you in the end. Islam has her eyes firmly set on the USA. Make no mistake.

    • 14. modres  |  October 7, 2010 at 8:05 AM

      Some of us are all too aware of what you are saying. Too many in America seem to be asleep at the wheel. The duplicity that comes from politicians, the White House and the media is frightening. Thanks for your comments.


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