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Saturday, September 19, 2015

What is this thing called "Christian"?

CNN recently released a story about Obama's faith. The title was Misperceptions persist about Obama's faith. Then came bruhaha over Donald Trump (who, for the record, I in no way support) for is in trouble ... get this ... for not saying something. At a rally in New Hampshire a questioner asked him about what he would do as president about terrorist training camps. He answered (with a typical politician's non-answer -- "We're going to do plenty of things."). He's not in trouble for that. He's in trouble because before the question the questioner included, in his preface, the claims that Obama was a Muslim and was not born in this country. Trump didn't take him to task over these. Trump was wrong. The two-faced Hillary Clinton (whose campaign in 2008 released photos of Obama in a burka and questioned his birthplace) said that his failure to denounce the false statements is "disturbing & just plain wrong." Bernie Sanders said, "I think that's a disgrace, to again question whether or not the president of the United States was born in this country and whether he's a Christian." Chris Christie said he was certain that Obama was not a Muslim because he was certain that he was a Christian. What would Christie have done? "I would correct them and say, 'No, the president is a Christian and he was born in this country. I mean, those two things are self-evident."

I'm not defending Trump. (I can't believe anyone like him remains in the race, let alone leads any polls at all. Says a lot about the state of the nation, and it's not good.) I'm not suggesting either that the president wasn't born in this country or that he's a Muslim. I'm fairly certain, however, that politicians and most of the rest of America hasn't a clue what "Christian" means anymore.


When asked his definition of sin, Obama defined sin as "Being out of alignment with my values." When asked if he was "born again", he answered, "Yeah ... [but] I retain ... a suspicion of dogma ... I think that religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt ... I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die."

Perhaps this kind of thing doesn't disturb you. But if "Christian" has any connection to Christ, this ought to.

Obama Jesus Christ
"I believe that there are many paths to the same place. All people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone knows the same God." "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)
"I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize." "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:19-20)
"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." "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matt 7:13-14)

I don't think the president is a Muslim. I think he's a universalist. All religions are equally valid. And that may not disturb anyone else, but when Christ disagreed with it, I'd think it would have to suggest that there is a good reason to question whether he is a Christian. Unfortunately, that word, like so many others, has so little meaning anymore that it's not an easy argument to make.


Naum said...

There's a very simple way to discern whether a school of thought comes from Jesus or from the accuser.

The first is always seeking to expand the circle of who you think is your neighbor.

The second is always seeking to expand the circle of who you think is your enemy.

Stan said...

I think I understand what you're saying ... but is "your neighbor" necessarily defined as "Christian"? (Which was the original question.) I have no doubt that those who are not Christians are still my neighbor and should be loved (although I would want to qualify that with "loved biblically" rather than today's modern version ... which means a lot of different things), but it was Jesus who said that false prophets "in sheep's clothing" would come (Matt 7:15), that we could know them by their fruits (Matt 7:20), despite their certainty that they were believers (Matt 7:21-23). It doesn't make them my enemy or not my neighbor.