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Barack Obama

Defending a Liberal from a Bible-Wielding Bully

I’ll admit it right up front – I consider myself to be a moderate. There are some areas where conservatives get it right. There are other areas where liberals get it right. It’s foolish to think that either side gets it 100% right or wrong.

But one thing that really gets my blood boiling is when a person one side seeks to tarnish (or completely strip away) the salvation of an opponent on the other side. This was just the case this week as conservative blogger Matt WalshMatt Walsh wrote a piece partially titled: It’s Incredibly Obvious That Barack Obama Isn’t a Christian.

While Mr. Walsh and I probably agree on a great many things politically, ethically, and morally, I disagree with his admitted attack on President Obama’s Christianity. I have two fundamental problems with Mr. Walsh’s attack piece. First, the beginning part of the article is superfluous and unnecessary. Mr. Walsh let’s loose with a long list of grievances that show the President’s lack of Christian faith:

– he’s part of a radical heretical sect called Black Liberation Theology
– he attacked religious freedom in America
– he “aided and abetted” persecutors of Christians overseas
– he supports same-sex marriage
– he’s dishonest
– he exploits racial tensions
– he’s generally corrupt and unwaveringly narcissistic

Mr. Walsh invokes Jesus’s words in Matthew 7:16

You will know them by their fruit

It’s quite possible that nobody ever told Mr. Walsh that reading a Bible verse requires seeing the surrounding verses as well for context. In Matthew 7:15-16 Jesus actually says:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

Do you see it there? Jesus is talking about judging and gauging prophets. He’s not talking about politicians. While there may be a general life principle about watching a person’s behavior to know who and what they are, we mustn’t tweak Jesus’s words to fit our agendas.

Then, admitting that his entire list is irrelevant, Mr. Walsh says:

He could theoretically be all those things and still be a Christian.

So there is no biblical support to back up the initial accusations. They do not stand as proof of a false Christian faith. The real issue, what Mr. Walsh is really getting to, is his intense loathing for President Obama based on Mr. Obama’s stance on abortion.

Leave all of that aside, then. The thing above all else that really reveals his true faith (or lack thereof) is his undying passion for, support of, and belief in abortion.

Mr. Walsh then unleashes a plethora of articles and facts illustrating Mr. Obama’s stance on abortion.

Plethora

Here comes my second fundamental problem with Mr. Walsh’s article. He misuses the Bible again to support his point (c’mon, this blog is about the Bible, of course that’s going to be the issue here).

Mr. Walsh “quotes” the Bible and adds his own commentary:

If anyone causes harm to these little ones, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Did you catch that? Can we all take a moment to let that one sink in (no pun intended)? You would be better off dead than harming a child. It would be wiser to literally drown in the ocean than do anything that would bring harm, whether physical or spiritual, to a child. That’s God talking. Do we think He was joking? Exaggerating? Just blowing off steam? Does he need to calm down and be reasonable, as pro-lifers are constantly told when they make statements not nearly as strident and damning?

No. This was a direct statement. A command. A promise. When you bring harm to the innocent, you commit a sin so terrible that physical death would be preferable.

Mr. Walsh is creating his own meaning to Jesus’s words. No – it goes beyond that. Mr. Walsh is putting words in Jesus’s mouth. I looked at Mark 9 in 15 different Bible versions – including my Greek New Testament, the New International Version, the King James Version, The English Standard Version, the Holman Christian Standard, heck, even the Message! I didn’t see Mr. Walsh’s version anywhere.

Because it doesn’t exist.

After Jesus’s disciples have an issue with an outsider doing exorcisms in Jesus’s name, Jesus says, “Do not forbid him…. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble….”

Jesus is NOT talking about hurting children. He’s talking about Christian behavior damaging the faith of other believers.

It is dishonest (perhaps unintentionally) to use this passage to promote a pro-life agenda, AND I SAY THIS AS A PRO-LIFE SUPPORTER. Jesus gave no direct statement, command, or promise about abortion or hurting children. Abortion existed thousands of years ago but there was still no direct command against it.

I personally believe that a high view of human life being created in the image of God should lead people away from abortion, but don’t put words in Jesus’s mouth.

So let’s get down to brass tacks. The Bible DOES talk about faith and salvation.

Peter preaches, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

A jailer asks Paul, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul answers, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

We’re never called to hold to certain political positions in order to be saved. It’s about faith in Jesus. That means that, though we may not like it, there is a WIDE variety of people and political ideologies that still fall under the umbrella of Christianity.

We may not like a person’s position. We may feel that they are downright wrong. But we don’t have the ability to revoke someone’s salvation because they differ from us on issues. C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity
that we don’t have the ability to say a person is or isn’t a Christian. We are not the judge of hearts. All we can say is that a person’s behavior doesn’t seem to align with what we think Christian behavior ought to be (forgive the paraphrase, I can’t find the exact reference right now).

I am pro-life.

I will not destroy the salvation of someone who disagrees with me, even though I personally believe that abortion destroys the human created in God’s image. Even on the big issues, salvation is still about Jesus. That’s it. The closer we walk with Jesus the more our morals and values will align with his, but we’re all in different places in our spiritual growth and development.

In the end, I’ll let God determine whose faith is authentic and who is merely faking it.

That’s kind of his job anyways – not mine.

_ _ _ _ _

I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

Our Heathen President

seal

I am calling upon all Christians everywhere (well, at least in God’s special promised land of America) to fire up the Christian Outrage Machine.

Let’s be honest, we were a little concerned what we’d be outraged about once A&E brought Phil back to filming Duck Dynasty. But never fear, new outrage is here!

It goes back to the religious practices (or lack thereof) of the Commander in Chief, President Obama. You see, people who really care about such things have discovered that he’s only been to church 18 times since taking office!

Only 18 times!

That averages almost 4 times a year.

Can you believe that guy? How can he claim to be a Christian and “forsake the fellowship of believers”? You would think that a true Christian president would be in church every Sunday. You would think that a true Christian president wouldn’t act like the majority of Christians in America, who all attend church services fewer than 12 times a year (less than once a month).

No, a Christian president should be better than us. He should be in church more than we are. He should pray more frequently than we do. He should read his Bible daily and have a good chunk of it memorized.

It’s almost as though he has forgotten the righteousness received from the Holy Sanctuary and would rather live a Romans 3:21-26 kind of life ~

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of theglory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.

Oh, well. I guess he’ll learn on Judgment Day when God checks his church attendance record. As a Christian Nation we need to rise up against this president’s mentality. We need to show him and teach him a lesson. So, in order to make our statement loud and clear, let’s be in church every Sunday in 2014.

That’ll teach our heathen president a lesson. So I’ll see you Sunday.

Right…?

How Can a Real Christian Support Abortion?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In a recent blog post I made the case that, contrary to some extreme Evangelical positions, Barack Obama is not the AntiChrist. You can read the original post here:

Quick summation: The President has publicly claimed that he is a Christian. The Bible makes the point that the antichrist will be self-promoting and deny that Jesus is the Christ. The end result is that, while people may be unhappy with the president and his policies, we are in no position to judge his faith.

What really got me was one of the comments someone left on that post. Someone asked:

How can a real Christian support abortion?

The question really made me stop and realize that this country needs to have an honest conversation about what makes a Christian. No, not just about what makes a Christian—about what makes a REAL Christian. It seems that some people have a belief that there is a difference between a real Christian and a fake Christian and that it is possible to discern the difference based on the political and/or ethical positions one does or does not support.

So what makes a Christian?

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Simply put, it is our faith in Jesus Christ that restores us to right relationship with God (that’s what Evangelicals mean when we say “saved”). Left to ourselves we end up breaking our connection to Him. Our faith in Jesus restores that relationship. What makes a Christian? Someone who has faith that Jesus is the Christ (the anointed one).

For millennia the Christian Church has held to the Apostles’ Creed, the set of beliefs that unifies Christians regardless of denominational differences. The Creed contains the “biggies” that unite us despite our differences. The Creed states:

I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Did you see it? The part in there about real Christians vs. fake Christians and politics and ethics? No?

That’s because it’s not there. It’s not in the Bible. It’s not in the Church’s historic Creeds. Salvation is God’s gift of grace through our faith – it’s not something that can be earned by doing the right things or by avoiding the wrong things.

Dang. This means that salvation is much broader than we would like it to be! This means that we can’t throw derogatory labels on others simply because they hold to positions that we think are wrong.

Don’t misunderstand me – I personally believe that life (inside or outside the womb) is precious and should not be taken lightly. I don’t favor abortions. At the same time, we should be highly uncomfortable labeling someone as a fake Christian simply because we disagree with them on matters of politics or ethics.

Good Christians with good intentions can still disagree with each other. We get too caught up on what a real Christian looks like that we stop acting like Christ towards those with whom we disagree! Even in disagreement we can remain civil and behave decently towards each other.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that it is not possible for us to look at another Christian and judge their faith based on their behavior. At the MOST all we can say is that we don’t believe their behavior aligns with that which we consider to be Christian behavior. We give in to un-Christian impulses when we say, “Real Christians don’t support….” It’s not about ethical positions.

Because in the end the only position that has eternal consequence is our position before the cross.

Is Barack Obama the Antichrist?

...and even now is already in the world.
…and even now is already in the world.

Is Barack Obama the Antichrist?

No.

He is not.

This is one of those conversations I wish we didn’t even need to be having. Yet here we are. I can’t believe the amount of hatred I’ve seen directed against President Obama. And yes, I’ve seen many accuse him of being the Antichrist.

But he’s not. In fact, the Bible barely makes mention of any single person being a mega-villain, end of the world, apocalyptic Antichrist. There is one paragraph in 2 Thessalonians that refers to the “man of lawlessness” but it is vague in typical apocalyptic style and is not even close to a description of President Obama.

For the most part, the supervillain antichrist is the stuff of Christian fiction (that means it’s made up out of a writer’s imagination as opposed to non-fiction which is literature that is true, like history, biography, science, etc.). It’s not even good Christian fiction at that. It gives us this image of Nicolae, a super-evil dude who is the epitome of all things evil who ushers in the end of the world and the eventual reign of Christ.

Fiction.

Not real.

The Bible does talk about antichrist, but probably not in the way you think:

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:18, 22)

John did not consider there to be a single cataclysmic figure, but established that many who oppose Christ are already in the world. Rather than a personal villain, John sees the antichrist as anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (Anointed One or Messiah). If that’s our criteria for antichrist then John was right – many antichrists have come. And I’m sure many more will come.

John continues:

Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:3)

We don’t have to wait for the antichrist to come. It’s not some far-off distant event. John said nearly 2000 years ago that the spirit was already in the world. Stop waiting for that apocalyptic, Hollywood villain.

Now as to Mr. Obama specifically – he has publically declared that he is a Christian, a believer in Jesus. If he is not denying that Jesus is Christ then Mr. Obama cannot be the antichrist. It seems like pretty clear logic to me.

So what is our beef with Mr. Obama? It seems that we’ve taken our political animosity and clothed it in religious terms and ideas. We’re not happy with how he runs the government. We’re not content with his direction and vision for the future. So we take our political unrest and couch it in apocalyptic language. This is detrimental on several levels:

  1. It does not allow for genuine political discourse. Any time someone uses the God-card it immediately shuts down conversation. I knew a guy one time who told me that God told him that he was supposed to leave our college and move to the northwest. What can you say to that? “No, God didn’t tell you that.” The God-card is a conversation ender. It’s used by angry, political Christians. Instead, let’s actually talk about ideas and policies. Let’s use our words to express why we are upset about the vision and direction of the government. Then let’s use our citizenship to affect change through our voting.
  2. It perpetuates bad theology. The Bible never talks about a single antichrist villain. The idea that there is one big baddie who is the binary opposite to Jesus is bad theology. There is no power that is equal to God. The idea of polar opposites is dualism. It’s not Christian faith. Instead of looking for one person to usher in the end of the world, let’s focus on living kingdom lives here and now. Jesus preached, “Change your way of thinking, for the kingdom of heaven is here and now.”
  3. It damages Christian credibility in this world. How can people take us seriously if we’re running off at the mouth putting spiritual villain labels on any politician we don’t like?

We have to take Mr. Obama at his word when he says that he is a Christian. Who are we to disagree? We don’t know his heart or his relationship with God. Stop using faith as a catapult for your political ammo.

Is Barack Obama the antichrist.

No. He is not.

Obama, Christianity and Immigration Reform

Image courtesy of twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The news is reporting that Mr. Obama is moving to shield millions of illegal immigrants. It seems the Left and the Right are back at it – fighting for their particular view of what is right.

Before I even began to write this post I knew that immigration reform is a very charged topic. I also no that there is no monolithic Christian perspective on the issue. In fact, immigration is largely a national issue and not so much a spiritual one. That is to say, the bible never addresses how to handle immigration reform. The Bible DOES talk about foreigners and aliens and how to treat them. The Bible also addresses how to help those in need. Those are the issues we’ll look at today. Do you remember that movie Short Circuit from a while back? It’s about the robot that comes alive and has personality. The movie is filled with issues of identity: identity we give ourselves and identity given to us by others.short circuit On of my favorite scenes has two of the main characters talking and one asks the other about his identity – his heritage.

The white guy asks his (seemingly obvious) co-worker from India: “Where are you from?” To which his colleague responds: “Pittsburgh, originally.” 🙂

The passenger had a whole heap of presupposed ideas about his friend’s identity. This is part of our problem when it comes to immigration. We assume an “us vs. them” attitude. In the Old Testament we find that God gladly welcomes foreigners and aliens into the community of faith. Not only were they welcome but God saw to it that there were treated fairly and without discrimination.

God loves Foreigner?!?
God loves Foreigner?!?

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. ~ Leviticus 19:33-34 There is no room for an “other-than” mentality – they become us. Many Americans seem to hold to an immigration policy that embraces this wrong thinking. Heck, we still struggle with oppression and discrimination among natural-born citizens. The foreigner doesn’t stand a chance.

But God’s people are supposed to act fairly and inclusively no matter what. The New Testament letter of James tells us that our words need to match our actions. If we believe in a God that cares about people then so should we. It does no good to wish someone well if we fail to back up those words with our actions. I know that James wasn’t addressing international politics but I do believe that his words ought to make us think twice about how we behave towards foreigners looking to move to America.

While it may seem that I am in favor of flinging wide our national borders to any and all comers, I am not. I think that legal immigration should be embraced. I think that illegal immigration should be quashed. During the Exodus, when God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, God made a provision to care for foreigners. The only stipulation was that Israel’s law would apply to the foreigners as well. In this case it meant circumcision. That’s a steep price to pay for citizenship! If foreigners want to legally immigrate and make our laws their laws I believe we should welcome them whole-heartedly.

Where I personally draw the line is when people look to circumvent laws for their own betterment. When all is said and done I know there is no easy answer or fix to immigration reform. I know that Christians will approach the issue from several perspectives and reach differing conclusions.

Regardless of how America addresses the issue as a nation, I believe Christians need to wrestle with these Bible verses and ask if we’re treating people the way God would want us to treat them. And remember – go back far enough and we’re all from somewhere else (even the “Native Americans”).

How about you? Have you given any thought to how God wants you to treat foreigners and aliens?

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