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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama on Christianity, Faith in the Public Square: Don't Get Bit by Bad Dogma

My fellow South Dakota blogger Cory Heidelberger at Madville Times has a piece on the Obamessiah Barack Obama and religious views today.

Cory seems to take comfort in Obama's religious doubts. Cory quotes Obama from an interview with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani on March 27, 2004:

I think that religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt.

Barack Obama may think doubt is a good thing when it comes to faith (aren't "doubt" and "faith" antithetical?) but as usual Obama (like many other liberals) substitutes the flawed wisdom of this world for God's truth.

When you take a look at what the Bible says about doubt, it really doesn't have anything good to say about this state of disbelief:
Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.

Matthew 28:17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

Mark 11:23 "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

Luke 24:38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

James 1:6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

The Bible describes faith in terms quite the opposite of doubt:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1

Contrary to the negative way in which the Bible refers to doubt, it speaks rather highly of faith:
Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

Matthew 8:26 He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

Matthew 13:58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.

Matthew 24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Mark 4:40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

Mark 6:6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

Mark 11:22 "Have faith in God," Jesus answered.

Romans 3:22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 5:2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message,

There are actually many, many more examples where faith--as opposed to doubt--is highly praised and pointed to as essential to salvation.

Another statement from Obama should be troubling for the Christian:
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.

That's too bad, because Jesus made it pretty clear that He has a monopoly on the truth, and if you're believing what Christ said, you're going to be pretty connected to the One who does have a monopoly on the truth. Jesus also made it clear that it is "transferable" to all people (whether they accept it or not):

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 3:16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Matthew 5:13-16 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven

Colossians 1:28We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Romans 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."


I will pass for the moment on Obama's comments about the "separation of church and state" and "theocracy." I have dealt with these before at some length, but today I primarily want to answer Obama's dangerous theological errors.

But there is one additional Obama statement I'd like to comment on:
I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God's mandate.

I think there is this tendency that I don't think is healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them.

It certainly could be the case that some politicians might do this. Perhaps Obama has even done it himself?

Probably the best way to detect behavior of this nature is when on one hand the politician professes religious faith, but the politician's behavior or advocacy is in contradiction to the clear teachings of that faith (say, perhaps when a politician defends killing unborn children and some born ones, or say when a politician supports the legitimization of a sexual practice that the Bible makes abundantly clear in both Old and New Testaments is wrong).

But I do not think it is wrong in the slightest for a public official to state the rightness or the wrongness of a public policy based on the clear teachings of Christianity. After all, our nation was founded by Christians on Christian principles, and they recognized the vital role that religion and morality play in a free and successful civilization.

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity. – John Adams

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments. – Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. – Benjamin Franklin

Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. – Daniel Webster

Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement – John Hancock

The law…dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this. – Alexander Hamilton, signer of the Constitution

The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained. – George Washington’s Inaugural Address

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. – John Adams

Let it never be forgotten that there can be no genuine freedom where there is no morality, and no sound morality where there is no religion…Hesitate not a moment to believe that the man who labors to destroy these two great pillars of human happiness…is neither a good patriot nor a good man. – Jeremiah Smith, Revolutionary soldier, judge, U.S. Congressman, Governor of New Hampshire

Religion and morality…are necessary to good government, good order and good laws, for “when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice” – William Paterson, signer of the Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs whether any free government can be permanent where the public worship of God and the support of religion constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape. – Joseph Story, U.S. Supreme Court Judge, Father of American Jurisprudence

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. - John Jay, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. Religion and virtue are the only foundations…of republicanism and of all free governments. – John Adams

The Holy Scriptures…can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability, and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses. – James McHenry, signer of the Constitution, Secretary of War

Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society – George Washington

Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. – James Wilson, signer of the Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court Judge

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness. – George Washington’s Presidential Farewell Address

While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. – Samuel Adams

No country on earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed it would be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass. – George Washington (how deeply sad that we have betrayed Washington’s confidence)

It should therefore be among the first objects of those who wish well to the national prosperity to encourage and support the principles of religion and morality. – Abraham Baldwin, signer of the Constitution

The practice of morality being necessary for the well-being of society…We all agree in the obligation of the moral precepts of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses. – Thomas Jefferson

Christianity to which the sword and the fagot [burning stake or hot branding iron] are unknown—general tolerant Christianity is the law of the land. – Daniel Webstser

Righteousness alone can exalt them [America] as a nation…The great pillars of all government and of social life: I mean virtue, morality and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible. – Patrick Henry.

When a citizen gives his suffrage [vote] to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust [civic responsibility]; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. – Noah Webster

I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. Therefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man toward God. – Gouverneur Morris, penman and signer of the Constitution

Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country…God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy one may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both. – John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration


When Alaska Governor Sarah Palin runs for president headlining her own ticket in four years, I'm glad we'll have a candidate to support who doesn't think he or she is smarter than God.


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