Faith and the President

This is probably the best thing you will read today. Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette confesses to being a Christian.

It is quite a great read.

In it she references me and my statement on the President. She writes:

I am not sure if there is anything Obama could do to make someone like Erick Erickson believe he is Christian in a “meaningful way.” For a thousand reasons, mostly bad ones, I presume for me he and his compatriots would set the bar lower. But how low?

Not going to church low? For Erickson and others, that’s passive evidence against Obama, even though Reagan didn’t go to church, either. What about Bible literacy? Mine is mostly limited to dimly remembered excerpts from the Old Testament we read in my college humanities class and a daily verse email. I read spiritual meditations, but the Word is still a second language I speak less than fluently. If Obama’s occasional mangling of scripture is proof positive that he’s not a “real” Christian, I have so much studying to do I may never catch up.

She goes on to write:

Here is why I believe I am a Christian: I believe I have a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. I believe in the grace offered by the Resurrection. I believe that whatever spiritual rewards I may reap come directly from trying to live the example set by Christ. Whether or not I succeed in living up to that example is primarily between Him and me.

The President himself has said something similar in the past. And Ana Marie Cox is right when she notes, “My understanding of Christianity is that it doesn’t require me to prove my faith to anyone on this plane of existence. It is about a direct relationship with the divine and freely offered salvation.”

She’s absolutely right.

I take quite literally the very real Christ saying in Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

When the Bible says to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, every Christian should be mindful of this and every Christian should pause, with a lot of self-reflection, before daring to say someone is not a Christian. Ana Marie is right that the President need not publicly defend his faith. It is between him and God.

But I also take 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 at its word that Christians need to hold each other accountable. “Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'” We all like sheep have gone astray. We all fall short of the glory of God. But ultimately we know Christians by their love of Christ and it is reflected in the world. When a Christian in the church does turn against the church, the church must act. It should be for the person’s local church to act, but to my knowledge the President has none.

What I see of the President reflected in the world is a man who used his faith as a lie to claim he opposed gay marriage when he really did not; who spoke out in favor of allowing abortionists to kill children who survive abortions; who has actively promoted abortion in his Presidency; who has publicly used the courts to curtail the free exercise of religion paring it down to a right to worship; who, when he thought he was off the record, mocked Christians bitterly clinging to guns and religion, etc., etc., etc.

In fact, that ultimately is it. The President, when he thought he was off the record and in the advancement of his political agenda, has been no friend to the church and its orthodox teachings. He trots out religion publicly as a political tool to help himself, not others.

I do not believe the President is a Christian, but ultimately that is between God and Barack Obama. In my view, he is outside the church family and should be prayed for, not judged. The admonition of Matthew 7 to not judge is often cited as claiming one cannot declare another to not be a Christian. That is not actually it, though. The admonition on not judging in Matthew 7 is not to presume you are somehow a better person than another sinner. I am reminded each day of how far short I fall from the cross and don’t view myself as better than the President. I know the benchmarks and I know how often I fail to meet them. But Christians should not give the President a pass to use his position to work against the church universal and its teachings nor to lie about his policy positions behind scripture.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. And I even concede I might be wrong on this. But I sure wish the President would be as open about his faith as Ana Marie Cox has been in her wonderful column. And yes, as I said, he has said similar things in public. They just were not reflected in what he has said and done when he thought the microphone was turned off.

Your mileage may certainly vary. You may even think I am not a Christian. But again, that’s between God and me and if you don’t think I am then do as I do for the President and pray for me as I pray for him. The difference here is that I could not care less that someone thinks I am not a Christian and a whole lot of people care very deeply that President claims to be and so must be.

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