Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Theologian's Response

Since new ads show Senator Obama waxing eloquently on my particular field of expertise, I figured I'd share my understanding of Barack's comments.

#1: "90% of us believe in God." I wouldn't disagree with this particular point except that an "a" should have been added before the word "God". 90% believe in A god. The question is, "WHICH god?" President Bush, after 9-11, began using rhetoric about Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worshipping the same God. I don't know if the President was trying to be politically-correct or if he was simply naieve, but he was most certainly wrong. First of all, many Christians and almost ALL Jews and Muslims would adamently disagree with that statement. The god of the Koran (Allah) and the God of the Bible (YHWH) are certainly two very different gods. The Koran denies that Jesus was only a prophet who did not die on a cross and is not God's only begotten Son. These two denials are the whole of Christianity. Either Jesus died for me and took away my sins, or I am still in my sins and need to make a way for myself; that's as simple as it gets.

#2: "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation." First of all, I hope the senator is very wrong. In order for a nation to survive, it has to have some sort of moral foundation, especially in a democracy. Either a nation will teach its people a moral code for living or they will have to put all their money, time, and energy into punishment (police, military, prisons, capital punishment, etc). India chose Hinduism. Nations like Iran and Saudia Arabia chose Islam. The United States, at its outset, chose the Christian Bible for its moral code. There are laws we have that make no sense except that they are based on the Christian Scriptures such as the law against polygamy, beastiality, homosexuality, etc. So, although our judges are striking down more and more of these laws, we still are, in my opinion, a Christian nation at our foundation.

#3: "Leviticus...suggests slavery is okay and eating shellfish is an abomination...Deuteronomy suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith...the Sermon on the Mount, a passage that is so radical..." First of all, Leviticus doesn't suggest that slavery is okay; it merely acknowledges that it existed in that time and how slavemasters were to treat those in slavery to them.

To address the other comments, I present to you the message of the Bible in the vernacular:

God Who is Holy (PERFECT) created human beings to be Holy (PERFECT). People responded by rebelling against God's perfect standard and therefore deserve God's punishment here on earth and into eternity. Some people thought that they could get back into God's good graces by being better people. God wanted these people--and all people for that matter--to know that good people don't go to Heaven; only PERFECT people do. So, God went to great trouble to write down all the rules and regulations to show just what perfection looks like. And the standard is HIGH! Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, was continuing this rhetoric. Why? Because God wanted people to throw up their hands and exclaim in dismay, "I can't do it; help me, God!" Because then, and only then, will people be willing to accept Jesus as their personal Savior from sin, death, and condemnation. God sent His Son Jesus to make me PERFECT once again by taking away my sins, but I won't cling to Jesus as long as I think, "If only I try a little bit harder..." or "I'm basically a pretty good person." And, in Jesus' own words, "No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

As a theologian, I cringe when I hear politicians begin making points about the Bible. Once again, as happened 7 years ago with President Bush, we have a politician spouting off some politically-correct mumbo-jumbo or, worse yet, showing a naivety that only someone who doesn't understand the basics of the Christian faith can have.

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