In a June of 2006 speech, Barak Obama spoke honestly about the uncertainties of belief. “Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts,” Obama declared. “You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it.” Senator Obama laid down principles for how to discuss faith in a pluralistic society, including the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate.
And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.
Last week America was treated to another view of the faith of our presidential candidates when Barak Obama and John McCain attended Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA to appear in a nationally televised talk about religious issues. The two senators offered a clear contrast on faith issues, with McCain (unsurprisingly) representing a black-and-white conservative Christian perspective and Obama presenting a more nuanced approach. The Los Angeles Times reported:
Obama, a Christian who until recently attended Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, was more revealing about his faith.
Explaining what it meant to him to be a Christian, the Democrat talked of “walking humbly with our God.” “I know that I don’t walk alone, and I know that if I can get myself out of the way that I can maybe carry out in some small way what he intends,” he said.
He used a line from the New Testament to answer Warren’s question about what had been America’s greatest moral failure. “We still don’t abide by that basic precept of Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me,” Obama replied.
Has Obama succeeded in convincing the “believing” portion of the American populace that he is an acceptable Christian candidate? What do you think of his brand of Christianity? How does it stand up to McCain’s?