Jul 9, 2008

What Do I Know About Obama's Faith? Part I

Lately I have had several people ask me what I know about Barack Obama and his faith. So, I will be responding to this request in my next few posts. If you have studied anything about the History of Christianity in North America, you know that the American public has always cared about the faith of their presidents and presidential candidates. We like it when our leaders express their dependence on God and can affirm their personal faith in Christ. That is not to say that everybody likes it that way. There are plenty of people who are so irked by this fact. They would rather have secularism dominate. The truth discernible from those of us who are 35 and under, however, is that faith requirement is a quality that is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Faith in the person of Jesus Christ and acknowledgement of the need for God in the public square of American politics and business enterprise is not going anywhere. This election cycle is no different. Americans are a religious people. 90 percent of us believe in God, 70 percent affiliate themselves with an organized religion, 38 percent call themselves committed Christians, and substantially more people in America believe in angels than they do in evolution despite the many years of secular propaganda and contrary public education indoctrination. Beyond the economic and the war policies of the campaigns, the faith stands of both Barack Obama and John MCcain are going to matter. Rather than a perfect and neatly packaged faith story, we are keen to discern a sense of authenticity, humility and honesty from the candidates on their personal faith. An acknowledgement that they recognize the limits of their human capabilities and that in the times of difficulty that the U.S. and the world may find itself in from time to time as it sure will, as well as in the good times, they are in a position to guide the nations mood toward God. We are also keen to know that they care about important issues to people of faith such as the sanctity of family, marriage, the unborn child's right to life, the environment, global injustices like Darfur, and the care of the poor among us, among other concerns. This holistic concern for religious issues rather than the piecemeal concern that has characterized partisan politics in the past is important to us. There are other reasons that some people think my opinion on Obama's faith is important. Firstly, Obama has publicly said that He is a born-again Christian. I am an evangelist and I know something about a person who has faith in Christ. I am not saying that I am a judge in that matter. I am simply saying that I know enough to give trustworthy perspective. Secondly, I have no political party interests unlike many of our older evangelical leaders whose faith perspectives I agree with but who are partisan in their brand of politics, dicing the gospel message to affirm certain political groups and against others. I am neither democrat, republican, independent, nor libertarian. I am a missionary. My call is simple: to advance the course of Jesus Christ in the world. Thirdly, I've seen and been asked about the many rumors online about Obama being a secret Muslim with a hidden Muslim agenda because of his Kenyan father. Before I became a missionary to the United States, I was a missionary to Western Kenya. Obama's father, a none practicing muslim, was an immigrant from Western Kenya. I was born there. I know something about the brand of Islam practiced in that part of Kenya. Fourthly, I am a biblical realist. Biblically speaking the world as we know it has little hope of becoming a perfect place. Sure, if people learn to love neighbor as they love themselves and we collectively embrace the teachings of our Lord, life will be much better. It will never, however, become a heaven through political power and activism. Only Jesus Christ's Kingdom when it is fully established upon His return will be a perfect Kingdom. The utopian views of a perfectly just and equal society will remain elusive for a very long time. Hopes of inevitable socio-political and economic progress, fueled by the enlightenment philosophies and pegged upon human genius will always prove to be a disappointment. So how do we assess the "Yes, we can" philosophy? Finally, I care about the future of the United States and of our world. I care about the world in which our children and our children's children will live in. I know that politics plays a huge role in shaping that future. I also know that a candidate's faith or their faith trajectory has huge impact on their political values and policies. It is important we examine where the likely next president of the United States is pointed. O.k., I hope this interests you enough to come back next week to read my next post on this subject.