Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Christianity and Barak Obama

President Obama was asked by a woman today in Albuquerque: “Why are you a Christian?” He answered: "I am a Christian by choice," and then tried to explain what that meant. To reach his full response, click here.

In 2004 President Obama gave an interview to Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani regarding his faith in Jesus when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. Below are a few excerpts from that interview - the biblical responses are mine. To read the entire interview, click here.

FALSANI:
What do you believe?

OBAMA:
I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith. . . .So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. . . .

FALSANI:
Did you actually go up for an altar call?

OBAMA:
Yes. Absolutely. . . .

FALSANI:
So you got yourself born again?

OBAMA:
Yeah, although I don't, I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. 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. I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding. . . .

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

FALSANI:
Do you pray often?

OBAMA:
Uh, yeah, I guess I do. Its' not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:4-6)

FALSANI:
Who's Jesus to you?

OBAMA:
(He laughs nervously) Right. Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he's also a wonderful teacher. I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

OBAMA:
. . . I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.

FALSANI:
You don't believe that?

OBAMA:
I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That's just not part of my religious makeup. . . .

"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire." (Matthew 5:22)

FALSANI:
Do you believe in heaven?

OBAMA:
Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?

FALSANI:
A place spiritually you go to after you die?

OBAMA:
What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing. . . .

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart." (1 Kings 8:23)

FALSANI:
Do you believe in sin?

OBAMA:
Yes.

FALSANI:
What is sin?

OBAMA:
Being out of alignment with my values.

FALSANI:
What happens if you have sin in your life?

OBAMA:
I think it's the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I'm true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I'm not true to it, it's its own punishment.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

FALSANI:
What are you doing when you feel the most centered, the most aligned spiritually?

OBAMA:
I think I already described it. It's when I'm being true to myself. . . .

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

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