First, a quick word: I’ve been away on vacation/work for over a week, and my laptop went on the fritz as well; it’s back in my hands, and I’m back into a normal routine. These facts explain my blogging hiatus; thanks for sticking with me and continuing to read…
It’s a couple days late, I recognize, but I feel the need to weigh in on the whole Jeremiah Wright/Barack Obama deal with just a few thoughts:
One, Obama gave a very good speech on Tuesday. He said some things that needed to be said, and he said them well. He handled the issue of race pretty even-handedly, treading on some ground upon which it’s difficult to tread. Good. To the degree his words can be a catalyst to more honesty in approaching the difficult subject of race, good.
But the speech missed the point.
It missed the point because the point of the Jeremiah Wright controversy isn’t race. Oh, race is intertwined in the whole thing, of course, but the issue that Barack Obama needed to address–and didn’t–involves not race, but judgment and association. A good parallel to what Obama did would be Bill Belicheat standing up to address the Patriots cheating scandal and talking about winning and losing football games. A related issue, to be sure, but not the core of the thing. Just as race is not the core of the issue that has Americans (thankfully!) now taking a long, hard look at Barack Obama.
Now, in fairness to him, there is little he could have said to really address the issue in a way that got him off the hook, because the facts are simple: for over 20 years, Barack Obama and his family have made Trinity UCC (more on that in a minute) their home church. Until last month, that church was pastored by the race-baiting, “black liberation theology” heresy-preaching Jeremiah Wright. And whether Barack Obama was in attendance when the most egregious of “Rev.” Wright’s lies were being told or not, there is no way that any reasonable person can conclude that Barack Obama didn’t know about “Rev.” Wright’s beliefs. Despite this fact, Barack Obama chose to raise his family in this church. This does not mean that I believe that Barack Obama agrees with “Rev.” Wright; I choose to believe the opposite, that on these issues he does not. But why support this liar? An interview with Obama from a year ago relative to the sordid Don Imus affair was aired repeatedly yesterday; Obama (rightly) suggested that he’d not be willing to associate with Don Imus, to do anything to promote his brand of hateful speech. Fine…but for 20 years, Obama has presumably given to his church, and hasn’t disassociated himself with the hatefulness of “Rev.” Wright. What gives? Further, a year ago, apparently “Rev.” Wright was disinvited to Obama’s campaign announcement speech. Why? Did the campaign know at the time about some of the Wright’s outlandish bigotry? These questions are at the core of the issue, and Barack Obama’s speech, for all its merit in other ways, skirted this central issue.
Two, of note particularly to evangelical Christians: Trinity is part of the United Church of Christ. The UCC is arguably the most liberal denomination that calls itself “Christian” that there is in America. The “theology” of the vast majority of UCC churches is a witches’ brew of liberal nonsense, denying cardinal doctrines of the faith and substituting the so-called “social gospel” in its place, disqualifying itself from the very name “Christian”. Put it this way: what most UCC pastors do, and what I do, are not the same thing, as far different from each other as a dogcatcher is from an astronaut, despite various trappings that might seem similar. You don’t get the teachings of the inerrant Word of God in a UCC church (I’m sure there are some somewhere that do not fit this image; my apologies, and my suggestion that you leave the UCC posthaste). And so to say that Barack Obama is a “Christian” (and I don’t know his heart, of course) is to probably define the very word in a way differently than evangelicals would, because the gospel isn’t being preached in many UCC churches; if he’s truly a follower of Christ, truly born-again, it’s almost certainly not as a result of believing what is taught in the UCC. Instead, as I said, we get social “gospel”, pseudo-religious political tomfoolery (as in the case of “Rev.” Wright), and the like. Here’s a good example of the kind of buffoonery we get from the chief muckety-muck of the UCC in trying to defend the indefensible.
Three, Obama decried Sunday morning at 11:00 AM as “the most segregated hour in America”, evoking echoes of Dr. King. Question: if this is a problem, why did Mr. Obama choose to attend a “black church”? Ironically, Chicago is home to the Rock Church, and Circle Urban Ministries, trend-setting cross-cultural ministries seeking to bridge the racial divide. Why would he not unite with these ministries, shining a little light instead of cursing the darkness? At Red Oak, we’re trying to do this very thing, be a church that bridges gaps racial, ethnic, and economic. It can be done! Granted, we are just beginning on our journey, and it’s likely that the road to reconciliation in some of these areas will prove challenging. But to be part of a church where racial lies are being told?
Finally, it should be said that this whole notion of the “black church experience” ought to be offensive, if in the description of this experience we are led to believe that the fanatical nonsense embodied in the words of “Rev.” Wright are the norm. Yes, I think it’s reasonable to say that we can speak of a “style” that is common in “black churches”, frankly a style that some of our “white churches” could stand to emulate! But the problem with “Rev.” Wright’s words aren’t his style, but their substance. Tony Evans, to use one example, is a wonderful African-American expositor who preaches in the “black style”, but he preaches the Word of God. All over this country, there are wonderful brothers of different races and ethnicities who use different styles to communicate God’s truth, and this is tremendous. The message of the gospel transcends styles, and the diversity of style is something to be celebrated. If “Rev.” Wright used his considerable communication talents to rightly divide the Word of truth, instead of to spew hatred and lies, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, and so these folks who want to claim that what he’s doing amounts to simply reflecting the “black worship experience” are disingenuous at best.
Barack Obama gave a nice speech, and talked candidly and well about some important things, but that speech didn’t come close to answering the fundamental question. Mr. Obama’s judgment and associations are in question, and this whole episode raises the more important question as to whether he has the judgment to be the leader of the free world. From where I sit, he clearly does not.