5000 or more miles after I was warned that the Toyota needed new tires, I decided the other day to take her in to Sam’s Club and get, as my Nascar fan friends might call ’em, four brand new Mr. Feel-Goods. This procedure would take about an hour, I was told, leaving me with some time to kill at Sam’s. What to do, what to do. I decided to redeem the time (well, after wasting a little of it, admittedly), and so I sauntered over to the book section, where I was confronted with a book by the name of The Faith of Barack Obama, written by Stephen Mansfield and published, unfortunately, by Thomas Nelson Publishers (perhaps you’ll get the “unfortunately” after reading this post, Nelson being known, at least loosely, as an “evangelical” publisher). Knowing I couldn’t polish off the whole thing in the time allotted, I perused the chapters a bit before settling on Chapter 3, entitled “Faith Fit for our Age”. This is, apparently, the “money chapter” of the book, where we are introduced to the substance of Barack Obama’s “Christian” faith.
You’ll note the quote-marks around the word “Christian”.
To the author’s credit, he tags the chapter well: “Faith Fit for our Age”. Unfortunately, the faith of Barack Obama, as described by the author, is not what most evangelicals–wait, hold that…what most historic evangelicals…would describe as “Christian”. Without giving away the whole thing–I’d encourage you to read it for yourself if you wonder what the man believes–there are several things I’d point to. One, Barack Obama is a universalist. Two, he has, at best, a poor view of Scripture, evidenced by his dismissal of Romans 1 in favor of his (mis)reading of Jesus’ “red-letter” words (“Lord, deliver us from ‘red-letter Christians'”). Three, the author majors on the honest doubts that Obama has, which might not be a problem in one sense; I think that there are some of us who come off too cocksure on some of the finer points of theology. Problem is, the theme of “doubt” seems to occupy Obama’s beliefs more than faith in the finished work of Christ. The reader is left somewhat befuddled as to what Obama actually believes (granted, there are fleeting references to placing faith in Christ, but precious little by way of explanation as to what, for Obama, that term might exactly mean).
One thing which is clear, though, if this book is accurate: Obama’s faith is massively influenced by the spirit of the age in which we live, as though his entire take on Scripture and faith is funneled through the grid of his (hyper-liberal secular) worldview, instead of the events/issues of the world being funneled through a Christian worldview. Now in one sense, I recognize that Obama is, in this regard, not unlike a whole lot of professing Christians, including some who’d label themselves “evangelicals” (if we water down the term far enough). But to the author–and apparently, to Thomas Nelson–this is not a problem, but rather only that which is “fit for our age”.
A far cry, it seems to me, from “the faith once delivered…”