Church leaders condemn questions about Obama’s faith

In a story released this week, over 70 prominent Christian leaders linked up to openly condemn any and all who dare question President Obama’s claims to be a Christian. Signatories include the likes of emergent church leader Brian McLaren, Bishop T. D. Jakes of Potters House, Jim Wallis of Sojourners, and the Reverend Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches. This is what the letter said.

As Christian leaders— whose primary responsibility is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with our congregations, our communities, and our world— we are deeply troubled by the recent questioning of President Obama’s faith. We understand that these are contentious times, but the personal faith of our leaders should not be up for public debate.

President Obama has been unwavering in confessing Christ as Lord and has spoken often about the importance of his Christian faith.  Many of the signees on this letter have prayed and worshipped with this President.  We believe that questioning, and especially misrepresenting, the faith of a confessing believer goes too far.

This is not a political issue. The signers of this letter come from different political and ideological backgrounds, but we are unified in our belief in Jesus Christ.  As Christian pastors and leaders, we believe that fellow Christians need to be an encouragement to those who call Christ their savior, not question the veracity of their faith.

Therefore, we urge public officials, faith leaders, and the media to offer no further support or airtime to those who misrepresent and call into question the President’s Christian faith.  And we join with the President in praying that God will continue to bless the United States of America.

I have some serious disagreements with statements made by this declaration.

“…the personal faith of our leaders should not be up for public debate.”

Wrong. Every person has a worldview — a way of looking at the world and trying to make sense of it. It is a way of understanding why things work the way they do. Our worldview forms the basis for decisions we make and understanding what we believe to be true. Our worldview is formed, in large part, by our religious philosophy — our “faith” as it were. Even atheists hold to a certain religious philosophy — that God does not exist — and that philosophy drives the worldview of an atheist to adopt a worldview commonly identified as naturalism.

Thus, our “faith” is significant and understanding the faith of someone else is key to understanding what drives the worldview of that person and thus what drives the decisions s/he makes, as well as positions that person takes on important issues. We simply cannot dismiss Obama’s faith as irrelevant or out of the purview of scrutiny. Understanding his ‘faith’ is key to understanding who he is and how his decision making process will be informed.

“… President Obama has been unwavering in confessing Christ as Lord…”

Has he? If anyone knows of any link or quotation where Obama has ever called Christ his “Lord” I would like to see or hear it. But beyond that, saying it with one’s mouth and actually demonstrating by one’s life  are two different things altogether. Words alone are meaningless. That’s why James, the half-brother of Jesus, states in James 2:17; “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Furthermore, Jesus himself warned us that there would be those who with their mouths call him Lord, but do not mean it. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

We believe that questioning … the faith of a confessing believer goes too far.

Well, that’s not what Jesus himself taught. He questioned the faith of those who, with their mouths uttered the word ‘Lord’ but with their actions demonstrated otherwise. Matthew 25:31-46 provides the story of the final judgment, where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats.

Verse 41 – “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me. “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

If Jesus is free to question the ‘faith’ of a confessing believer, certainly I am free to do likewise.

This is not a political issue. The signers of this letter come from different political and ideological backgrounds, but we are unified in our belief in Jesus Christ.

Simple belief in Jesus Christ does not make one a Christian. James 2:19 – “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” I do not and can not take at face value anybody who utters with their mouth that they believe in Jesus and are therefore a Christian. Even Satan himself believes.

As Christian pastors and leaders, we believe that fellow Christians need to be an encouragement to those who call Christ their savior, not question the veracity of their faith.

Once again, this goes against the clear teaching of scripture. For these pastors to not know this is beyond comprehension.

In Matthew 7:15-20 these words of Jesus are recorded. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Twice Jesus exhorts his followers to not take for granted anyone who names the name of Jesus as his Lord, but to watch for the fruits of such a declaration. A true disciple of Jesus will not act in a way opposite of what Jesus taught. We are to be “fruit inspectors” as it were and, yes, question the veracity of anyone who mouths the words but does not have the requisite fruits. Jesus warns his followers that this is the only to recognize these ravenous wolves.

Therefore, we urge public officials, faith leaders, and the media to offer no further support or airtime to those who misrepresent and call into question the President’s Christian faith.

Translation: Anybody who follows biblical principles of testing and inspecting those who mouth the proper words will have no place in civil discourse concerning our president. True Christianity shall be marginalized.

Thank you T. D. Jakes, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Peg Chemberlin, and all the other signatories of this declaration. We now know what sort of Christians you are: we have inspected your fruit.

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