Isn’t that just like God. Nearly as soon as I wrote last week’s blog, ”Raise the Level of Discourse” Barack Obama gave his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. God, it seems, gave me the opportunity to go back on what I wrote (in my flesh I would love to do that) or ignore the speech (which may be the coward’s way out) or comment on the issues and reserve any personal attacks. Hopefully, God will grant me success in doing the latter.
At a religious events like the National Prayer Breakfast, it seems appropriate to comment on spiritual issues and it often reveals ones worldview as they handle or mishandle the sacred texts of the group to whom one is speaking. This is true in the case of Barack Obama and this speech. As we have documented in our article, Barack and the Borg , for twenty years he attended a church that is steeped in Black Liberation Theology. Anthony B. Bradley’s article, The Marxist Roots of Black Liberation Theology defines and comments on the origins and implications of the theological view which Obama has been steeped in for over twenty years so I won’t spend much time on that here other than to say, it is this life centered and has little to do with our relationship to God or the person and work of Jesus Christ. This may sound odd since Obama stated in the speech:
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”
This presents a teachable moment for he claims to be a Christian, appeals to Jesus and cites a portion of Scripture, Luke 12:48. But there is a context here which has been abandoned in Obama’s use of it and demonstrates a misuse of the Word of God. Something which helps is a basic outline of how to interpret a text. The following is helpful:
A text (what we are citing)
Without a context (to whom was it written, when was it written, what was the author’s intent and how would those in that day have understood it)
Is a pretext (something that sounds true but is actually false).
This is very important for without this we can change or redefine words and statements to the opposite of what was intended. The Catholic Conservative blog points out in Collective Salvation or Individual Salvation – It’s Time to Choose :
So, what does this mean to each of us trying to live according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? First, we need to really think about this and train ourselves to listen carefully to words, especially words that can be misused by those who would modify the Gospel message. Know the differences between:
• Collective Salvation vs. Individual Salvation
• Social Justice vs. Equal Justice
• Human Rights vs. Individual Rights
Is the passage from Luke 12 talking about the government taking material wealth from some to give to others who are not as well off, or is it talking about something else?
The chapter begins with a discussion of not being fearful of men or even of life but instead to be focused on God and His provision. As Christ compares and contrasts focusing on this life vs. on God He says in verse 15:
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
He was clear that we are not to focus on what others have with an eye to acquire it for ourselves (covetousness) because what happens in this life is not the end of the story. After telling the story of a rich man who was focused on earthly treasures He says in verse 21- 29:
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
The context of Jesus’ comments is to focus on God not on the earthly life. God is our provider and protector. The next section talks about living expectantly for the Lord’s return. Again, the focus is on God and away from material stuff. In response to Peter’s question about who this applies to in verse 41, Jesus comes to the section which ends with the passage which Barack Obama used (42-48):
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
In context, the passage has nothing to do with redistribution of wealth, much less by the government. In fact, it has nothing to do with taking care of the poor either individually or by the government. I am not saying that Scripture doesn’t talk about helping the poor, we have written on that in The Rise of the Evangelical Left as well as a number of other articles. My point is this passage does not discuss it. But if not devoting more of our material possessions to the poor, what is in view in the context of Jesus statement? It has to do with power and abuse of power. Someone, a servant, was appointed to rule over many others. “ Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household .” The one appointed to govern decided he no longer needed to worry about his master and became power mad. He began abusing those in his charge and lived a king’s life at the expense of the people instead of a servants life in service to God, “ My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink .” Those who have been entrusted with a great deal of power and have been told that they are but servants are more accountable for how they use their power and will be rewarded or punished accordingly. So, one who has greater power and abuses those they are governing will be punished more severely, “ For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more..” The passage is about the use or abuse of power not with how the government should force those with means to make more provision for the poor by Federal mandate. So, the question is, since the passage has been put forth by the President, how is he and the Federal Government handling their power. Are they acting as servants or abusing those in their charge? President Obama went on to allude to Genesis 4:9 when he said:
But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper (Genesis 4:9)
There are 2 different words in Genesis 4 which are translated “keeper.” In Genesis 4:2, we read that “Abel was a keeper of the sheep.” Here the Hebrew word is “raah,” (this would be the English equivalent of the Hebrew word). It essentially means feeder. The shepherd made sure the sheep were fed and protected. In 4:9 the word is “shamar” and has the meaning of “to observe.” Cain was using it sarcastically to God and was essentially saying “it is not my job to know where my brother is at; I am not his observer or babysitter.” Again, was Obama communicating that he views the Federal Government as being the babysitter for its citizens?
Another passage he cites is Proverbs 31:8-9 from the NIV:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute
The passage is again talking about an abusive government:
Lemuel, it isn’t good for kings to drink wine. It isn’t good for rulers to long for beer. If they do, they might drink and forget what the law commands. They might take away the rights of all those who are beaten down. Give beer to those who are dying. Give wine to those who are sad and troubled. Let them drink and forget how poor they are. Let them forget their suffering. Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Speak up for the rights of all those who are poor. Speak up and judge fairly. Speak up for the rights of those who are poor and needy.”
Lemuel’s mother communicated to him as though it was from God (v:1) that God was calling him to protect the citizens from an evil overbearing government that would exert itself and “take away the rights of all those who are beaten down.” The warning here, like the warning in Luke, is about the abuse of power by evil leaders.
In the past President Obama has stated that Individual salvation based on collective salvation and if the Bible is man centered instead of God centered, that may be true. The view ignores the person and work of Christ and the Gospel as biblically defined. A comment from Collective Salvation or Individual Salvation – It’s Time to Choose seems appropriate here:
So how does a Christian, which Obama claims to be, reconcile Collective Salvation with the traditional teachings of Christianity? After all, Jesus’ death on the cross opened the door for the individual salvation of each one of us – and the judgment will be an individual judgment – we will not be called up in groups to account for our actions. When you think about it, how could a collective judgment possibly work? Each of us is responsible for our own individual actions – I cannot possibly be held to account for the actions of someone else
This is correct. There are many passages of Scripture which clearly show this however, I will just cite one, Ezekiel 18:20:
The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
We will stand before God on our own, not corporately. Paul writes in Romans 10 that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “Whoever” is individual and the individual will be saved.
The Scriptures which were used when read in context mean the opposite of how Barack Obama applies them. It would seem that his worldview dictates that Scripture is a human centric book rather than a God centric book. Do any of the religious leaders with whom he associates care enough about his eternal destiny to let him know this and communicate the true gospel? It might make a difference in how he leads if he took the passages in context and applied them to his leadership.