Friday, November 14, 2008

President-Elect's Religious Persuasion

I read through this interview with Barack Obama regarding his beliefs with quite some interest (found via Kuo & Joe).

The bottom line for me is that even though he self-identifies as a Christian, his beliefs IMNSHO do not line up with many core beliefs of either traditional or evangelical Christianity: His definition of "sin" and view of Jesus make that quite clear.

To me he comes across as individualistic moral humanist. His moral underpinnings are based on vaguely-Judeo-Christian pantheistic deism, and he appears to have some favor for emotionalism in religious expression, but fundamentally he looks into himself as the center of belief. Maybe such belief is more in line with post-modern "Christianity", but it is not what I consider to be even minimally Christian (e.g., an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent triune God; active in this world; sin as being contrary to God's will; salvation from sin through death and resurrection of Jesus).

I also find it interesting that such an interview is done after the election, and even more so that he is pretty explicit about why. We are in for a long 4 years (at least).

UPDATE (11/14/2008): Following some comments on the original article over at Kuo&Joe I tracked down this article in Christianity Today. In it (page 2) he sounds much closer to a traditional Christian, at least of the social gospel flavor:
I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful. I didn't 'fall out in church' as they say, but there was a very strong awakening in me of the importance of these issues in my life. I didn't want to walk alone on this journey. Accepting Jesus Christ in my life has been a powerful guide for my conduct and my values and my ideals.
In the end I am left confused as to where he really stands. Reconciling these two interviews is possible, but IMNSHO requires some serious intellectual gymnastics, which may or may not end up at a Christian belief depending upon the tack taken. Is he trying to be obtuse? If so why? Does he really see the apparent dichotomy in these statements? Or is he just saying what he thinks each particular audience wants to hear? Read and form your own opinions. I'm still working on mine, although it's leaning towards the last question.


Anonymous said...

You're not the first, actually, to suggest Obama leans in the direction of PanDeism.... but would a PanDeist continue warlike aggression, and begin new instances of it? No, I think not.

Kevin said...

How does PanDeism equate to pacifism? I don't see it. PanDeism is fundamentally relativistic in morality which allows for military action against others if there is sufficient benefit to oneself or to a "larger good" or larger group.