The Public Faith of a Public Figure

Pres. Obama’s faith is in the news once again. Here is a video link to the speech he gave on Wednesday, February 7th at the National Prayer Breakfast. Many comentators are saying his speach was upstaged by a speech delivered by Dr. Ben Carson. Here is a video link to Dr. Carson’s speech. One thing I have learned in recent months is that if you want to get a controversy started on facebook, mention gun-control or Pres. Obama’s faith.

Pres. Obama claims to be a Christian. While running for office in 2008, he talked about his faith with Pastor Rick Warren. I found his remarks compelling. Here is a video link to those remarks. Immediately, when conservaties hear Pres. Obama discuss his faith and give blatently Christian/Biblical answers and speeches, they say he has good speech writers or is playing to the audience or just an out and out liar. Ultimately, conservatives will say to look at his record and his stance on abortion and same sex marriage. According to them, these policies, which are opposite of their own, mean Pres. Obama cannot possibly be a Christian. They usually follow this thought with the words of Jesus, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20). Of course, these same conservatives never mention Obama standing up for the poor and speaking out for the voiceless and the immigrant. Those policy issue do seem to line up with Scripture.

Here is my question: Is a public figures public policies enough for me to judge their heart and relationship with God?

I don’t know Pres. Obama personally. Many of his policies bother me and conflict with my understanding of Scripture. Like all of us, he seems to be a mixture of right/wrong, good/bad. But I don’t know his heart. I don’t know what he is like everyday. I don’t know his prayers and his private actions. I don’t know how he treats his family and friends. All I know is his public persona and I am sure that is not enough for me to judge his salvation.

Those who do know him say he has a deep, personal, growing, evangelical faith. (Here is one story; and here is another story.)

I guess what I am saying is that I am in no position to judge Pres. Obama’s faith and claim to be a Christian. Fortunately, the bible does not ask me to judge him. All it asks me to do is pray for him.

And so that is what I will do.

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3 thoughts on “The Public Faith of a Public Figure

  1. Public policies do not determine a person’s salvation and should not lead us to proclaim one is or is not a Christian. However, at the same time, Jesus did tell us that we could know a tree, by the fruit it bears (Luke 6:43-45, but you already knew conservatives would mention that ;).

    While it is not up to us to determine a man’s salvation it is up to us to evangelize and disciple. It is also up to us to be DISCERNING. Warnings are given in the New Testament about associating with those who “claim to be Christians” (1 Corinthians 5:11, see also vv. 9-13), but who are involved in sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, revelry, drunkenness, swindlers, etc. We are told not to even eat with them. We are told to purge those evil persons from among us. It is very important to understand this passage of Scripture is talking about those who “bear the name of brother” (1 Cor 5:11), rather than those who do not claim Christ as Savior (There would be a lot of other people eating alone if we took the admonition about GREED seriously too).

    Therefore if President Obama is publicly, aggressively and unapologetically (sp?) encouraging sexual immorality (same-sex “marriage”) and the shedding of innocent blood (abortion; which God hates) and at the same time claims to be a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, would or would not the same approach apply to him? Yes, I agree we must pray for him and I do consistently (more mentioned below). And since he is not a member of any of our churches, we cannot discipline him as outlined in the above Scripture. So can we do more than pray?

    I think we can! When a “professing brother” promotes, encourages, and coddles that which is blatantly opposed to God’s Word we need to speak the TRUTH in love.

    One thing that I’ve committed to doing in 2013 is praying weekly for the POTUS. I pray for him to be surrounded by godly influences that the Holy Spirit can use to open his eyes to the Truth. I pray that he will repent of his stance on abortion, homosexuality and seeking to force companies like Hobby Lobby to provide the “health” coverage which includes abortion causing agents.

    I just think when one publicly announces their faith in Christ and publicly promotes so many things that are in direct contradiction of Christ and His Word we must speak the TRUTH and must do so in LOVE. I love President Obama and nothing would thrill me more than to see this president walking the walk in morality as well as socially. (please excuse my mistakes as well)

  2. I wrestle with whether or not we can/should judge the salvation of others. I certainly believe Jesus and Paul did but I am not sure that contextualizes for us. If we do, where to draw the line? Can I say that someone who claims atheism or Islam is not a Christian? Just because a person claims to be a Christian does that somehow, some way, give them a protective shield around our determinations of their faith – especially if we say “yes’ to the previous question? As a pastor who baptizes people, do I have to make some kind of call on this issue at times? Are their pastors who baptize everyone who says they believe? This may not have anything to do with this topic, but it crosses my mind. I give answers all the time and really, more often than I should. So I am just asking questions. My answers are not important for this post and they are constantly being reevaluated.

    If I say “yes” to my second question (And I am not – yet), then I wonder what the criteria is. I know what it is when I baptize someone – can they explain the Gospel to me? I have wrestled with other things that should be on my “list” – do they have to believe in Hell? Do they have to believe God created the earth? Do they have to believe Jesus is the only way? I am not going to get bogged down in those question either.

    But I want to stick with the main criteria, whether it be the only criteria or not. Can a person explain the Gospel to me? If I apply this to President Obama (whether I should or not), I have to say that he leaves me confused. In his interview with Cathleen Falsani back in 04, he at one point claimed Jesus was the bridge between God and man, but later seemed to allude to how his reward in the afterlife (if there is one, he claimed he doesn’t know) is somehow tied to his works. I can agree rewards accompany works but the context was whether he believed in Heaven at all. It was a strange answer.

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