Quote of the Day

“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.”

Sen. Barack Obama in a recent interview with Christianity Today. (See comments for full context)

Advertisements

23 thoughts on “Quote of the Day

  1. You’ve talked about your experience walking down the aisle at Trinity United Church of Christ, and kneeling beneath the cross, having your sins redeemed, and submitting to God’s will. Would you describe that as a conversion? Do you consider yourself born again?

    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.

    There is one thing that I want to mention that I think is important. Part of what we’ve been seeing during the course this campaign is some scurrilous e-mails that have been sent out, denying my faith, talking about me being a Muslim, suggesting that I got sworn in the U.S. Senate with a Quran in my hand or that I don’t pledge allegiance to the flag. I think it’s really important for your readers to know that I have been a member of the same church for almost 20 years, and I have never practiced Islam. I am respectful of the religion, but it’s not my own. One of the things that’s very important in this day and age is that we don’t use religion as a political tool and certainly that we don’t lie about religion as a way to score political points. I just thought it was important to get that in there to dispel rumors that have been over the Internet. We’ve done so repeatedly, but obviously it’s a political tactic of somebody to try to provide this misinformation.

  2. Christians believe that the Bible has authority because it is the word of God, not the words of men. Therefore, Christians submit to the authority of the scripture.

    For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)

  3. Yeah, I have a very hard time understanding how someone can love and follow Jesus, but not respect and protect unborn lives. I’m not doubting Obama’s salvation, just his character.

    I really want to like Obama, but the abortion issue is a hangup for me. Still, I might vote for him if it’s between him and most of the republican candidates.

  4. I’m suspicious of all declarations of faith made by candidates during campaigns, but as such quotes go Obama’s is pretty impressive. It at least sounds personal and credible, unlike Hillary’s insistance that “faith and family” were the formative elements in her upbringing.

  5. He actually does go into great detail in a speech that he gave regarding being a leader of faith in a pluralistic society. It is on his website and I believe he was addressing the sojourners gang. It’s 40 minutes long, but worth the time if this is important to you.

    http://www.barackobama.com/issues/faith/

    I also don’t want to open up a big can of worms here, but regarding the abortion issue I think a President can have a personal conviction about it but ultimately is sworn to uphold and protect the laws of the US. George Bush might hate abortion and that stance may have gotten him elected, but after 8 years of his presidency people are still getting abortions. It might be time to rethink how important an issue that is in the grand scheme of things. We LOST that battle. The fact that we spend so much time quibbling over legislation shows how little life transformation actually goes on as a result of the church’s efforts or maybe how little we think of the transformational work of the Holy Spirit. Maybe we as the church need to get off of collective ass and get back into the business of allowing Jesus to enact real life-change and restoration through us rather than legislate or dictate it.

  6. Amen Tim, me too. I’m old enough to have voted for Carter, but I didn’t because of the abortion issue. (I wasn’t a Christian then, but others are against abortion, too) Nowadays I’d vote for Carter in a heartbeat.

  7. Wow, I wasn’t sure how that would be received. Oh, Erik that was not a shot at you and I hope that you don’t think it was since you brought up the “A” word, this was about much more than that. From our interactions back in the Ohio days, I know you are a man who looks beyond the surface of things and seeks the heart of Jesus. I appreciate your honesty in really trying to reconcile the whole thing.

  8. About the abortion issue- I don’t think just because “we lost” that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect and elect leaders who have a high value on human life. The issue isn’t a Christian issue for me, it’s an ethical & moral one. Politicians are almost required to make compromises to get into power. I don’t believe that human life should ever be one of those compromises.

    It’s true, a president isn’t one to change the laws of the land. However, they do appoint Supreme court justices who (tend to) affect the laws of the land.

    My question about the whole issue would be this… would you vote for a president that was pro-slavery? Just because something is the popular belief/law of the culture doesn’t mean we have to sit back and never try to change it. We the people can change things that we don’t like about our government, it’s apart of our political process. Some of that can come through who we elect.

    Abortion shouldn’t be the defining issue for the presidency, I agree – but to look the other way when a candidate claims to love life and God and is ok with abortions being performed for no greater reason than convenience is to overlook their character and that makes it difficult for me to think that candidate would have the character and integrity to properly serve our nation.

    As Christians, should we do everything reasonable to protect life? Not just unborn life, but all life including environmental stewardship. The problem with many politicians is that they are too easily seduced by the public. While some might say this makes them good civil servants, I think it makes them poor leaders. Really, we want and need both…and that’s the crux of this issue methinks.

    This really isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s not even a pro-life pro-choice issue. I guess my frustration at the moment is that no matter who we elect into office, they are not Jesus and I’m just starting to feel the weight and brokenness of my responsibility as a voter. What issue are ok to sacrifice at the feet of a good leader… what are not? I’m not sure.

  9. I guess my frustration at the moment is that no matter who we elect into office, they are not Jesus and I’m just starting to feel the weight and brokenness of my responsibility as a voter. What issue are ok to sacrifice at the feet of a good leader… what are not? I’m not sure.

    Thsat is why I am more or less a seperatist. I will vote on policy and legistaltion if I have the opportunitty but I generally feel it is impossible to to be a Christian and remain above reproach in office.
    Bush’s brand of Christianity has done far more to hurt the perception of Christians than help it in my opinion. A Christians formost responsibilities are to be, preach, and to live Christ. I am not sure and quite skeptical that any canidate can live that out in office. (and by perception I don’t mean sugar coating Christ)

    How does a president respond to:
    Love thy enemy
    turn the other cheek
    take care of the orphan and widow
    if he steals from you give him your cloak too
    pursue peace
    forgive your debtors
    preach the Message

    Those are not American government ideals. When Paul speaks of the old self dying he leaves no room for it to hang around in a split personality type setting that I think would be required to make many of the decisions that are necessary for a president.

    soapbox covered in rambled thoughts put away.

  10. “I have a very hard time understanding how someone can love and follow Jesus, but not respect and protect unborn lives”

    i think abortion is awful. i think life begins at conception. but here’s the question no one has ever answered for me – WHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT SAY THAT? the only passage i know of is in the psalms, “you knit me together in my mother’s womb”. is that enough to say life begins at conception? i don’t think so. i’m not flaming, i’m seriously wondering why many non-catholic christians are so adament about the idea that life begins at conception.

    and, i have a hard time understanding how anyone can love and follow jesus and support the death penalty (consistent ethic of life), unjust war, corporate control of government, tax breaks for the wealthy, complete disregard for the poor and basically 95% of conservative policy.

  11. The other day at work we all received an email from our CEO reminding us that we “are not to participate in political conversations on agency computers.” (Either she’s been reading my blog, or there’s just a general concern regarding the election season and our not-for-profit status.) So I’ve been sitting on this for the past two days…

    Something Erik said has been bothering me. Tim and Tim have both spoken to it, so I’ve held back for fear of piling on. But I do want to share what I’ve been feeling.

    I have a very hard time understanding how someone can love and follow Jesus, but not respect and protect unborn lives. I’m not doubting Obama’s salvation, just his character.

    There’s language there that I’m just not comfortable embracing. I’m not sure if it’s fair to say if Obama doesn’t “respect” unborn lives or has a lack of character. There’s a lot embedded in that kind of terminology that I’m not sure is fair.

    One of the things I appreciate about Obama is that he at least seems reasonable about the issue.

    His arguments for not supporting the partial birth ban in Illinois were because the bill offered no provisions for women whose lives might have been in danger if they had carried the pregnancy to terms. It would have made doctor’s who performed late-term abortions in order to save mother’s lives felons. He couldn’t support that bill in good conscience. Regardless of whether I agree with his position on the issue, I can respect a man who sticks to his convictions. Even if it means having to face some heat down the road in debates over his “no” vote, or actually “present” (which is a statement of protest).

    One of the things that is attractive to me about him is that he’s reasonable. In that Christianity Today article he made it a point to say that no one is pro-abortion. No one would ever say that the more abortions that are performed in this country, the better off we all are.

    Obama’s approach is different in that it seems based in compassion, empathy and reason. We’ve got 40 years of drawing lines in the sand on this issue. And it hasn’t brought us any closer to a solution. Logic would dictate that more of the same will bring, well, more of the same.

    Obama’s approach feels fresh and creative to me. Instead of the usual culture war over this issue, let’s change the culture! Let’s work together to minimize the number of abortions performed. That seems like a reasonable place to start. Let’s change the heart of the culture. Let’s encourage adoption as much as possible. Let’s do everything we can to minimize the number of unwanted pregnancies. Let’s build a stronger support structure for those facing these tough decisions – through family, churches, education, community. Not hardline legistlation. But compassion, mercy and love.

    That’s change I can believe in. 🙂

  12. So life at conception is up for debate then? I guess I’ll stop wasting my time then.

    Yes I was setting up a bit of a straw man saying that if Obama isn’t pro-life he lacks character. I was assuming that you can’t value life and be for abortions. I know that this is way over-simplifying the issue. However, I still hold that we overlook things we are uncomfortable with (and can even become blind to) in order to root for someone that shows themselves to be a good leader.

    Shane, I would love to believe that Obama is honest about wanting to change things and that it’s not an act. Will all the changes be for the best? Let’s go ahead and elect him and see if he holds up to his end of the bargain.

    We’ll never find a savior up on capital hill.

    @ Tim – Where in the Bible does is say slavery is wrong? Where does it say there is a Trinity? You don’t need a proof text to understand that the Bible teaches us to value life…even non-human life. Is a woman’s right to choose (not to save her life) more important than the life of a sub-human fetus?

  13. As far as I’m concerned the question of whether life begins at conception isn’t up for debate. Without a clear scientific definition of the precise moment a fertilized egg becomes a viable human life, or – if you need it – clearcut biblical direction on the matter, we’re left to formulate a definition based on a little science, a little religious conviction and a whole lotta emotion, logic, reason and guessing.

    I myself would be being intellectually dishonest if I looked at any other point in the process and said that’s where it starts if it weren’t conception.

    But Christians – or anyone for that matter – who are going to take that viewpoint and then try to carry that viewpoint out as far as changing legislation to ban abortion are being inconsistent if they are not equally opposed to embryonic stem cell research (most are) or in vitro fertilization (most don’t seem to be), or even their choice of contraception (barely anyone is).

    Sooo….. obviously it’s a difficult and complex issue. Even among people who agree that abortion is wrong and that life begins at conception you’re going to find varying opinions on whether there are cases where it should be allowed, or if other means of contraception and conception also fall within those moral boundaries.

    So the question for me comes down to “can I vote within my own conscience for a candidate who maybe isn’t completely aligned with all my views on abortion, but whom I agree with on a number of other issues.” Or, is abortion such a big issue to me that if a candidate got everything else “wrong” but his views on abortion were right, would my conscience obligate me to vote for him.

    When we talk about a consistent ethic of human life, I can’t in good conscience support a candidate who supports the war in Iraq – with tens/hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian casualties. I can’t support a candidate if I don’t believe in his/her plan to bridge the health care gap – with what 30 million Americans going without it? So it’s a much broader decision to me than any one issue.

    I’m not looking for a Savior on Capital Hill, regardless of what Derek Webb says. 😉 But elected officials do have the opportunity to enact change and set the course for our country. There are many Presidents whose legacies have had a profoundly positive (and for that matter, negative) impact in shaping our nation and culture. No one is looking to crown them king of kings.

    In closing let me also challenge one thing. Well, two.

    First, you said Obama was for abortion. Which again I think is unfair. Because he himself said that no one is pro-abortion. Which, by default, would include himself. Some want the government to ban it in every and all cases. Some don’t believe the government should make that decision for anyone. Some see room for compromise. But no one is for abortion.

    Secondly, you said that you would like to believe that Obama really wants to change things and that it’s not “an act.” I think we’d all agree that no one really trusts politicians. So, for the sake of consistency, don’t we have to treat gung-ho anti-abortion conservatives with the same level of skepticism? How many have won elections by polarizing people over abortion? How much has it changed things?

  14. I think you have made the mistake in assuming I’m a Republican and vote for candidates based upon their Pro-Life stance. I am not. It’s just that I’m wrestling with these issues.

    From my perspective, if you see an injustice or something that isn’t right, you seek to end that injustice, not make it less… end it. I recognize that some issues have to be approached in gradual steps. It’s just that if someone says “I’m pro-choice” they are saying “I might think abortions are wrong, but I’m not going to stop them.”

    Those who are pro-life view abortion as a form of murder. There is no reasonable justification for taking another innocent life… I know you would agree because of your stance on the Iraq war.

    I hear politicians saying “I don’t think abortion is good or right. I’m personally against it, but people should have a right to choose.” They are in a position of influence, see something is bad and wrong, but they decide to be “neutral” on the issue. No candidate wants to be seen as Pro-Abortion…it’s a public image nightmare.

    Our government makes many moral decisions for us. I’m not going to list them because I don’t think you would disagree. If abortion is wrong, then it must be stopped. Yes there are other avenues other than outlawing it, but should we then make murder legal?

    No I don’t trust pro-life politicians any more than I trust pro-choice candidates. I would think that a candidate has more to gain from a pro-choice platform though.

    I might have way oversimplified the issue, but if something is wrong…and not just religiously wrong, but human rights wrong, it should be banned at the federal level. Yes I’m well aware of the nuances of the abortion issue. Those can be dealt with on issue at a time. But to say “I’m pro-choice” means that you put the choice of a mother ahead of the life of an unborn child plain and simple. I’m not okay with that.

    By the way Shane, I probably sound angry at you and I’m not. I appreciate your honesty and your perspective. I’m surrounded by (very) conservative voices where I’m at and it’s refreshing to hear other perspectives.

  15. Hey man. I’m wading through this stuff too. I never assume anyone is coming off harsh unless they make it obvious that it’s their intent.

    That being said, I also haven’t made any assumptions about your political slant or voting habits.

    Hey, I’m pro-life. But I have a hard time with some aspects of my own stance. Like you said, nuances. I was much more hardline against it until the issue hit me really close to home in one of those “grey area” sort of ways. Someone pretty close to me had to make some very difficult decisions. It caused me to do alot of soul searching about how I communicate my beliefs on this issue. I spent alot of time outside myself, trying to think about the issue from every aspect.

    I haven’t changed my position much, if at all. But I’m a hell of a lot more sympathetic and understanding. And if I have to compromise to help make it possible for less women to have to face this decision, I’m willing to do that. The all or nothing approach hasn’t gotten us anywhere and is going on a third generation now.

  16. Shane, you beat me to the punch and said most of what I was going to. Not surprising.

    I will add that who is responsible for seeing potential life through to birth is a topic I will leave in God’s hands. We are called to be relationally responsible to the ones that do make it. On that I am sure we all can agree.

    If we valued life the way we say we do then orphanages would be out of business and nursing homes would to for that matter. We aren’t consistent on any of this which is why we’ve lost the right to be heard on most of these issues. It’s usually just a bunch of words and empty ideology. On one hand we blast convenience because it leads to death, yet on the other we openly participate in it with every other area of our lives.

    We really are hypocrites.

  17. And the question here really is:

    Can I be pro-life and vote for Obama?

    Everyone’s going to answer that differently. The more important the issue is to that person, the more it their conscience will influence their decision.

    As for Obama’s stance on abortion, he does cover the issue quite a bit in The Audacity of Hope. If anyone doesn’t want to spend money on the book, they can just go to Barnes and Noble, flip to the back where there is a topical index and spend maybe twenty minutes or so reading his thoughts on the issue. Rather than listen to a bunch of boobs like myself wax-philosophical about what his stance might be.

  18. Erik, I agree with you 100%! It is nice to actually have dialog with people and be able to just struggle through this and other issues. I spend a lot of time with college students who have a tendency to blindly support whatever is in front of them. This is something that has been bottling up in me for some time. Thanks for your valuable insights and thought provoking questions.

    Hey, Tim I think I can help you sort through some of those questions sometime because I’ve asked many of them myself. Maybe we can chat over on Facebook or something.

    You could also read this to get a grasp on where Obama is on the issue:

    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/06/obama-explores-abortion-issue/

  19. I really have nothing to add to the conversation here but to say thank you to all of you for being civil and for being willing to talk through this together in a positive way instead of the way most online (and almost all political) conversations generally go. I’m proud of you all. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts too. I think this is something a lot of people are tying to work through and your talking through it help us all do that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s