Sunday, August 29, 2010

Barack Obama: Closeted Non-Believer?

The title of this entry comes from a Huffington Post blog by Ali R. Rizvi.  To read it click on the title. I do not agree with the author. I believe President Obama is a man of faith and I do believe that matters.  I take President Barack Obama at his word; he is a Christian.

His 2004 interview about his faith is being used by fundamentalists and evangelicals to discredit his beliefs.  President Obama did not use code words such as "born-again" and "the Bible is the Word of God."  His failure to use the code and familiar references means that fundamentalists and evangelicals do not believe he is one of them, a Christian.

The problem, of course, is that President Obama is neither a fundamentalist nor an evangelical Christian.  Just as I am not one, even though  I was baptized in a Southern Baptist Church and am an ordained deacon in a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.  Neither of us approaches faith from the believe it or leave it approach. Neither are we non-believers.

In President Obama's 2004 interview, I recognize an intellectual approach to Christianity that is scorned by fundamentalist Christians.  I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist Church and was baptized at the age of 11.  I believe that I committed as much as I could at that time to Jesus Christ.  At 13, I left, pushed out by the refusal of adults to answer questions and my mother's insanity.  When Mom had her first psychotic break, the church blamed her and did not reach out to help.  Former church friends disappeared.  The minister did not visit.  The church made her insanity my mother's fault.  I would come to learn that Mom was schizophrenic, not exactly something she could prevent.  I returned to the church at the age of 28.  In those years between, I studied many faiths and through the writings of C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, and others found the intellectual basis for my faith and in the church the community of Christians I needed.

I found that Christianity is as much an intellectual challenge as one of faith.  Fundamentalists make all the issues depend on the Bible.  Yet, fundamentalists tell you that your personal relationship with Christ is all important.  That personal relationship is key for me.  Because I am over-educated, I approached my search for faith from an intellectual viewpoint.  I wanted questions answered, not brushed off.  I found that my questions were often answered with another question, but they were never brushed off.  Great minds have struggled with the meaning of Christianity for two thousand years. That does not mean I believe that an intellectual approach is the only way to true faith.  I believe there are many approaches to faith, all valid.

Baptist believe in the priesthood of the believer which means we can each have a direct relationship with God.  We do not need a minister or priest to intercede with or to bring us to God.  I fully embrace that philosophy.  I may not have all the answers, just as President Obama does not supply pat answers about his faith, but I know that God is real.  That his truest representation is in Jesus Christ. That I can have a personal relationship with God.   I know the God I worship is Love in its purest sense.  Love that does not care what you call her.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but have you read Obama's books?

January Cat said...

Yes, I have read his books. Have you read his 2004 interview? This piece gives the reference:

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