Saturday, August 09, 2008

...Messiah or moronic? what happens when you believe your own press release

By Jonah Goldberg

Asked to define sin, Barack Obama replied that sin is "being out of alignment with my values." Statements such as this have caused many people to wonder whether Obama has a God complex or is hopelessly arrogant. For the record, sin isn't being out of alignment with your own values (if it were, Hannibal Lecter wouldn't be a sinner because his values hold that it's OK to eat people) nor is it being out of alignment with Obama's — unless he really is our Savior.

How Should We Define Sin? 
Here is what the Scriptures say:

Rom. 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Rom. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Rom. 5:12 ¶ Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— Rom. 7:7 ¶ What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” Rom. 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

1 Cor. 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;

Gal. 3:22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

1 John 3:4 ¶ Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.


John said...

Voting for him would be out of alignment with my values!

Michele Rayburn said...

Good comeback, John. Another quote of the day.

I've heard several people in the media say that Obama attended a Christian church (if you want to call it that--it appears to be more of a Black Liberation Theology church) for political purposes. So, it's not surprising that he couldn't define what sin is.

It's sad to see the anger in his face, and in his wife as well. They do appear to be brainwashed with "hate theology".

Steve, I looked at the link that you posted under "Jonah Goldberg" which takes you to an article he wrote entitled, "Obama, the Postmodernist". It's really an excellent little article that shows how Obama seems to be a "classic" postmodernist in his thinking and in his speech. Very insightful...and disturbing at the same time. He needs our prayers.

Deb_B said...

A lengthy, but applicable commentary by John Owen. Note that to make it easier on the eyes, I've inserted line breaks - there are none in the original, FYI.

"Many love to walk in a very careless, unwise profession. So long as they can hold out in the performance of outward duties, they are very regardless of the greatest evangelical privileges, - of those things which are the marrow of divine promises, - all real endeavours of a vital communion with Christ. Such are spiritual peace, refreshing consolations, ineffable joys, and the blessed composure of assurance.

"Without some taste and experience of these things,
profession is heartless, lifeless, useless; and religion itself a dead carcass without an animating soul. The peace which some enjoy is a mere stupidity.

"They judge not these things to be real which are the substance of Christ's present reward; and a renunciation whereof would deprive the church of its principal supportments and encouragements in all its sufferings. It is a great evidence of the power of unbelief, when we can satisfy ourselves without an experience in our own hearts of the great things, in this kind of joy, peace, consolation, assurance, that are promised in the Gospel.

"For how can it be supposed that we do indeed believe the promises of things future, - namely, of heaven, immortality, and glory, the faith whereof is the foundation of all religion, - when we do not believe the promises of the present reward in these spiritual privileges? And how shall we be thought to believe them, when we do not endeavour after an experience of the things themselves in our own souls, but are even contented without them? But herein men deceive themselves.

They would very desirously have evangelical joy, peace, and assurance, to countenance them in their evil frames and careless walking And some have attempted to reconcile these things, unto the ruin of their souls. But it will not be. Without the diligent exercise of the grace of obedience, we shall never enjoy the grace of consolation."

-John Owen

Russell said...

You said it Steve! Sin is being out of alignment with GOD'S values, not Obama's!

Carla said...

When I first heard that he'd said this, my initial impression was that he has no concept whatsoever of what sin actually is. That should come as no surprise to anyone since there are A LOT of professing Christians that probably couldn't Biblically define sin, if asked. I would guess a big reason for that is that they aren't Christians at all, but for cultural reasons identify more with the Christian faith than anything else, so that's what they call themselves (we've all known and likely currently know people just like this, in our own circle of aquaintances).

The more I thought about this statement though, the more I wondered if what he meant was along the lines of James 4:17 which says "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." It would be pretty easy for anyone to set up their own value system as the standard for righteousness/sinfulness and then use James 4:17 as their back-up text, as it were.

I'm certainly not taking up for Obama, I just wonder if this is where he's coming from.

I read the interview and it's pretty obvious that while most of his answers sound exactly like your typical fluffy-puffy-I'm-a-spiritual-person, he has been exposed to Christian teachings and that he may come from the working idea that James 4:17 means sin is whatever doesn't 'work' for you.

Just thinking outloud.

Dave Algie said...

Reading the interview, when Obama refers to sin being out of alignment with "his values" he has just stated what some of his values are; kindness and honesty (and curiosity!). The context then is that by "my values" he is talking about a certain moral code he has adopted not one he has created. He considers violating this code (my values") sin.

Now this is not the Biblical definition of sin-as evidenced in the posting here. However, it does make the title of this posting and some of the comments made so far a bit harsh. The comments in context are not strong evidence of a messiah complex. Nor are they necessarily moronic.

Along with Rush, there are many conservatives who want to paint Obama as stupid and/or having a Messiah complex.

I am not sure why conservatives need bother to do this. They clearly have different values and policies- and Obama's are fair game for criticism and all kinds of dissection. The tired refrains about him being thick and/or narcissistic create a sense of desperation. Especially when the evidence for it is as weak as it is here.

Strong Tower said...

Okay dave.

So he is not thick. I somewhat agree with that. Then he is definitely a deceiver, isn't he? I mean, he fully knows what Black Liberation Theology is. He sat under its teaching for two decades. He's read Cone. Being smartsy, shouldn't he have known the fascisitic reality of it? Shouldn't he not have aligned himself with its blatant racism. I think he knows, yet he has not come out and condemned it. Instead, what he does is weave weak definitions around an amorphous Christianity. So then the question arises is he too stupid to think that others don't know, or is he smart enough to know that so many do not? If the latter, what kind of values is that, that he would take advantage of the ignorant.

Either way, lying in the name of Jesus Christ, I would label as thick, wouldn't you?

SJ Camp said...

Here is a fitting piece of commentary from A. Barnes on this verse of James 4:17:

17. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. That is, he is guilty of sin if he does not do it.

Cotton Mather adopted it as a principle of action, “that the ability to do good in any case imposes an obligation to do it.” The proposition in the verse before us is of a general character, but probably the apostle meant that it should refer to the point specified in the previous verses—the forming of plans respecting the future. The particular meaning then would be, “that he who knows what sort of views he should take in regard to the future, and how he should form his plans in view of the uncertainty of life, and still does not do it, but goes on recklessly, forming his plans boastingly and confident of success, is guilty of sin against God.”

It is universally true that if a man knows what is right, and does not do it, he is guilty of sin. If he understands what his duty is; if he has the means of doing good to others; if by his name, his influence, his wealth, he can promote a good cause; if he can, consistently with other duties, relieve the distressed, the poor, the prisoner, the oppressed; if he can send the gospel to other lands, or can wipe away the tear of the mourner; if he has talents by which he can lift a voice that shah be heard in favour of temperance, chastity, liberty, and religion, he is under obligations to do it: and if, by indolence, or avarice, or selfishness, or the dread of the loss of popularity, he does not do it, he is guilty of sin before God.

The highest privilege conferred on a mortal, besides that of securing the salvation of his own soul, is that of doing good to others—of alleviating sorrow, instructing ignorance, raising up the bowed down, comforting those that mourn, delivering the wronged and the oppressed, supplying the wants of the needy, guiding inquirers into the way of truth, and sending liberty, knowledge, and salvation around the world. If a man does not do this when he has the means, he sins against his own soul, against humanity, and against his Maker; if he does it cheerfully and to the extent of his means, it likens him more than anything else to God.


I don't think the context of this verse means that any man can by his moorings and values, create his own system of "goodness" and then if he fails to keep it - it is sin... I do believe that James is clearly within the context of sanctifying grace applied to believers as they are unfolding the daily duties of their lives.

Barack's standard of measurement in most things seems by all accounts to be himself. A poor measuring rod for all of us (1 Cor. 4:4-5).

Campius Maximus
Col. 3:23-34

SJ Camp said...

Comeback of the day!!!

Excellent my brother,

SJ Camp said...

Deb B
Great quote by Owen! One of my favorite Puritan theologians, pastors and writers - if not my favorite.

The thing that set that era of Christianity apart from others since then, was their high view of God, the gospel, the person and ministry of Jesus Christ, and the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

Oh for a new reformation once again.

Thanks again for exposing all our hearts and minds to such godly words.


SJ Camp said...

strong tower

dave algie
Thanks for your words here brother. I do think that JG's article was keeping his words in a biblical context, not just a self-imposed moral one. Thus the "Messiah" or "Savior" complex moniker I think is most fitting.

I do appreciate your perspective of this "soup can" though...

Grace and peace,

Carla said...


great commentary on this verse, to which I agree with completely.

I also agree with you when you say that sin cannot be defined by any individual's personal bullet list of goodness, but this is exactly what so many "spiritual" people do. Even people that call themselves Christians, as Obama does.

On any given topic they might have their own understanding (which is generally wrong) of how that ought to be applied, then they yank a verse out of context from Scripture and say "see, the Bible says such and such" to back themselves up. It happens all the time, so I just wondered if maybe this is what Obama is doing as it pertains to his definition of sin.

If in fact Obama's rod of measurement for morality is himself (and it clearly appears to be this way based on his own words) then he's right in line with the countless North American "Christians" that answer all those polls on Christian faith & doctrine and give answers that make real Christians drop their jaws and question what kind of lunatic preaching is going on in pulpits that cause these folks to have such a backwards, messed up understanding of Christianity.

As I read his answers to the questions in that interview, the one prevailing thought was "he has no idea what Biblical Christianity is, AT ALL."

I hope that made sense, as I said I'm just thinking outloud.

SJ Camp said...

Sin is being out of alignment with GOD'S values, not Obama's!


I guess Jonas was right on Barack being a postmodern candidate when Obama likes to reinvent words and their true meaning... "sin" being the operative example in this case.

I also think that Barack is a post-Christian candidate. He not only reinvents nomenclature, but the Christian faith as well to make it fit him rather than he conform to it.


Terry Rayburn said...


The interview of Obama that you reference is very revealing about Obama's faith (or lack thereof).

He says in the interview,

"I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith."

Sounds good so far.

However, here are some more quotes from the interview:

"On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of EASTERN INFLUENCES."

Obama obviously thinks this is a *good* thing.

"I lived in Indonesia, the largest MUSLIM country in the world, between the ages of six and 10. And I’d say, probably, intellectually I’ve drawn as much from JUDAISM as any other faith."

Again, he thinks his well-rounded religious background is good. He says he's "rooted in the Christian tradition, but then says,

"I believe that there are MANY PATHS to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a HIGHER POWER, a belief that we are connected as a people."

This would do Oprah and Chopra proud.

He says he was raised more by his mother "and my mother was Christian", but then,

" mother was a deeply spiritual person, and would spend a lot of time talking about values and give me books about THE WORLD'S RELIGIONS, and talk to me about them. And I think always, her view always was that UNDERLYING THESE RELIGIONS were a COMMON SET OF BELIEFS about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act..."

Far be it from me to pick on anybody's mother, but tell that to Al Quaeda.

When asked if he got himself born again, Obama says,

"Yeah, although I don’t, I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a SUSPICION OF DOGMA [translated, "suspicion of absolute truth"]. And I’m not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I’ve got a MONOPOLY ON THE TRUTH [translation, "I can't say Jesus is the only Way, even though He said it"]"

"...religion at it’s best comes with A BIG DOSE OF DOUBT
["What's wrong with that?", asks Postmodern Guy]."

"...we are all children of God....

"There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell."

[Interviewer]:You don’t believe that?

OBAMA:I find it hard to believe that MY God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.
I can’t imagine that MY God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.
That’s just not part of my religious makeup."

Okay, so much for believing the Bible regarding eternal punishment. What about heaven, the interviewer asked.


Excuse the interruption, Saints, but isn't that the CLASSIC works-based religion of the World? Continue...

"I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die."

Oprah has GOT to love this guy.

[Interviewer]: "Where do you find spiritual inspiration?"

OBAMA: "There are so many.
Nothing is more powerful than the black church experience. A good choir and a good sermon in the black church, it’s pretty hard not to be moved and BE TRANSPORTED.

"I can BE TRANSPORTED by watching a good performance of Hamlet, or reading Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, or listening to Miles Davis."

Church, Hamlet, Miles Davis, whatever.

Finally, when asked who a role model would be for him, Obama said,

"I think Gandhi is a great example of a PROFOUNDLY SPIRITUAL MAN who acted and risked everything on behalf of those values but NEVER SLIPPED INTO INTOLERANCE OR DOGMA. He seemed to always maintain AN AIR OF DOUBT about him."

This is not only revealing about Obama's lack of Christian faith, it devastatingly points out that he really doesn't believe ANYTHING with any surety.

Except he believes firmly in doubt (but not too firmly).

Is that a good quality for a leader of a nation?

Strong Tower said...


Do you have a link to that interview?

Terry Rayburn said...


It's a link in the first sentence of Steve's post, as the phrase "being out of alignment with my values".

Strong Tower said...


I click on the Jonah link but missed that one.

Deb_B said...

"Oh for a new reformation once again."


Rick Frueh said...

Obama by his own admission embraces a social gospel so it is no surprise he cannot Scripturally define sin. However John McCain's description of his personal profession of faith is also ambiguous.

Dave Algie said...

Thank you Strong Tower for your perspective on the comments I posted that suggested that calling Obama a moron might be less than helpful.

I would never venture to suggest that Obama's theology is sound in this interview. He seems to be all over the place at times in the interview, doesn't he. I was trying to point out that the quote having him define sin as being anything that didn't align with his values has been misrepresented here, providing fodder for the title "Messiah or moronic?"

In context, the values he is talking about were inherited from his mother who Obama describes as Christian. (He also claims to be "rooted in the Christian tradition")He describes how he wants to pass down such values as honesty and kindness to his daughters. It is after this that he describes sin as being things out of alignment with his values.

Again, perhaps theologically unsound. But not "messianic" in flavor, nor moronic.

I think your definition of "weak definitions" and "amorphous Christianity" maybe a fair description of Obama's definition of his faith in this interview. I however, get a sense that he really is floundering around in genuine confusion. Doubtless there is an element of wanting not to offend a single constituent who might read the interview either! But is "deceiver" a fair label because of this?

Obama has indeed been in Rev Wright's church for some twenty years. Wright speaks highly of James Cone and vice versa and certainly some of Cone's quotations seem racist.

I'm not sure that for all those twenty years Wright has preached undiluted racism from his pulpit. A social gospel certainly. However though it may be theologically unviable this does not necessarily mean overt racism is what Wright's church is all about. Therefore to label Obama a deceiver because you "think" he knows that everything he has heard at church for the past twenty years is a racist doctine warrants careful consideration.

Finally I would be interested in knowing specifially which parts of the interview Obama is "lying in the name of Jesus Christ."

Thanks again.

Dave Algie said...

Steve, thanks for your reply. I still, however, after even more reflection find the way this interview has been portrayed here unfair. I especailly have concerns about the "Messiah or Moronic" title being misleading. "Obama the Postmodernist" as in Goldberg's original column would have been esaier to defend.

Firstly, the word "Messiah" you seem to use here as Rush does, to suggest that Obama considers himself to be Jesus Christ. You and I, all COT readers and perhaps Rush and Obama (?) all have an idea of Jesus being meant when we use the word Messiah. Now, for all the many faults you may consider Obama to have, he hasn't claimed to be Jesus, has he? (You would be unable to use the interview here as evidence for this if the context was looked at carefully.)

If we suggest Obama considers himself to be the Christ and there is in fact no evidence for that, then we are bearing false witness, aren't we? If we claim that Obama hates America and there is no evidence for that we are bearing false witness. Even if we say Obama is a Marxist-Leninist and he is in fact not a Marxist-Leninist we are bearing false witness again.

We must surely look at such strong labels thoughtfully, even prayerfully before we use them against people we have deep suspicions of.

A fine young singer-songwriter once wrote, "The tongue is a fire. It's an evil that no man can tame. It will take you where you want to if you let it. If you learn to play that game."

Strong Tower said...


My point is simply this: Obama makes claims of intellectual acuity fitting the presidency. He also makes truth claims about religion. His two decades in Wright's church afforded him plenty of time to investigate the theology that Wright espoused from the time he entered the pulpit there until he left. Obama's associations with the radical black community is well known. To claim as Obama does, the Christian faith, puts him in a position of responsibility that is higher than that of just a misinformed man on the street. He is standing as one who has authority seeking to be a leader. Much more is expected. By association, the name of Jesus Christ is invoked whenever Obama makes such claims. He spoke definitively concerning universalism and the unreliability of Scripture. He associates Christ's name with lies so he does violate the commandments and takes the Lord's name vainly upon himself and his statements. By misleading the populace he does not show love of neighbor or of God, does he?

Here's the summation, Obama needs to come clean. He can admit that he does not know what he is talking about and apologize, or he can admit that he does know what he is talking about but rejects Chrisitianity. Along with that, he can admit that he does know what Black Liberation Theology is all about and has not been forthcoming, and explain why, or he can admit that he is not well read and is uninformed as to the political ethos that commands the majority of the politicized black community.

What we want from him, just as we wanted from Romney, is definition. Romney proved himself unfit when he morphed Mormonism into Christianity. Who wants a president who is dishonest? It may be true that most of America is ignorant, that is not the issue. It is deceptive and abusive to take advantage of the ignorant. What kind of president would he make if as a candidate he abuses those who he swears to represent? We do know that Obama has claimed fitness for office, but if he does not know what he was doing for twenty years and did not expend the interest in his own life to figure it out, then he is no more fit than most who fill the pew or walk the street. Indeed he is not fit at all.

Obama can come clean and admit his failure to protect his wife and girls from the values of BLT. He surely cannot claim that he is trying to instill in his daughters values of virtue while at the same time exposing them to the radical agenda of Cone and his successors. What we then need from him and those who support him is not the obscurantism that they have become known for, but honesty. That would end his campaign, however.

The claims that have been made about Obama by those who support him are messianic. The question of being a moron arise because he does not articulate intelligently what he claims to know. So it does not matter if he has taken upon himself the mantle of Messiah, he does not reject it, does he? But, that fits with the cult of personality so central to victim theology. BLT as all the other liberationisms require The One who will deliver them. Neither has he made the effort to honestly answer questions about his knowledge of and associations with the leaders of such movements. We are then left with only the two options: either he is a deceiver and does think of himself as the deliverer, or he really is a moron being manipulated by string pullers. I don't think the second is true in the least.

Wright did not need to preach undiluted racism. He only needed to poison the well from time to time. That is not the issue. Wright's purpose from the first was to establish a liberationist congregation. What one would hope is that an "intellect" such a Obama, sitting in the pew, would at some point go home and open up the books to see if the things being said were true. Cone was central to Wright's teaching from the get go. I do not know, but I would bet that Obama has read Cone since Wright was, as Obama claims, his mentor and all, for what does a mentor do, not introduce his apprentice to his traditions? Come now, do you seriously think that Obama is not carrying out what he was discipled in? I cannot imagine that Obama is ignorant of the Black Congressional Caucus nor of the ideology that drives its members. Does he not know Mfume's resume'? Has he followed the shift in the NAACP's mission and vision? Are we to assume that he knows the separatist values of the various liberation movements like La Raza? the AIM? Why is it that the Leftist media has not gone after such connections? Do they think that Obama is The One who can finally bring their aspirations to a head?

Whether Messiah, or moron is a valid question. One that needs to be answered before November.

littlegal_66 said...

dave algie said: "Now, for all the many faults you may consider Obama to have, he hasn't claimed to be Jesus, has he?"

Dave--I don't perceive anyone here as attempting to imply that Barack has proclaimed himself as Messiah. The reality is that myriads of people seem to be flocking & reacting to him as though he is the ultimate savior of the universe. They seem to be resting all their hope in him to solve the world's “problems.” (See the parallel...see the error?) And some media outlets are puffing him up to the point that the Sta-Puff marshmallow man from “Ghostbuster’s” measures as a gnat in comparison. I think that might in part be what Campi is referring to with the phrase "believe your own press release."

Images such as
this one
are a bit disconcerting to me.

(And, they might be less disturbing if Mr. Obama were actually running for office in Germany).;-) Might I go so far as to say that he is being perceived/promoted as the means by which the entire world may have a more abundant life while living here on earth....(at least, that's the implication).


P.S. I would have commented sooner on this thread, but I’ve been out getting my car tuned up and having my tires checked for proper inflation.

Terry Rayburn said...


It's not that anyone is *literally* calling Barack the Messiah, including himself.

It's just that he acts and speaks as though he were really a man of great accomplishment, when he simply isn't -- and were really a man of great new plans of wisdom, which he simply isn't.

As Krauthammer put it in his July 18, 2008 column The Audacity of Vanity,

"Americans are beginning to notice Obama's elevated opinion of himself. There's nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?"

Three other pithy clips:

"As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself."

"In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history -- 'generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment' -- when, among other wonders, 'the rise of the oceans began to slow.' As Hudson Institute economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, 'Moses made the waters recede, but he had help.' Obama apparently works alone."

" the words of his own slogan, 'we are the ones we've been waiting for,' which, translating the royal 'we,' means: 'I am the one we've been waiting for.' Amazingly, he had a quasi-presidential seal with its own Latin inscription affixed to his lectern, until general ridicule -- it was pointed out that he was not yet president -- induced him to take it down."

Messiah [figuratively speaking, Dave] or delusional?


Patrick said...

Once again, the Obamanation of Desolation

Dave Algie said...

Strong Tower, thanks for making the effort to explain what you meant by "lying in the name of Jesus Christ." The way I read your explanation is that anyone who claims to be a Christian and tells a lie is telling lies in the name of Jesus Christ. Does this mean then that all people (such as myself) who have told a lie since confessing Christ were lying in the name of Jesus Christ? And then all my other multitudes of sins were also done in the name of Jesus Christ? If this is biblicaly sound, I am willing to accept the concept that Obama has possibly lied in the name of Jesus Christ. I must sadly add myself to the list of people who have sinned while claiming to be Christian. I suspect the list is a long one and that labelling Obama as being such a man may be accurate but singling him out for some unfair attention.

But, I get it. He is putting himself forward as a person running for office on a basis of his claimed capability and integrity and thus is fair game for scrutiny.

However, has he lied in the way you claim? Your posting largely dwells on Obama having lied by not truly representing his beliefs, which I take it you seem to think are of a racist and hateful theology.

The church Obama has attended for twenty years might not match your theology, Strong Tower. You may argue that it presents a social gospel that you do not consider real Christianity at all. In addition, Rev Wright has been heard to refer to James Hal Cone as being an inspiration. On the other hand, I have read accounts that the church do a great many good works, that white members of the congregation are warmly welcomed there and that Reverend Wright firmly rejects any suggestion of black superiority. As he should! And those things do not make a church a Christian church. But they do suggest that insinuations that it is a racist hate-filled breeding ground for bigotry are misrepresentations.

I have now spent hours viewing video clips of Reverend Wright. I find him to be an obnoxious buffoon a great deal of the time. He often has a smugness about him I can't easily stand. However I have never heard him utter anything racist. He's said some crass things which offend me in their smutty innuendo. He's also said some things that strike me as a bit loopy. But, Strong Tower, do you have evidence that while Obama was at Wright's church he ever heard a racist theology preached?

Thanks again for your perspective.

Dave Algie said...

Littlegal, thanks for your comment about the use of the word Messiah in this context.

I take your point. It could be said that this word has been used here not because of what Obama has claimed about himself but rather because of the way his "fans" see him.

Nonetheless, I am still uncomfortable as it remains potentially misleading, especially used here over an introduction that suggests Obama claims sin is anything he does not personally agree with. The interview in full makes it clear that Obama is referring to a set of values inherited from his mother and grandparents and is largely influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Maybe he isn't as good at theology as he is at whipping up European crowds. But let's be accurate about him, even as we subject him to scrutiny.

Hope the car is tuned up perfectly and the tyres are just right. Have a good day.

Dave Algie said...

Hi Terry. I read the whole column. Pithy indeed! Witty and very cutting.

Obama's speeches in general do suggest that grandiose levels of change are going to come. But if you look at the whole text he usually suggests that it is from the changes his audiences are going to make in the world rather than what he he will achieve alone with his superpowers. Krauthammer cleverly twists this by suggesting Obama is using the royal "we" in his speech. Great stuff.

Thanks for the link. I enjoyed the column.

Strong Tower said...


Take off the blinders. According to Rev Wright he is not a "superiorty" racist, he is racist none the less:

"Systematized Black liberation theology is 40 years old. Scholars of African and African American religious history show that Black liberation theology, however, has been in existence for 400 years. It is found in the songs, the sermons, the testimonies and the oral literature of Africans throughout the Diaspora."

This propaganda piece is found at the end of Rev Wright's talking points. What Diaspora? What 400 years (interesting play on Israel's captivity in Egypt). Does he mean the 400 years of African slave trade that still goes on in Africa? Does he mean that the slavers that were black that occupied the African continent before 400 years ago were not black? Does he mean the black's who were freed men who owned blacks in this country? The fact is that his church has been from his takeover forward steeped in BLT, a thoroughly race based faith, and not Christian at all. How can anyone explain his bastardization of history? The point that I made was that O claimed that Wright was his mentor and O could hardly not be aware of this statement found at the church's website. Or is O really that stupid? You'll be hard pressed to find any mentor who does not disciple his apprentice in what he believes and this is what Wright professes he believes. In twenty years of association it would be the height of absurdity to think that Wright never mentioned to Obama Cone's racist doctrine, wouldn't it? As I said, add to that O's affections for radical separtists like Farrakhan as well as radical Marxists like Ayers and we do not have to guess at O's orientation before becoming a political figure. Question is why it is being suppressed by the liberal media.

Look at Wright's church website: "The Center for African Biblical Studies is AFRICAN-CENTERED...seeking to implement and promote Bible Study from an African perspective." Not racist, eh? Ah, would you promote a certain perspective if you did not think it superior? Surely if it was only an equal then it wouldn't matter whether it is promoted over another, would it?

Wright goes on: "Because…“We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian...our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and we remain “true to our native land”, the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation; and we constantly affirm our trust in God through the cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black community."

The fact is BLT is anything but Christian and not just something with which I disagree. As this statement proves along with others found at the sight, Wright's view is that the "we are a people" sets the African aside as a special people. It usurps the unique role of Israel as God's covenant bearer. Is Africa the mother continent? Are Africans the source, is Obama the one who they have been waiting for all these years? BLT sets up what is known as the black hermeneutic by which everything in Scripture is filter through the eyes of those who have determined what the black experience is as if what the elite black ministers think is the monolithic history of African peoples. It is a sham, the exploitation of ignorance, and Obama knows it or he is a moron. The reality: he is a Jesse Jackson, an exploiter of bitterness.

No you are not liar in the name of Jesus. But, unlike Obama, you are not being asked as an authority figure seeking leadership to define the faith, either. Obama is and has. Beyond that, as I said he is disengenuous is expecting that no one will call him to account because he thinks that no one else really knows. Now, I think that a bit arrogant and superior, don't you?

Make yourself familiar with the theology that O is steeped in which finds common ground with: "Black theology cannot accept a view of God which does not represent God as being for oppressed blacks and thus against white oppressors. Living in a world of white oppressors, blacks have no time for a neutral God. The brutalities are too great and the pain too severe, and this means we must know where God is and what God is doing in the revolution. There is no use for a God who loves white oppressors the same as oppressed blacks. We have had too much of white love, the love that tells blacks to turn the other cheek and go the second mile. What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject God's love." Add to this that Cone held that all whites are oppressors, that Cone endorsed Wright's church as the number one organization in the revolution, that Wright claims Cone as his hero, that Obama was mentored in by Wright and what do you get? Regardless of Obama's feigned distancing from Wright, Obama has not been forth coming in the racial superiority ethics of the BLT with which he is so familiar. Nelson Mandela made similar statements while he was the leader of a BLT faction that carried out terrorist acts. He was deified by the left wing media. From such simple beginnings, if you want to trace fascist rhetoric, you'll find this mentality repeatedly, expressed in propaganda such as the Jewish oppressors who rule the world, control the banks and oppress all others especially the German people who so long were held captive to the Hebrew God, or so Hitler would say as he advanced the cause of the workers party. Victimology needs an oppressor and the leaders are all to willing to exploit ignorance for personal agrandizement. Cone's call for the destruction of the white race echoes Farrakhan. The NOI claims racial superiority due to the fact that they are an oppressed people, the chosen ones of God, beset by the white devil who God has given over to the black race to destroy. Sound too conspiritorial? Then your memory of recent history is lacking.

Go back and listen to Wright again through the presuppositions that his theology lays out. It will take on a whole different meaning. If you cannot understand, then think of O's pedigree. When and if O comes out and admits his knowledge and denounces Wright's theology and Cone and Trinity and the entire Black Power movement, then maybe he can begin to be trusted.

You said: "But they do suggest that insinuations that it is a racist hate-filled breeding ground for bigotry are misrepresentations." Well, the only thing I can say is that you must be forgetting who and what the Fasci and the Nazi movements were all about. They were about social change and were deeply involved in good social works. My feeling is that you are more willing to excuse core ideology because of externals than to take an indepth look at what drives the social expression. Do not be deceived, look at the NOI and what it does in the inner city. Does what they do as far as social amelioration change who they are?

JustJan said...

Either his memory really stinks or he clearly says what he thinks the interviewer wants to hear.

In the 2004 interview he is nearly boasting about his regular attendance at Trinity.

Later when the problems with the theology at Trinity come to light he says that their attendance was sporadic and uses the popularity of Trinity as an excuse and his daughter as a scapegoat - as in who doesn't understand the problems that come with taking young children into a worship service.

Even in a postmodern world, I am pretty sure that he wasn't both a regular and a sporadic attendee at Trinity.

Dave Algie said...

Thanks Strong Tower for again responding to my questions in some depth.

Much of what you quote here from Wright and his church does not seem to me to be racist. Especially the first quote. What is racist about it? You are correct in saying that Africans have oppressed and still do oppress other Africans. However, the 400 years Wright refers to of African American experience of oppression was in America where African Americans were predominantly oppressed by whites. Even so, he never directs a single criticism of white oppression in this very quote! How is this quote racist?

Your second quote - from Wright's church website where he says his church approaches the Bible from an African perspective also does not seem racist. The key here is that African Americans have been oppressed and that Wright's congregants approach the Bible from the point of view of an oppressed people, seeing in it a concern for justice on God's part. This resonates with them. Is that racist?

The one quote that does sound to have insidious content is the one, I presume from Cone that says the oppressed have God's blessing to "destroy" the oppressors" by any means necessary. This I believe is wrong, in the same way that the American Revolution may have been wrong. I am sure that God does not condone the destruction of opressors by any means necessary, whether you're fighting a taxation system you find unfair, or you are fighting a system that has enslaved you.

However this a quote from Cone not Wright is it not? I have never heard of Wright calling for the destruction of white oppressors, and probably Obama hasn't either.

I know that there are connections between Wright, and Cone and Farrakhan. But Obama has "denounced and rejected" Farrakhan and Obama's words in speech after speech speak of inclusiveness and reconciliation not at all reminiscent of Cone's words above. Obama has even distanced himself from Wright.

Even aside from this, guilt by association as a means of accusing someone of facism or racism needs to be carefully handled. Even if, as you have yet to do, you supplied a quote showing racism was ever preached at Wright's church, , would it make Obama a racist? Would Obama be morally bound to leave a church if he did hear a racist comment from his pastor? You and I would never distance ourselves from the bulk of Martin Luther's teachings or beliefs because he said and wrote viciously racist things would we? We would distance ourselves from his sinful and hate-filled rants while still valuing the truths we believe he was chosen to convey to the world. Now, I would never say Rev. Wright is an equal in any way to Luther! I don't want to be the first person ever laughed off COT. But the illustration is used to show that Obama could have spent 20 years at Wright's church because he found much of value, while still distancing himself from anything he may have heard that was racist.

Strong Tower, I have enjoyed discussing this with you. I look forward to your reply if you choose to write one. However, I do feel that I need to be sensitive about using this forum, Steve's blog for further debate on BLT and Obama. I think I should gracefully leave off this particular discussion here for now, out of respect to it being Steve's blog, and the fact that the thread might be winding down.

I shall ponder further on what you have written, do more research and reading, and hopefully -if I have blinders on- remove them.

Thanks again.

Strong Tower said...

Thanks dave for your gracious reply.

I am not implying that O even holds to these teachings. Wright extols Cone and vice verse. My only point was that O should know and should be forthcoming, but that would cost him the election. He cannot claim erudition and expertise about issues affecting the U.S. in any realm without fundamental knowledge of those issues. He must know that much of the racial divide has been perpetuated by the likes of Wright. If he truly wants change then it would seem that he would enunciate the perpetuation of racism that is surely found in BLT and of those who hold it or some form of it. But, the he would join Keyes though in falling out of favor with the black political community and liberals in general. I find it incredible that O identifies with only half of his genetic pool. He has put himself in the starting gate of the first black candidate. But, he is not black, is he? He is actuall part of the estimated majority of American people with African ancestry that are also of European decent. What purpose does O have in suppressing the idea that within himself he has bridged the racial divide. In taking the tact that he is the first presumptive black candidate he divides himself against his own household. How then can he stand?

It troubles me that you cannot see the racism in the black hermenuetic. A hermenuetic is the rule for interpretation. Will not the outcome of such a beginning presupposition favor itself over another? Is it race neutral? Not at all, and it is contrary to the basic hermenuetic of Biblical interpretation which is Christ and the clear reality that the story is not about race, nor even the struggles of peoples, but Christ, which is why Scripture clearly declares that there is no such division in Him. That is why BLT and Trinity's gospel is not Christian. To create such a division is by its nature political. O has not been short on using race to divide no matter his rhetoric on unity. In his speeches, no matter how progressive and ameliorating the surface intent, it must be tendered with what basic worldview he might hold. That is what we need to know: does he or does he not hold to the black hermenuetic?

Again, I have enjoyed this exchange too and have not meant to accuse O of any conspiracy, only to ask why the obfuscation? So the questions remain since he is practicing obscurantism, does he believe in the BLT ethics or is he an uniformed candidate. If the first then the follow-up, does he believe himself The One who will deliver his people. As you read Wright's talking points (his decalogue) this "we are a people" is all too encrusted with Cone. Believing themselves to be a people to be delivered requires as I said, a Deliverer. If as O said, "The time is now" is not just a platitude but an expression of his view of himself and the "revolution" then Steve's proposition fits like skin on tissue.

God bless,