Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Christian View of the President

Today President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, which caused me to consider how we Americans (and especially evangelical Christian Americans)  tend to handle our thoughts about the faith of our Presidents.  As I contemplated this, it occurred to me that either we're not being honest with others or we're not being honest with ourselves.

The Christian Right championed George W. Bush, largely because he publicly  proclaimed that he trusted in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  They then by-and-large gave him a pass when he said distinctly non-evangelical things like the Bible is not literally true, Muslims and Christians worship the same God, and we all go to heaven.

Yet when President Obama speaks (as he did today) about how, "I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and to embrace Him as my Lord and Savior," it is assumed by many of those same people who supported President Bush that President Obama must be lying about his faith.  And whenever he says anything that is even vaguely conciliatory toward Islam, he is branded as being a closet Muslim.

The purpose of this post is not to suggest what either man actually believes -- frankly, I have no idea.  Nor is its purpose to convince you that you should like Barack Obama's policies as President.  He certainly (like President Bush) has political positions to which I take great exception.

It is just to point out that perhaps we are too quick to claim someone is in our religious camp because he shares our political viewpoints, or to separate from them because they don't.  Perhaps a better attitude toward our Presidents (Democrat or Republican, Christian or non-Christian) would simply be to honor them (1 Peter 2:17), to submit to governing authorities, realizing that all authority comes from God (Romans 13:1) and to offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for them (1 Timothy 2:1). That, I think, would be a truly Christian way to act.


Holly said...

Thank you for speakly plainly, clearly and humbly, Pete. I am a staunch Independent mainly because of the very reasons that you mentioned that make others so quick to align themselves with a particular political party. I believe Jesus is Lord and I consider us pretty good friends but sometimes I don't know what to do with myself politically because I am completely Pro-Life (anti abortion AND anti death penalty), I welcome the alien in our midst while also wanting to protect ourselves from terrorists...the list of "contradictions" goes on and on.
Ultimately, I don't know the hearts of men and women, only God does. I guess I should embrace the huge burden that takes off of me, huh?

Brett Barton said...

Philip Yancey in his wonderful book "What's So Amazing About Grace?" turned off many evangelical Christians with his positive portrayal of the president and first lady at the time of that book's writing: Bill and Hilary Clinton. As a result of reading that book, I have been forever changed in my view of politics and the role that we as followers of Jesus should have in our political stands. The verse that I like to contemplate in this regard is Proverbs 21:1: "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes."

Pete Scribner said...

Thanks Holly and Brett for your comments. I find with politics (as with just about every other area of life), we tend to want to separate the world into good guys and bad guys...the bad guys of course being anyone who does not think/act like us.

While I am quite willing to uphold the good guy/bad guy distinction, it is necessary for me to constantly be reminded that there is only one person on the "good guy" list. Whatever good is in the rest of us is only there by means of His grace.

Cory said...

Well said, dude.