Yes, I know, some will say that calling Obama a heretic is an absurd statement. Yet, the fact is, you can’t be a Christian at all, even a liberal one, if you deny the essentials of the Christian faith. To do so makes you a heretic.
Now, we shouldn’t be surprised that Franklin Graham cannot tell the difference. After all, the fruit in that family hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
But that brings up another point. Billy Graham has said essentially just what Obama has said, just what Franklin said (which strangely enough, son of another former Southern Baptist, Joel Osteen said. It makes one think that there is something in the baptismal waters of the SBC). But, you won’t find Denny Burk padding the deck in reference to the heretic idolized by the SBC by saying his universalism is merely liberal Christianity. It isn’t merely liberal Christianity, BG is a heretic. On the other hand, he is SBC, so it doesn’t matter what he believes, they have autonomous soul competency, and no one can tell them what they must believe, after all, the Scripture is wide open for personal interpretation. So, Billy Graham is well within his rights as a Southern Baptist to deny the faith, but not within the bounds of Christianity to do so.
Michael Horton, though, brings some necessary balance. It simply doesn’t matter that there is or is not a Christian in the White House. There has rarely, and perhaps has not ever, been one there. It does matter what one’s world view is. For that is what will dictate the President’s leadership for the common good:
Yet believers also must stop expecting politicians to double as high priests of a false religion, an idolatrous religion, that substitutes real confessional communities for a generic moralism. Even where a candidate’s confession differs from our own, we have to ask what we’re looking for in our political leaders. Are we seeking an icon who will reassure us that even in a wildly pluralistic and relativistic society we are the ones in the right, safely ensconced in the walls of absolute truth? Or do we have the more modest goal of electing presidents who will eschew any messianic mantle and pursue policies that we believe are more likely to do more good than harm to the republic’s common good and the Constitution that they swear to uphold?
On all points Obama fails. He won’t take a stand one way or the other, really. And in that he is postmodern, without any foundation for decision-making. That is why he fails in the pursuit of good and right for the republic. He has no right, nor any good, that is inviolable.
We, in a republic, elect not a person who will do the will of the people, or even his own will, that is either a bare democracy or a dictatorship. We elect those who will, hopefully, govern in such a way that what is in view is the right and good of the people despite what they think is in their best interests, or what is in the best interests of the office holder. The reason that we have disagreements as to the best course our country can take is based upon this very thing, that not all people agree as to what is the right and good. It is far easier to determine when the candidate is patronizing or self-aggrandizing, than to know that they are pursuing the right and good. Regardless, we elect, though blindly with such hopes, based upon what can be known about the absolute unwillingness of the candidate to compromise his own ethos.
Pigeon-holing a President by applying a religious test is the furthest thing from the considerations of those who established the free exercise clause and exempted the faith of the individuals for public office from any religious qualifications for office. And as Michael says, it is simply idolatry. Still, we must consider what they believe, and establish as far as is possible that they are sincere in those beliefs.
Too often, as Horton explains, Christians fall for the trap that a person’s particular belief system is the qualifier. And while all Christians would like it if a Christian was elected, those who would run for office on their faith are usually the furthest from it. Obama needs to be tested in other ways. One of those is his claim to be a Christian. That is a lie. But it is not the fact that he is not, but the fact that he lies about it. The same can be said of Romney. He is a liar, and that is the liability that disqualifies him. Indeed, it is the integrity of the individual, his “best” effort to toe the line on his world view’s out working in policy making that is what we should look for in a candidate. When a candidate cannot hold consistently in their testimony before the people about what they believe, then we have every reason to suspect they will be untrustworthy in discharging the duties of the office.
Examine what a person believes. But let it evaluate itself. If it is self-contradictory, then that person is a contradiction of truth and not the person who can be trusted to carry out the mandates of the pursuit of what is the right and the good for we the people.