President Obama, Faith, And Authority


I don’t know if I can articulate my thoughts adequately in a blog post, but I’ll give it a try. I apologize ahead of time for offending people, because that seems to be the rule of the day — someone speaks their opinion and someone else gets offended; the first someone then clarifies their opinion, but in the end apologizes for it. This way I’ll take care of the apology right off the top. 😀

The opinion, offense, clarification, apology round occurred yet again last February and the first someone was Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The second someone would be those who thought it necessary to defend President Obama, because it seems Mr. Graham said he didn’t know if our President is a Christian. This offended some, in particular those who think President Obama should be taken at his word, and he says he’s a Christian.

It seems he knows quite well what Christianity is about. A year ago at the Easter Prayer Breakfast, he said in part

“But then comes … the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And we’re reminded that in that moment, [Jesus] took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.”

I read those lines with my understanding of Scripture and nod my head. The President has it right.

But what if …

Could he mean that Jesus taking on the sins of the world brought salvation to each person in the world regardless of his faith in or rejection of Christ? Other public statements the President has said don’t rule out that possibility. In fact, they more nearly corroborate it. This for example:

“I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck — no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose — His purpose.” (From the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 6, 2009 quoted in “President Obama’s ‘theology,’ in his own words”)

Is President Obama a Christian? I don’t know. I do believe from his recent comments about the Supreme Court, however, that he sees himself as above the authority of the Constitution, and that gives me pause.

The news hasn’t done a particularly good job of following this story, I don’t think, but in a nutshell, this is the situation. President Obama made comments on Monday that can be described as pressure tactics directed at the Supreme Court, stating that it would be “unprecedented” for them to declare Obamacare unconstitutional, that this would be the hallmark of an “activist” court, something conservatives decry.

The reason conservatives stand against an activist court is because the Constitution gives Congress the right to make federal law. When the courts do so, they are usurping authority.

Is President Obama right that the court would be taking unprecedented action? Well, no, and he knows it.

The Supreme Court, for the most part, is an appellate court, meaning that it reviews the decisions of other courts. In 1803, thirteen years after the Constitution was ratified, the case of Marbury vs. Madison established what has become known as judicial review — the Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of other laws.

President Obama, with his degree from Harvard Law School and his lectures in Constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, certainly knows this.

Furthermore, Mr. Obama asserted that Obamacare was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” when, in fact, it squeaked by in both the House and the Senate.

The health care law wasn’t passed by a “strong majority,” but rather by a small majority through a technical “reconciliation” measure in the Senate to avoid a filibuster, and a narrow vote in the House that didn’t include a single Republican supporting it. House Speaker John Boehner’s office has made a point of reminding the media of the vote — 219-212 in the House, including 34 Democrats who voted against it (from “In Obama vs. Supreme Court, Politics Knows No Bounds”)

The Los Angeles Times makes another interesting observation — even if Obamacare had passed by huge margins, the numbers would not play any part in a decision about the constitutionality of the law.

Furthermore, the implication of the remark was that the number of votes in favor of a bill was somehow relevant to its constitutionality. It’s not. Otherwise, whichever party or point of view is in the majority would be free to tyrannize the minority. (from “Obama’s Supreme Court comments off the mark”)

What troubles me, then, is this willingness on the President’s part to play above the law and above truth. If he is prone to bend the law he has sworn to uphold and politicize the truth to make his case, what does he think about God’s authority?

Don’t his actions regarding abortion indicate that he is also playing above God’s clear instruction not to kill? Can anyone who has read the Bible miss how heinous God considers child sacrifice?

They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:35)

(Yes, yes, I know — there are also stories of bloody massacres in the Bible, but that’s got a different context. There is no wiggle room when it comes to God’s attitude about killing children in the process of worshiping a false god. Abortion is nothing less than killing babies in the process of worshiping self or freedom or a woman’s right to choose).

Part of President Obama’s remarks on Monday appealed to the human element — the fact that people’s lives will be affected. I believe he is acting in good faith. He thinks mandated health care will solve a problem, that it will help people. Just like abortion helps women with unwanted pregnancies.

The human element set over the law puts some person in the position of deciding which humans are going to be affected favorably and which adversely. It says a person, not the Law governing the land, is to decide what is right. And not the Law of God.

Published in: on April 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm  Comments (8)  
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