I think it is important to say from the outset that whether or not the President of the United States is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or acribes to any other religious affiliation isn’t of paramount importance politically. Like Joe Carter, I do, however, think it is important to know what theological convictions I may have in common with the Commander-in-Chief, especially when this particular Commander-in-Chief claims to worship within the Christian faith.

Whether right or wrong, Barack Obama’s faith has been much debated throughout his rise to the Presidency. While many within conservative and some evangelical circles have pressed hard to unfairly caricature Obama as a closet Muslim with a hidden agenda, Obama himself has explicitly said that he is a Christian. He couldn’t have stated this any clearer than he did in his interview with Cathleen Falsani (“I am a Christian. So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.”)

But to take Obama’s statement of Christian faith at face value would be irresponsible, primarily not because we should question the sincerity of Obama’s claim, but because we should question the validity of his claim in relationship to what the Scriptures have revealed to us about God and the Gospel. The reason for this is that the Scriptures value the application of both wisdom and discernment in regards to the authenticity of claims to biblical faith. It is for this resaon that Falsani’s interview with the then Illinois State Senator Obama provides both fascinating and troubling insight into the faith of Obama.

With Obama’s own words on record with Falsani as evidence, I must say without hesitation, but without any boasting joy and with deep sorrow, that Barack Obama is not a Christian in the biblical sense of the word. Again, the issue here is not the sincerity of Obama’s faith. The issue is this: Does what Obama believes about God, Jesus, the Scriptures, Hell, conversion and the Gospel consistent with what the Scriptures reveal to us? Now, to say that he isn’t a Christian in a biblical sense is not the same thing as declaring that he isn’t a Christian. It is possible, though admittedly unlikely based on Obama’s own words about God and the Gospel, that Obama could be an immature Christian with theological convictions formed out of ignorance of God’s Word. Only the Triune God ultimately knows the intentions of Obama’s heart. But what is clear is that Obama’s theology doesn’t mesh with clear Scriptural teaching on primary matters essential to the Gospel.

I encourage you to read the interview in its entirety but here is basically what we can glean from it:

  1. Barack Obama is a religious pluralist and universalist. He incorporates elements of various world religions into his own expression of faith. He is, by his own admission, highly tolerant of other religious worldviews and sees all non-violent sincere religious expressions of faith as valid paths to God.
  2. Religion is more about how we treat other people than it is about God. This is a common thread in his interview with Falsani.
  3. Obama is a self-worshiper. On multiple occasions he talks about how his “inner voice” serves as his moral compass and that the standard for what is sinful is rooted within his own values. By his own admission, there isn’t an absolute moral authority that stands outside of himself, primarily because he believes that “…I’m not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I’ve got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.”
  4. He believes Jesus is a historical figure (which is true but Jesus isn’t only an historical figure). To Obama’s credit he does see Jesus as the mediator between God and man, but he fails to speak about Jesus as the Son of God in any way that points to his divinity.
  5. Obama does not believe that those who do not worship God through Jesus in the Christian faith will go to hell, which is directly contradictory to the teachings of Scripture.
  6. He believes that sin is “being out of alignment with my values”.  Sin, then, isn’t an issue of God’s holiness or man’s rebellion against holy God. It’s an issue of betraying one’s own culturally-aligned values.
  7. He believes he is most aligned spiritually when “he is being true to himself” rather than seeking only to know “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1Cor 2:2).

There is more to say but I think the point is clear. Obama isn’t a Christian in the biblical sense of the word. He is silent and even contradictory on the nature of Jesus’ divinity, he denies the exclusivity of Christ, he is ambigious on his views of eternity and heaven, he outright rejects Hell as an acceptable form of eternal punishment for God’s enemies, and he is a universalist (or at least is sympathetic to universalism).

Why is this important? Because it should give some shape to the way that we pray for President-Elect Obama. I have been praying that if Obama is indeed a Christian man, that God would work in his heart in regards to “wedge” issues such as abortion. But the is more at stake here than Christian man who is off-center on significant moral issues. Obama may sincerely believe he has confessed Christ, but much of what he believes about Christ is not consisent with the Gospel, and this, at best, puts a question mark of the legitimacy of his confession. This kind of insight should helps us know how to pray for Obama and his family.

The Scriptures make it clear that it is appropriate to examine our faith (and the faith of others) in light of the Gospel, not for the sake of condemnation, but for the sake of bringing our faith, which is governed to some degree by wicked, sinful, deceitful hearts (Jer 17:9), into conformity with the Gospel. This is what we should pray for Obama. We should pray that his sincere confession of faith in the person of Jesus would be brought into line with what the Scriptures teach us about Jesus and that the effect would be that he would become a wholly Christian man in both the biblical and experiential sense of the word.