FAITH AND FOLLY
First I am going to note a website that has received publicity which proclaims faith but proves folly. Then I will get into the faith and folly of the four candidates for President and Vice President.
Ever heard of Matthew25.org? It is one of those sites that exists to identify a candidate with the true Christian position. Both sides have them. Some exaggerate and misrepresent. I am not saying that this one is any worse than ones on the right, but this one is being talked about. The premise of this one is that Christians should vote for Barack Obama because he truly cares for the poor. It is honchoed by Mara Vanderslice who also worked for Kerry/Edwards in 2004. I used to belong to Sojourners, Jim Wallis' group, probably the premier Christian left organization. Unfortunately, groups like this, whether left or right, who take their cues from political party talking points are a poor reflection on the church. It is another thinly veiled bitterly partisan site where truth is in short supply. When people on sites like this state that Barack Obama came up on food stamps when he mostly lived in Hawaii with his grandmother who was a Bank Vice President (when he wasn't in Indonesia which doesn't have Food Stamps), and when they criticize Sarah Palin for criticizing their hero, ignoring the extreme subterfuge in their own campaign, there is no credibility. Only the naive and the uninformed run with the information gleaned from sites such as these.
I have duly noted that historically (with the notable exception of the super-rich John Kerry who married into the Heinz fortine), those who press for more government to solve the problems of the poor and afflicted are the LEAST likely to exercise compassion out of their own pocketbooks. Jesus never pressed for government help - he preached tirelessly for us to help each other, and that was the hallmark of Pentecost in the early church. Joe Biden’s paltry $379 for charity last year is under 25% of the average giving in real dollars by our most impoverished citizens, those earning under $15,000 per year. Al Gore was even more stingy at about $100 less than that meager sum. Barack Obama’s giving was likewise dismal until he ran for president and then it shot up to about 6%, still not much when he earned $4 million dollars last year. He has no history I can find of special concern for the poor other than as an object of his political involvement. His half-brother lives in a 6x10 foot hut in Kenya on $12 per year. This is egregious when you consider Obama testified on Rick Warren's forum that America's greatest moral failing was not being our brother's keeper. As one who gave years of my life to help exclusively the poor, I know many in that endeavor do it for many reasons, some sincere, and some not. In contrast, John McCain, whom Dave Letterman pillaried as stingy, gave away 25% of his income. We all know that PRIVATE money accomplishes things far more effectively than PUBLIC money, much of which supports a managerial and administrative class that supports themselves on the poverty industry. Jesus chastised the Pharisees for the practice of “corban”, which is giving away other people’s money. The Pharisees told their parents, we are giving what we would have given to you to God. Nothing is new under the sun.
To use the scriptures to advance the candidacy of two who have not proven to be friends to the poor from their own pockets, and adding insult to injury, the very visible slums built through Barack's corrupt alliances and the less visible people in despair ravaged by high interest rates and nefarious fees from the credit card industry who has Joe Biden in their hip pocket is beyond the pale. NO CHRISTIAN who has the slightest sophistication in knowing the truth would fall for this old wives' tale.
Many old wives' tales persist about the candidates as well. Let's look at the faith of each the candidates and demythologize there. We'll start with John McCain. He is easiest. He was an Episcopalian who relied more on himself than on God until a POW. He learned how to pray, and when the right was finally given. preached at the Hanoi Hilton. He basically did the Episcopalian liturgy which he knew by heart. After some extreme moral failures when he came back, he started to attend the North Phoenix Baptist Church. His second wife Cindy was baptized there. He is still not a member, not having been baptized. He said he wasn't doing it in the political season to avoid being misinterpreted. Why he didn't do it earlier? Who knows - we can only guess. He calls himself a Christian, not a Baptist, and say he goes to that church because he finds the preaching relevant for him. McCain told the watchers of Rick Warren's Saddleback Forum he was "saved and forgiven". In his writing, he is big on redemption. He realizes men need redemption. He also is turned off by the concept of a "vengeful God". In McCain's words, "I've sort of evolved in my religious faith. And I think probably because of my failings and mistakes in life I'm a much bigger believer in redemption. I really believe that redemption is a very important part of our religion. I'm much more of a believer in a loving God, a personal God. I'm much less inclined in every way to believe in a vengeful God." Like many evangelicals, hell isn't a concept he warms up to. He is also very private about his beliefs and seems to want to keep it that way. Only God knows a man's heart, and McCain's reticence to talk about his faith in other than general terms will likely keep that relationship rather private.
On the other hand, Barack Obama talks about his faith and calls himself a Christian often. We know much more about what he means by that than we do about Senator McCain because he freely talks about his beliefs in depth and an entire book was written about it called appropriately enough "The Faith of Barack Obama" by Steven Mansfield of the New York Times. I recommend it if you have $19.99 to spare. George Gallup consistently finds that if asked if they are born again, most Americans say they are. George Barna is more realistic and asks people to define what constitutes true Christianity. Only a small percentage, fewer than 8% of our nation can answer that accurately. While it is possible that some who can't explain it can still be saved, I take people's word for things. Barack notes that he accepts parts of the Bible, but is incredulous about other parts. He identifies with the suffering of Christ, but is leery about the resurrection. He doesn't see a relationship with Jesus as giving one's life to him, but getting validation for what one already believes. In other words, he isn't embracing Jesus in a way to change him, but to find resolution within himself. Mansfield writes that Barack “was seeking a vessel for his values, a community of shared traditions in which to ground his most deeply held beliefs.” This is rather narcissistic, which matches other character traits he has exhibited in the campaign. Barack was launched of course in 2004's Democratic convention (I believe that speech was far better than the 2008 one - it was far less political than this year's and struck a chord with so many including myself), and Oprah has a major influence on him. Oprah used to attend the same Trinity United Church of Christ, part of one of America's most liberal denominations which accepted homosexual clergy over 30 years ago. This church obviously did not have a small sieve in terms of classifying a person as a Christian. Oprah is thoroughly New Age, a devotee of Eckhart Tolle, who quotes Jesus while denying him. Obama's twisted faith parallel's Tolle's. Oprah actually called Obama "The Truth", a term reserved for Jesus Christ in John 14:6. When you understand the milieu, one can perfectly understand why Obama calls himself a Christian while using the New Age phrase "This present moment" FOURTEEN times in his speech in Berlin. (Google the term if you want to find herbs to use while surfing ObamaforAmerica.com). One can also understand why abortion and homosexuality are no issue to him. Those parts of the Bible are among the ones he finds too hard to believe and accept. He appeals to post-modern (and post-Christian people). No one in the secular media or academia criticizes Obama for being a Christian because they instinctively KNOW that he is not a part of the blood-washed Body of Christ they so vehemently despise. You have to believe that Christ is risen from the dead in order to be saved. You have to repent in order to be saved. Those essentials are by his own admission not at all part of his experience.
Joe Biden is a Catholic by tradition. He has strong family values as attested to by how he responded after his wife was killed. Unless there is some skeleton in his closet, he handled the death of his wife far better than John McCain handled the severe injuries to his first wife Carol, who he unceremoniously dumped for new current wife Cindy. Joe has migrated from a moderate on abortion to a flaming liberal, supporting the infamous Freedom of Choice Act, which enshrines the flawed Roe v Wade, but with none of the limits and without the possibility of reopening it when medical evidence calls into question the time of viability (news-flash, it did that long ago), eliminates state restrictions such as Parental Notification, legalizes Partial Birth Abortion, and forces taxpayers to pay for abortions whether they believe in them or not (typical left-wing dictatorship of the ignorant semi-Christian proletariat. Joe has been in a tussle with numerous Catholic bishops who will not let him have communion. He is in open rebellion against the leadership of the church he CHOSE to remain associated with, without the integrity to leave if his conscience really bothered him (hint - it is not his conscience that is bothering him). Joe's loose handling of the truth pretty much resigns him to a classical religionist who is his own authority, picking and choosing as at a religious buffet.
Sarah Palin was Catholic and then Pentecostal. He former pastor recounts leading her to accept Christ at the age of 12. Her life seems to be one adventure after another, with six colleges, an elopement while pregnant, and a hard-charging take-no-prisoners career. I have seen the videos of her sharing in her church and receiving the laying on of hands from a Kenyan pastor and all the rest. She seems to be genuine in her faith and has attended various churches. She listens to personal prophecy (I have seen and read accounts), and earnestly believes that God does want to use her. Many Christians are satisfied with this. Time will tell. I have noticed rather extreme ups and downs. I believe she has been tied down a bit by handlers, and if so will surely suffocate. I noted in "Disappointment" how I felt when she said she wasn't trying to convert anyone. That IS the Great Commission. If she simply prays and trusts God and lets him put words in her mouth, she has unlimited potential. If she lets herself just be a good Republican, she will follow in the steps of Democrat Bill Clinton. You will remember that Francis Frangipane prophesied that God had great plans for our country under Bill Clinton, but Bill would not let go of his lusts and demons, and what could have been a GREAT Presidency was less than the promise despite some real economic successes which became unglued the last year or so. Kids starting doing a "Monica" and the moral decline and the laissez-faire toward terrorists which led to 9/11 yield a tragic story of promise unfulfilled. I believe that God has given Sarah Palin a lot of favor, but she has to rely on God not herself. The people that God uses are often the least-qualified on paper. It is the anointing that makes the difference. Daniel went into strange territory in Babylon. He learned the culture and ways and remained true to his God. God promoted him above all those with "experience". Daniel admitted he was no better than anyone else. He gave all the credit to God. She will need to study hard but more importantly let GOD give her wisdom.
Barack Obama and Sarah Palin could both be phenomenal under the anointing. Barack has by his own clear admission not yielded his life to Christ, so he is in the flesh and that is bound to fail. Sarah did yield her life to Christ, but as we all well know, that is a continuous process, and she will have to get on her face before God and allow him to fill her fresh with his Holy Spirit in order for her incredible ride to continue.