Monday, September 15, 2008

New Age or Christianity? What's Your Choice?

A few weeks ago, Michael Hyatt, President & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers offered a free copy of the book The Faith of Barack Obama written by Stephen Mansfield to any blogger willing to review the book. Although I knew my political beliefs were in direct opposition to Obama, I watched a video of the author, and decided I would read the book and review it fairly.

I'm posting my review later than many of the other bloggers, but I’ve now read the book twice. It did not change my opinion about Obama – in fact, it confirmed what I already thought about him and about his religion. The author of the book states that he does not plan to vote for Obama because they hold different political beliefs, but after reading the book, I hope and pray they also hold different religious beliefs.

Throughout the book, statements made by Obama consistently point to a version of Christianity that is not Biblical. It is very much a New Age version – an Oprah version, if you will – Christianity twisted to fit certain agendas.

I went through the book, highlighting major areas of concern, and I’d like to share them with you here.

On Barack Obama’s upbringing:

Page 2: We must remember that if Obama ascends to the presidency in 2009, he will be the first American president to do so having not been raised in a Christian home.

Pages 16-18: The question that will surface again and again about Obama’s years in Indonesia is this: Was Barack Obama a Muslim? … In Islam, a man submits to Allah and enters the community of faith by reciting the creed There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet. … Did young Barack say these words in honor of Islam. Yes, certainly, both at his stepfather’s side in the Jakarta mosque on Fridays and in the Islamic religious instruction he received several hours a week in school.

On Barack Obama’s character:

Page 21: During Obama’s years at Punahou, he tried on personas as another man might try on clothes. Was he the angry radical brother or the educated, upwardly mobile black?

On Barack Obama’s conversion:

Page 52: He does not use the language of the traditional convert to Christianity. He is the product of a new post-modern generation that picks and chooses its own truth from traditional faith, much as a man customizes his meal at a buffet.

Page 55: Obama does clearly believe that the form of Christianity he committed to at Trinity Church in 1985 is not the only path to God. … “I believe that there are many paths to the same place and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”
Page 56: When his daughter once asked him about what happens after death…he was unable to assure her about heaven: “I wondered if I should have told her the truth, that I wasn’t sure what happens when we die, any more than I was sure of where the soul resides or what existed before the Big Bang.”

Page 59: Friends told him that his work in the South Side community would go better if people saw him in church, if they knew where he got his faith. Obama took this as true. … He did not deceive himself about this motive for attending church, nor did he fail to admit it later in life.

On Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright:

Page 46: Jeremiah Wright was either demon or deliverer. … He could lead thousands to faith and then spout urban myth as gospel. … He could bitterly rail against his nation and yet be, as he was, the most respected black preacher of spiritual revival in the country. He could lead a people to holiness and swear like a gangbanger in the pulpit.

Page 66: Jeremiah Wright earned a master’s degree in Islamic studies.

On Barack Obama’s patriotic stance:

Page 65: …he has sat under the ministry of a man who holds his country in disregard. Has this planted disrespect for country in Obama’s soul? Critics suspect so, and they point to his refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin, the many pictures of him on the Internet without his hand on his heart during the national anthem …

This book brings many questions to mind:

1) Has this country “progressed” to a point where we are willing to accept a New Age religion as a form of Christianity? Are we willing to put someone who believes in that New Age religion into the highest office of our land?

2) Do we want a chameleon as our leader?

3) On page 127, the author states: “Whether he wins the race in 2008 or not, Obama is what America is becoming.” My questions are … Is it really? Is that what we want? Or what we need? Are we becoming a society who follows the media, or a society whom the media follows?

I have great hope in the Christian faith of this nation. A faith that will be evident with the results of this election, a faith that will show America standing firm, standing tall, and standing proud, returning more closely to her roots of one nation under God, the God of the Bible, the God of Jesus Christ.

Please vote.

For a list of other reviews, click here.


Melanie Dickerson said...

Whoa, that's scary stuff, Tracy. I had no idea he was such a Universalist or went to Islamic schools and mosques as a boy. Scary. Exactly what America does not need.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh, and let me just add . . . Sarah Palin ROCKS!!!

Lynda Schab said...

I have not read this book so thank you for posting some of the "highlights." It really IS scary stuff. And it's scarier that our country has fallen so far as to actually consider voting for Obama. It has absolutely nothing to do with color. If Colin Powell was running, he'd probably get my vote! But it does have everything to do with his religious views, which are my first priority when it comes to voting for someone who will run our country!
I pray he doesn't win, but if he does, all I can say is "so help us, God."


Patricia W. said...

I'm a bit disappointed in the selected passages. For one thing, is it fair to evaluate a man based on statements he may have (or not) made at the side of his father? My children do what I tell them to according to my faith because they are obedient children. I pray they continue to adhere to the Christian faith when they grow up, that it becomes personal for them. Whether they do or don't, should they be judged by their actions at an age when they are not in a position to disagree or do otherwise?

As much as I agree that America is a Christian nation, going back to our forefathers, there have always been some differences of interpretation and practice. Because someone who confesses a belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world and repents of his individual sin has a slightly different understanding of Christianity than me or you, is that person not a Christian?

I'm not saying I agree with everything that the author, who by the way is not Sen. Obama, purports to be an example of the senator's faith. For example, I'm very clear on what happens after death.

I'm just sad to see the extent to which Christianity in America has become synonymous with the right to judge and moreover, condemn, another man's faith. Rather than judge Sen. Obama, why not pray for him, as I will for Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin, who seemingly prescribe to some interpretations of our shared Christian faith with which I cannot agree.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Unless you believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the only way to God and to eternal life, then please don't call yourself a Christian, because frankly, you're not.

I don't want to sound judgmental, but you're either a Christian--a Christ follower--or you're not. Is there someone else who died for your sins? No. Jesus is the only One. Will God appreciate divided loyalties? I don't think so. That's just the way it is. I do pray that Obama will see the Light. There is hope in Jesus. He is the Way to the Father. He has taken our sins and redeemed us, if we will accept it and follow whole-heartedly after Him. There are no half-hearted Christians. There is only Christ and Him crucified, the hope of our salvation, the One who gives us life and life more abundant. Thank you, Jesus! I am yours forever.

Debby Giusti said...

Found your blog through our ACFW loop and wanted to know about the book you reviewed. Thanks for providing such good insights.

Keep up the good work! Hope to see you at ACFW!

Anonymous said...

Tracy ~ Well said. I'm going to ditto Melanie's statement of truth. I WISH we could make the statement that America is a Christian country, but that is simply not true. According to the Barna Group (2006-07), of the voting population only 9% of registered voters are evangelical Christians, 38% are nonevangelical born-again Christians, 29% are other self-identified Christians, and 24% are outside of Christianity.

Barna defines the evangelicals as those who are born -again, made a confession of sin and profession of faith in Christ; believe the BIble is accurate in the principles it teaches, view God as all-powerful and perfect and involved in the world today, and contend that JEsus did not sin, assert that Satan is a real spiritual being, who reject that heaven can be earned through good works, who believe Christians have a resonsibility to share their faith with others, and who say their religious faith is very important in their life.

Nonevangelicals and self-identified are those who profess to be born again, but don't share other faith perspectives ( i.e. don't believe the Bible is entirely accurate).

I think we have a responsiblity to undestand the nuanced roles of faith in our culture. Because I know Tracy, (please confirm this, Trac) I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I believe Tracy is coming from the 9% category, as am I. Based on Obama's own words, I have not seen anything to suggest that he is an evangelical Christian.

Do we want our children to obey us?Absolutely. It's Biblical. Whether Obama is saying the same things now that he said beside his father isn't the question for me. What I'm looking for is fruit today. Do I see fresh fruit in Obama or McCain that reflects the picture of Christ to America? Do I see a leader who is passionate for Christ and compassionate for people?

OH, I'm praying alright! I am on my facing and asking God to protect our country from a future president who loves the spotlight more than he loves the Lord.

Tracy Ruckman said...

Although that number saddens me greatly, I AM of the 9% category - a full-fledged born-again evangelical Christian.

Thanks for the thorough comments, everyone. Please let's continue this discussion.

kc said...

When Obama replied to Rick Warren's question about faith and said, "Jesus died for my sins," it sounded to me like a 6-year-old Sunday School answer about which he knew little. Sounds like I was right.

However, I'm not surprised in the least.

cmk44 said...

Thank you Tracy for reviewing this book. I agree with the others that this is scary. To think he could be leading our country which is in such terrible turmoil already!

I agree with Melanie and Lynda that Sarah Palin ROCKS!


Anonymous said...

Anyone who is an evangelical Christian knows, from Senator Obama's responses he is NOT a Christian. Fundamental to the Christian faith is a firm knowledge of where we are going after we die, knowing that there is only ONE way to God, and acknowledging we are a sinner and need the saving grace of God's sacrifice...His son, Jesus Christ. Mr. Obama does not agree with these concepts. What Senator Obama is expousing is a moral relativism that promotes his acceptability to the "masses"... The feel good approach, "your ok, I'm ok". Right down the same lines as America's most beloved host, Oprah Winfrey. She subscribes to the same line. Check it out;

Do I "hate" him? No, not at all. Senator Obama can believe whatever he wants to believe. God gives us all free will. Do I "judge" him? Of course not. But the Bible is the ultimate authority for life and what he believes is in direct conflict with God's word. So God's word speaks for itself.

What disturbs me is how he will use his "religion" to appeal to prospective voters. Those of "faith" to counter Palin and McCain. The type of faith that he wishes to portray that is "diverse and tolerant", so it offends few. So that it gains favor with the largest audience. A false "religious" portrayal of a man who desperately seeks office at any cost. A great orator, young, appealing, handsome and decisive. He will win many over just from these traits alone. But no substance, no experience. But still, he will probably be elected.

Senator Obama needs to be honest about his faith. I understand secular definitions of "Christain". I understand the original meaning of "Christian" from the Bible. Mr. Obama can, and should, state his faith, but by referring to himself as a Christian, he is a fraud, according to the Bible.

Please vote, and vote intelligently. Don't just see the trees for the forest. There are MUCH larger issues than just the economy. That will pass. Vote on the moral character of your leadership.

God bless.

Zahir Blue said...

I was going through the various reviews of this book and found myself compelled to point out a few things regarding this review.

First of all, you need to stretch definitions a bit to call Obama the "first" President not raised in a "Christian" household. For that matter, more than one President hasn't even been Christian--Washington, Jefferson and Madison all come to mind (they were avowed Deists).

Second, it seems to me odd that we look to some one's specific religious doctrines in what is in effect a hiring process. Do you need the brain surgeon to save you or the FBI agent to rescue your kidnapped child agree with each major facet of your religious beliefs? I voted for Barack Obama because he seemed more competent for the job under current circumstances than his opponent--a man beholden to the bigoted wing of the GOP, a man who admitted to understanding little about the economy, a man who graduated bottom of his class and chose someone grossly incompetent as his running mate. The Presidency is a job first and foremost, a very important one, which requires a startling array of skills to accomplish with any degree of success. Obama has those, and would evidently still have them even if he were Muslim or Atheist.

Also, I note that my own Church has little enough problem with the notion that knowledge of or agreement with doctrine is not necessary to salvation. But then the Orthodox Church tends to see Catholics and Protestants as the same in this matter, obsessed as both are obsessed with SIN. But that is discussion for another time.

Hope said...

I know this is late, but I wanted to say I appreciate someone taking a stand for the Truth. It is so appalling to see many professing Christians claim Obama is a "Christian". Anyone who says there are many paths to God (as Obama has) is not a Christian! Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father BUT BY ME!"