Clash of Black & White “Christians”?
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson felt it was his Christian duty to lambaste Barack Obama’s understanding of certain Scriptural texts. In fact, Dobson said that Obama has “a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution,” and that he is “dragging Biblical understanding through the gutter.” Dobson is White. Barack is Black. Given that Sunday church service is the most segregated time in America, might this difference be the reason for differing interpretations and understanding of the Holy Writ? Or might it be any number of other considerations? Enquiring minds want to know.
The issue of Biblical interpretation is increasingly important for the Obama camp since he’s courting the White evangelical vote. Though this group has traditionally been staunch Republican, the Bush Push has a number of Republicans rethinking their view of the Donkeys. For instance, although McCain presently has the majority of the evangelical vote according to a recent poll, support isn’t as high as it was for Bush. Because of this, Obama is banging on the doors of Baptists and others in the Bible Belt and elsewhere.
The brouhaha all started two years ago June when Obama gave a speech to a liberal “Christian” group named Call to Renewal wherein he asked the following rhetorical questions: “Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?” Dobson took offense at this string of inquiries.
“I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology,” complained Dobson. According to CNN, “Dobson said Obama should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.” Race and political persuasion aside, Dobson may at least be partially right. Jesus said he came to ‘fulfill the law.’ (Matt. 5:17) The restriction on shellfish and other dietary laws, along with the presentation of various sacrifices were all fulfilled.
And as for slavery in the Hebrew Bible, it was not the type practiced during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In fact, the Christian Greek Scriptures condemns “slave traders” outright and identifies them with “lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious,” as well as with “those who kill their fathers or mothers.” (1 Tim. 1:8-11; NIV) So Christianity and slave trading were incompatible. Sure, if your son was at the age of accountability and cursed God or his parents, they had a rock concert; and he got stoned. But such was not the case during the Christian dispensation.
Regarding Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7), Obama said that it is “a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our Defense Department would survive its application.” The reality is, Jesus had no delusions that the world’s armies would literally or figuratively ‘turn their other cheek’ when an enemy hurled an insult at them! (Matt. 5:39) That’s what he meant by a slap on the cheek, namely, an insult. This was the case in the culture of his day, and later in European culture when one gentleman took off his gloves and slapped his opponent on the cheek with them, which was a prelude to a duel where the real bodily harm would take place.
Regarding the Department of Defense (DOD), Jesus talked about them later in Matthew 24 (see also Mark 13, and Luke 21) when he told his disciples “you are going to hear of wars and reports of wars.” Then he went on to tell them, “see that you are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another.” A 2,000-year-old composite prediction coming true to the letter Brother Obama. The DOD falls somewhere in these words of Jesus, not the Sermon on the Mount.
Dobson was offended when Barack alluded to two different kinds of Christians when he said, “Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s?” Christianity in Black and White? Actually, there is only one kind of Christianity Brother Obama-the Bible’s kind. You won’t find neither James Dobson’s nor Al Sharpton’s name in the Bible.
The Christianity that you’ll find in the Bible is the one started by Jesus Christ, after which the name is taken. (Acts 4:12; 11:26) And anyone of any color can become one. (Acts 10:34, 35) Furthermore, if everyone in America and the world were to put down their weapons intended to hurt other humans as Jesus instructed Peter to do, then there would be no need for any nation to have any ‘defensive’ department that often goes on the “offensive.’
Regrettably, you find that Muslims have killed Muslims (Iran-Iraq wars in the past; other present-day skirmishes between Shiite and Sunni), and “Christians” have killed “Christians” (Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, WWI, and WWII, etc). While this certainly isn’t what Jesus had in mind for his
followers as stated above, he knew that most people on earth today would not fall into this category. Perhaps the most offensive or culpable of these are those who identify themselves as peaceful Christians, yet shame his name and legacy by killing instead of healing; or who become unnecessarily entangled in the politics of the world. (Please go to the Sentinel Web site and review my article, “Jesus Christ and Worldly Politics.”)
Nevertheless, Obama supporters, some from the most unlikely quarters, rally to his defense against Dobson. For example, the Texas minister who officiated at Jenna Bush’s wedding is part of a coalition of “Christian” ministers who have created a Web site called “James Dobson Doesn’t Speak For Me.” Backing Barack, the site was designed to refute Dobson’s charges with selected quotes from Obama. And then there’s the Matthew 25 political action committee, “which describes itself as a group of moderate evangelicals, Catholics and Protestants committed to electing the Illinois Democrat president.” And where did they get their name? The “name is inspired by a biblical passage, in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus says, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink,’” says CNN. “The name is meant to signal the group’s focus on social justice concerns about hot-button cultural issues.”
Of course, I leave all judging to God, and pray for all sorts of persons, Christian and non Christian. (1 Tim. 2:1-4) The Senator put it best when he said: “So before we get carried away, let’s read our Bible now. Folks haven’t been reading their Bible.” Indeed. Let’s read the Bible, and then make the correct application. If you need help, do what another Black man did. Ask for it, and it shall be given you. (Acts 8:26-39) Amen.
Please see related article “Prophetess in the Pulpit? ” on page C-7.
Dr. Firpo Carr n can be reached at 800.501.2713 or