Faith in the Time of Pluralism- Obama Communicates the Mantra of the Masses

June 1, 2009

Last week Al Mohler posted a column entitled “Talking About Talking About Abortion” in which he confronted the rhetoric being used by President Barack Obama to address the issue of abortion during his controversial commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame.  While Mohler’s point was to look at the substance of Obama’s public position on the abortion issue, there was something seemingly insignificant in the quote he pulled that got me thinking.  I have reproduced the quote in an extended form below so that you may see what I’m talking about:

“[W]e must find a way to live together as one human family. . . . For the major threats we face in the 21st century — whether it’s global recession or violent extremism; the spread of nuclear weapons or pandemic disease — these things do not discriminate. They do not recognize borders. They do not see color. They do not target specific ethnic groups.

Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and greater understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history.” (Barack Obama, 17 May 2009, University of Notre Dame)

Did you see it?  Look again:

Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone (!)

No one person can meet the challenges of recession, extremism, nuclear proliferation, disease?! Does not our president claim to be a Christian?  And doesn’t the Christian Scripture speak clearly on just this issue?  Is not Christ the reconciliation of all things (2 Corinthians 5.19)?  Is not all of creation groaning in anticipation for its renewal that Christ’s redemption will bring (Romans 8.18-25)?  Does God not guarantee that one day He will wipe away every tear and pain shall be no more (Revelation 21.4)?  

But how does this occur?:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6)

“And there is salvation in no one else [but through Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4.12)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3.36)

So, according to the Bible, the book which contains all the knowledge of Obama’s faith, there is but one person who can meet all these challenges, that being the God-Man Jesus Christ.  Yet instead of acknowledging this it is far safer to hide under the political hem-and-haw of pluralism.  

But Obama is a politician, not a theologian, so possible it is just the case that understanding the sufficiency of Christ is something which is above his pay grade.  However, looking to the theological world it doesn’t get much better, as our good friends Rob Bell and Brian McLaren demonstrate:

“Jesus at one point claimed to be “the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth. Rather, he was telling those who were following him that his way is the way to the depth of reality. This kind of life Jesus was living, perfectly and completely in connection and cooperation with God, is the best possible way for a person to live. It is how things are…. Perhaps a better question than who’s right, is who’s living rightly?” (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis)

“I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain with their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.” (Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy)

Very nice!  As you can see, this type of pluralistic, double-speak heresy is not just political posturing, it is also the blasphemy du jour in the emergent church.  

We must be on our guard.  What Obama said was so slight and yet is so pervasive in our culture.  The fact that a statement denying the sufficiency of Christ and the gospel can simply fly under our radars speaks volumes to how poor an understanding of Scripture most people who claim to be “Christians” really have.  This should be offensive to us, this should cause an outrage.  Instead we just cheer and cover our ears until the day comes when we are confronted with the truth, no matter how un-p.c. it turns out to be!