What Obama Said When Asked Why He Is A Christian

President Obama responded at length to a question about his Christian faith on Tuesday in New Mexico, following intense scrutiny regarding his religious beliefs. The President’s faith has been questioned by many, especially evangelicals, many of whom believe he is a Muslim.

In a previous post, I analyzed a lengthy interview with Obama from 2004 regarding his spirituality. Many people are interested in Obama’s faith because one’s belief drives one’s practice. America is under his leadership, so his philosophies are important for us to consider. Only God sees into the hearts of men and women, so only God knows what anyone really believes. But what someone says about God and Jesus reveals evidence about one’s true convictions or lack thereof.

President Obama took his time answering the question posed to him Tuesday: “Why are you a Christian?” Although his answer was drawn out with many “uh’s”, he did not avoid the heart of the question. Here is the heart of his answer: “I’m a Christian by choice. It was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead – being my brothers' and sisters' keeper, treating others as they would treat me.”

Like many, Obama claims Christianity as his religion of choice because of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Not a bad reason. But Jesus was more than a great teacher. Choosing to ascribe to Christianity as a religion and choosing to believe in Christ as Lord and Savior are two very different choices. The former is a cultural practice. The latter is a personal conviction.

 In yesterday’s interview, Obama did speak of “achieving salvation through the grace of God,” but he did not explain from what one would be saved. Obama spoke about “Jesus Christ dying for my sins,” but did not mention that Jesus rose again from the grave proving that He is Lord over sin, death and hell. On the contrary, in Obama’s earlier interview he said he found the idea of God consigning people to hell difficult to believe, and said he believed “there are many paths to the same place.” He seemed to echo this yesterday by saying he deeply believed, “That this is a country that is still predominantly Christian, but we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own.”

Granted, it must be very difficult for any President of the United States to speak boldly about his faith in God. However, apart from his boldness, we are left to wonder what the truth is.

1. Obama may be a man with a saving faith in Jesus Christ, who has carefully chosen his words.

2. Obama may be a man of unknown conviction, who has learned some Christian talking points.

3. Obama may be a man for the reverence of God, who has determined Christianity his religion of practice.

In 2004, then State Senator Obama said, “I'm rooted in the Christian tradition.” Based on his own words, number three may describe him best – him and many other self-proclaimed Christians in America. Many in our country today choose Christianity as their religion because they believe it offers good moral teaching without a lot of requirements. This is very different from choosing to honestly bow to God, believing that He exists and that He Himself came in the bonds of flesh as the “only begotten Son” not only to die, but to live again and to reign forever as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:12-14, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

It is a futile faith that does not believe in the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection that is promised to those who receive His gift of grace. It is a futile faith that believes there are many paths to the same place. It is a futile faith that merely believes Jesus was a good man, a good teacher, and a good model to follow.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

True faith believes in the promise of heaven because of the grace offered through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. True faith knows there are no other graces to be had.

Question: What would you say if someone were to ask you, “Why are you a Christian?”

Be First to Comment

  1. dthurman said:

    I am a Christian because Christ first loved me, sought me, drew me by His Spirit and saved me by His grace. He paid the price for my sins, and rose again for my justification. I have repented of my sin, received Him by faith and am regenerated by His Spirit. Thanks for asking!

    September 29, 2010
  2. Ditto and Amen! Thanks for your comment and your boldness, Dennis.

    September 30, 2010
  3. TurtleDove said:

    I probably wouldn’t “mention that Jesus rose again from the grave proving that He is Lord over sin, death and hell,” although I do believe it. That’s a mouthful! (Granted, I’m not a public speaker, and Obama is; but he’s not a pastor.) He answered the question succinctly, and he walked a fine line. I disagree with him on the “grace” issue, but I firmly agree that we must respect other people’s religions. I also believe that we must respect our president, whether or not we agree on the fine points of his faith.

    October 1, 2010
  4. Thanks, TurtleDove, for sharing your thoughts in a graceful way. We are to be people of grace who honor others in the name of Christ. I appreciate your kind nature.

    October 1, 2010
  5. regency802 said:

    Why analyze this poor man to death? I get so annoyed at writers/reporters who question every move this President makes!!! It is so disgusting. Be thankful, as I am, that he knows the Lord as his personal Savior. That gets him into Heaven and that’s the most important thing in my book and I’m sure the Lords book!!

    October 5, 2010
  6. Regency802, thanks for taking the time to comment. I chose to analyze Barak Obama’s faith to awaken God-fearers to the truth: that there are many who revere God and “practice” Christianity, but who do not “know” the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior. My goal is not to condemn our President, as I have made clear in many of my posts. I pray that your assumption is correct – that he does indeed “know” the Lord Jesus, having received him as his personal Savior. None of us can determine another’s true heart belief, but merely our own. I simply hope to spur readers to reflect on the authenticity of their own faith.

    October 7, 2010
  7. discipled-one said:

    Karyn, You make one of most obvious yet overlooked observations regarding Obama’s “faith” in recent memory when you stated, “The former is a cultural practice. The latter is a personal conviction”. It is not by cultural practice laws are made, it is out of personal conviction. This is why his faith – as well as his politics are on trial here. It is not his policies that sadden me the most. It is the low discernment in the Church. While many Christians abandon their responsibility to steward their God-given freedoms citing Daniel 2:21 as their “escape clause”, no preacher I ever heard from the pulpit cites Proverbs 29:2 as the reason why we should select candidates with a Biblical worldview – clearly something Obama does not have. This is why it is imperative to choose our candidates wisely. Ask the right questions according to Scripture. Find out the candidates worldview. As for your question, “Why are you a Christian” It is for the following reasons: 1) I recognize and accept who Jesus is and the work He has done for me on the cross. 2) That I do bow my knee to His Lordship over my life and everything in it (including my finances and freedom). 3) That I submit to His Holy Spirit to continually be transformed into His servant. 4)That I will preach His Gospel, His standards of right living and to ensure that my government reflects that so that all Americans – Christian or not can see the blessing of our Lord upon this nation and that those who are not are compelled by His love for them that they accept His pardon can be called His.

    October 7, 2010
  8. Thank you, discipled-one, for your kind comments. As for Daniel 2:21, it is quite ironic that people in America would use this as an excuse to ignore their responsibilities as citizens of America. “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” In America, we do not have a king. God has allowed us to be born into an established democracy in which we must rely on God to give us wisdom and knowledge as we exercise our right to vote. As you mentioned, it is imperative that we discern candidates’ worldviews and cast our votes wisely. Thank you for the intelligent exchange. May God bless you as you seek to honor Him.

    October 7, 2010

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