I'll be needing a few tools....
Scalpel - thanks.Laptop - got it.
Righteous Indignation - I've got plenty.
Various Unitarian Websites - check.
Online Concordance - there are dozens.
Chainsaw - yep.
Let the Fisking begin ! Here's Cal Thomas:
Religion is a topic that makes most journalists uncomfortable, unless they can expose hypocrisy — as in preachers who speak of virtue while carrying on an affair — or outrage such as Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the doings at Barack Obama’s now former church in Chicago.
Let's divide journalism into reporting and editorializing.
The reason for the journalistic discomfort is that journalists are supposed to deal with facts, and only facts, when doing straight reporting.
Journalists are supposed to combine logic and opinions when editorializing.
But religion is an area where many of the "facts" are debatable, and logic is secondary to emotion, feeling, and tradition. Therefore, it's difficult to do straight reporting or editorializing about religion unless the thrust of the journalism is something like exposing hypocrisy or generating outrage.
For instance, amazing things happen during Pentecostal worship services. When taken at face value, these events are credited to the movings and workings of the Holy Spirit. Many Pentecostal worshippers believe that God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, enters their bodies and allows them to speak in foreign languages, have feelings of ecstasy, etc etc etc. Anyone attempting to "report" on this would have difficulty determining what is fact. Anyone attempting to "editorialize" on this, would probably be skeptical. But the True Believers would then claim that the journalists simply don't wish to transcend themselves or take a journey of personal and spiritual discovery.
Most journalists think taking religion seriously might require them to study the claims of various faiths and too many of them have already decided this might lead them to a faith higher than themselves or politics and they don’t wish to take such a journey of personal discovery.
Yeah, that's what it would sound like.
That is too bad, because such an attitude exposes one of the main gaps between most Americans — who believe in God — and most journalists, who don’t.
At this point, Cal does a bit of equivocating. Most of the time when we say "equivocate", we mean "to use intentionally misleading language". But in the rhetorical sense, To Equivocate is to toggle back and forth between two different meanings of the same word as if they meant the same thing.
The Americans surveyed above who believe in God are referenced as if they're a unified block.
That ain't the case. Muslims, who believe in Allah, generally take offense to being lumped in with the Jewish devotees of Yahweh. Many Christians believe that God is not one, but three. Others see God as a life force, or the driving energy behind the universe, like Paul Tillich's "The Ground Of Our Being" concept.
Either way, our beliefs in God aren't all the same.
An exception is Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani, who interviewed Obama in 2004 for her book, “The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People “and asked him specific questions about his religious beliefs.
“I’m rooted in the Christian tradition,” said Obama, who has declared himself a Christian. But then he adds something that most Christians will see as (gasp) universalism: “I believe 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.”
Obama could've quoted some Saint Paul at this point: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Rom. 5:18-19)
Or Obama could've continued by simply stating "I refuse to believe that God is creating people by the billions, simply to torture them forever for non-belief."
Falsani correctly brings up John 14:6 (and how many journalists would know such a verse, much less ask a question based on it?) in which Jesus says of Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
That sounds pretty exclusive, but Obama says it depends on how this verse is heard.
Mr. Obama is correct on this point. Not only does it depend on how the verse is heard, it depends on whether Jesus really said it. According to the near unanimous opinions of the Biblical scholars in The Jesus Seminar, Jesus didn't say it.
Americans not only have widely divergent beliefs about God, they have diverse beliefs about scriptural authority.
According to Falsani, Obama thinks that “all people of faith — Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone — know the same God.” (her words)
Cool. Does this mean we can stop killing each other?
If that is so, Jesus wasted his time coming to Earth and he certainly did not have to suffer the pain of rejection and crucifixion if there are ways to God other than through Himself.
Only if the entire universe has to conform to the belief system you grew up with, Cal. One of my favorite theologians, a guy named Culver Nelson, has hypothesized that Jesus simply taught love and compassion and stood up to authority. This got him killed. The substitutionary atonement business got projected onto Jesus after the fact. Click here for details.
Here’s Obama telling Falsani, “The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they’re going to hell.” Falsani adds, “Obama doesn’t believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell. But he’s not sure he’ll be going to heaven, either.”
OK, from what I've read here and elsewhere, George W. Bush believes that other people will go to hell, and he's going to heaven. Forever. Barack Obama doesn't believe that anyone is going to hell, and Obama isn't sure he's going to heaven.
Think about that a few minutes, and let me know which person you'd trust with the nuclear football.
Here’s Obama again: “I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die."
The rarest of all commodities: A politician telling the truth for a print publication.....
"When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.”
Tucking in your daughters, being a good father, kindness, honesty, curiosity - those attributes are worth more than every creed, dogma, and doctrine ever invented.
Any first-year seminary student could deconstruct such “works salvation” and wishful thinking.
I believe that condemning your enemies to eternal torture and rewarding yourself with eternal bliss is "wishful thinking". Wishful thinking for sadists. But that's just me.
One thing I've noticed, though....you're correct that first-year evangelical college seminary students would probably deconstruct this as "works salvation". Willingness to do so tapers off at the Doctoral level, though. It's difficult to study Church History, Biblical Origins, and Textual Criticism at that level and see these little debates the same way.
Obama either hasn’t read the Bible, or if he has, doesn’t believe it if he embraces such thin theological gruel.
I suspect that Obama has read some Bible. I suspect that Obama "believes" the Bible is worthwhile. But I suspect that Obama has read some other books, books that lead him to believe that the Bible was created by a small group in a small place by people who had no idea that God just might like other people too, and that their enemies weren't necessarily God's enemies.
These people remind me of Cal Thomas.
Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn’t meet that requirement.
A clear requirement? One clear requirement? Does one have to be baptized? Does one have to receive the Last Rites from a priest? Does one have to accept the doctrines given by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith? Become a member of a Church Of Christ or some other restorationist denomination?
One cannot deny central tenets of the Christian faith, including the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator between God and Man and be a Christian.
No, if Bob Barr can sponsor the Defense Of Marriage act and oppose all medical marijuana laws and still be called a Libertarian, then we can call Barack Obama a Christian.
Such people do have a label applied to them in Scripture. They are called a “false prophet.”
I prefer the term "Whited Sepulchres", but that's just me.
The best rebuttal I know of for this nonsense, if we're going to go Biblical, can be found in Wikipedia's "False Prophet" entry. None of these scriptures remind me of Barack Obama. But if you can read those verses without thinking of Benny Hinn, John Hagee, or Oral Roberts, then you're not watching enough religious programming.
I hope some national journalist or commentator with knowledge of such things asks Obama about this and doesn’t let him get away with re-writing Scripture to suit his political ends.
People have gotten away with re-writing scripture for 2,000 years.
I hope some readers with knowledge of such things will e-mail Cal Thomas about this, and not let him get away with spiritualizing politics to suit his political ends.