Why It Matters If You Think President Obama Is Muslim

I trust if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I don’t think Republicans or Democrats have cornered the market on Truth. I blogged once on the basis for justice in the kingdom of God as a an example of how humanistic both political parties are. I say this as a preface to what I want to say in this post, so you’ll understand my goal here is not to be an apologist for President Obama.

Yet, I continue to read with surprise polls showing nearly 30% of white Evangelicals in the United States believe President Obama is a Muslim. As a Christian, whose desire is to see the kingdom of God advance in the earth, I’m concerned so many Christians have embraced this belief.

If you want clarity on the matter, read Stephen Mansfield’s book, The Faith of Barack Obama. I’ve met Stephen Mansfield. I spent an afternoon last summer touring Washington D.C. with him, and I discussed the book with him (which I had previously read). He’s a New York Times best-selling author and a born-again, Bible-believing Christian. If you have any doubts about his motives, I suggest you read his New York Times bestseller, The Faith of George W. Bush.

To put it bluntly, he’s one of us, and his book shows President Obama is clearly not a Muslim. This conclusion is not based on Stephen Mansfield’s opinion but on a reading of the undisputed facts of President Obama’s life. I won’t repeat those facts here because that’s not the purpose of this post. I’m more concerned here with the effect of this widespread misconception because there are two things that can result from it, and both are bad.

First, by continuing to proclaim President Obama is a Muslim in the face of facts clearly showing he is not, Christians lose credibility in the eyes of the world. It’s ok if the world thinks Christians are foolish for believing in Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection. It’s not ok for them to think we are foolish because we believe the world is flat. It’s not ok because it’s the destiny of Christians to lead the world, and the world will not follow people who don’t know up from down.

Second, continuing to proclaim President Obama is a Muslim can only have the effect of alienating him from the Evangelical world. Do you think President Obama will want to hear anything from Christians who say he is lying about being a Christian?

It’s something to think about. GS

The First Christian Empire

It began on Monday May 11, 330, when it was officially founded by Constantine the Great, and it ended on Tuesday May 29, 1453, when Sultan Mehmed II breached its walls and conquered its capital.  Its one thousand one hundred twenty three years are a study in Christian government and empire.  I am referring to the Byzantine Empire.

Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 312 A.D. marks the victory of Christianity over Roman paganism.  Constantine then faced a question unique in history up to that point, “What does it mean to be a Christian ruler and a Christian empire?” The eighty-seven Byzantine rulers who would occupy the Byzantine throne after him over the next millennium would grapple with the same question.  If we were to judge them solely by the longevity of the empire they stewarded, we would have to conclude they did well.  But there is more to commend the Byzantines than mere longevity.

John Julius Norwich writes, “The Byzantines were…a deeply religious society in which illiteracy–at least among the middle and upper classes–was virtually unknown, and in which one Emperor after another was renowned for his scholarship; a society which alone preserved much of the heritage of the Greek and Latin antiquity, during these dark centuries in the West when the lights of learning were almost extinguished; a society, finally, which produced the astonishing phenomenon of Byzantine art.”

Notwithstanding the glories of the Byzantine Empire, ultimately the kingdom of God is not defined or delimited by earthly empire, and, therefore, Constantinople’s sacking in 1453, while a historical tragedy did not impede the advance of the kingdom of God.  In fact, as I have suggested in another post, Kingdom History: 1453-1455, the fall of Constantinople may have been necessary in God’s larger plan for the advance of the kingdom of God.  GS

Against A Christian Counter-Culture

I have to admit I’ve never been excited about the idea of “Christian” music, “Christian” movies, or even the “Christian” Yellow Pages.  I don’t listen to Christian radio stations, I rarely go to Christian movies, and the last time I found the Christian Yellow Pages on the front door stoop I threw it away without even removing the plastic wrapper.  It’s not because I don’t like Christians.  I do.  I am one.  And, I think Christians have more to offer in the way of culture than any other worldview, philosophy or religion.

The problem is instead of infiltrating the prevailing culture and transforming it, Christians seek to create a counter-culture.  They create music only Christians will like and movies with religious language only Christians will understand and a phone book so Christians will only have to do business with Christians.  As a result, Christians end up intellectually ingrown, relationally incestuous and culturally irrelevant.

Jesus said the kingdom of God was like yeast which a woman took and worked into dough until it permeated the dough. (Matt. 13:33).  Yeast doesn’t work unless it is worked into the dough.  Jesus also said Christians are to be the salt of the earth. (Matt. 5:13). Salt doesn’t do any good unless it is in food.  Christians are called to be ethically separate from the world, not separated from the world.  In fact, Jesus prayed for Christians saying, “I’m not asking that you take them out of the world.” (John 17:15).  Too many Christians are trying to get out of the world; Jesus is trying to get them into the world.

The game is in the world, not in an insulated cultural cloister.  If you are a Christian, King Jesus wants you in the game, engaging the culture, changing the world.