In many ways, it was Obama who started it. In 2007, Obama said at an evangelical church in South Carolina, “We’re going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth.” In this way, he very much likened himself to Jesus, who in the Gospels is represented as coming to establish the Kingdom of Heaven. Then there was this bit of lofty rhetoric last year, widely reported, filled with hyperbole regarding his own goals and abilities:
I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.
Then there was the iconography. No, the “Change” poster is not a Christian icon–it hearkens back to something much more sinister. In style, it reflects the art work of the fascist and socialist dictatorships prevalent in Europe in the mid-20th century, where the leaders were not presented as Christs, but as different kinds of messiahs–messiahs who “succeeded” (setting up “thousand year reigns” that lasted but twelve short years), where Christ “failed”. It is often said that when one copies another, one pays homage to him. However, while this style of iconography is similar enough to that of the Church to be recognizable, it is also a pointed rejection of the Church and its God. It is not as though the one being depicted is being depicted as Christ. Whether it be Hitler, Stalin, or some other leader, in its rejection of Christian and traditional motifs, the iconography consciously suggests that the leader is new, different, and therefore better than what came before.
Then there were the worship videos. This one is a new praise song, written to commemorate Obama:
However, there are others that were produced which used contemporary Christian praise choruses to worship the man. Presumably, some of these videos were made by people who think of themselves as Christians, though it is difficult to imagine why they might come to that conclusion.
Then there were statements by members of the press. Though there are many, perhaps the most notorious was the statement by Evan Thomas of Newsweek: “I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above the world, he’s sort of God.”
While Obama cannot be blamed or held responsible for what others think, feel, or do, in many ways the situation reminds one of Herod in the Book of Acts:
Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while. He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. Having secured the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.
On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12: 19b-23)
While many try to write this off as apocryphal, the Jewish writer Josephus, who lived during those times and who never read Acts, gave essentially the same report, saying that Herod was eaten by worms and died shortly after this event. This is the same Herod who stood by and let Jesus be crucified, and who martyred Christian leaders, among many, many other atrocities. However, according to Scripture, he was not held immediately accountable for any of those other acts. It was only when he allowed other people to say that he was a god (and not even “the God”) that he was struck down.
Surely, someone who claims to know the Bible and who even quotes Scripture to back up his points would be aware of this story, and presumably show some humility, and demand that his followers cease blaspheming. However, Obama appears to be soaking it all in. Indeed, recently he even doubled down on the proposition in regards to the health care debate.
In a conference call with US rabbis, Obama said, “We are God’s partners in matters of life and death.” I know of no theologian and no major strain of theological thought, Jewish or Christian, which would support such an assertion. Even the most rabid followers of Arminianism believe that it is ultimately God who holds the keys to life and death, that at best we can only cooperate with his will. If this were not true, why would the Bible say, “Thou shalt not kill?” Only God can give life, and with some narrow exceptions–spelled out explicitly in Scripture–only God is authorized to take it away. Andrew Klavan points out,
When facing death himself, Jesus – a talented Rabbi in his own right – asked God to get him out of his perilous situation, but then added, “Not as I will, but as you will,” which suggests to me that even Jesus didn’t expect to partner with his father in these matters.
From a theological perspective, Obama was essentially committing blasphemy. God has no partners. He is sovereign and supreme, with no equal.
Right after Obama finished speaking with the rabbis, he turned around and held an interfaith conference call:
Today, the president sought to fight what he called “deceptive attacks” and “ludicrous ideas” that have been spread by opponents of health care revamp.
“I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” he said.
Obama called the notion that his proposed changes to the health care system would lead to so-called death panels “just an extraordinary lie,” said the idea that they would require federal funding for abortions or provide insurance for illegal aliens was not true and told callers the plan would not amount to a government takeover of health care or to cutting Medicare benefits for the elderly.
“These are fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation and that is that we look out for one another,” he said. “That I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper and in the wealthiest nation on Earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.”
Obama’s statement to the clergymen is so rife with deception and misrepresentation that it is difficult to decide where to begin in response.
First, as pointed out before, Palin’s statement about death panels was fairly on the mark. This is not merely an issue with end-of-life counseling, as Krauthammer and others misleadingly suggest–Palin’s original Facebook posting took aim at rationed care. ObamaCare can only work if there is rationed care, and the kind of rationed care that Obama himself explicitly envisions entails having groups of experts (“panels”) decide who will receive care and who will not. Since these will at times be life and death decisions, to those denied care by the experts this will indeed be a “death panel”. Is not Obama’s own statement that “we are God’s partners in matters of life and death” an explicit acknowledgment that this is exactly what he has in mind?
Regarding federal funding for abortion, as Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee points out:
Emboldened by the recently demonstrated superficiality of some of the news media, President Obama today brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted. As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps-Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions. Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government-collected premiums. But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies. The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions — this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government. These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion.
Regarding health care for illegal aliens, Mark Krikorian of the National Review notes,
… the supposed bar on illegal aliens getting subsidies is inadequate: The bar applies only to one section of the bill; there’s no requirement that applicants’ eligibility be verified, as is the case with other welfare programs; and the Democrats specifically rejected amendments to require verification.
At the CIS panel discussion Wednesday on the subject, Robert Rector of Heritage described the decision not to check the legal status of subsidy applicants as “such an unprecedented step within the U.S. welfare system, to basically say, oh, you are not eligible but we will not check, wink, wink, nod, nod.” Rector was also clear he thought the Democrats in Congress knew perfectly well what they were doing and intended “to allow all welfare benefits to be fully available to all illegal immigrants.”
Then we have Obama’s own ludicrous assertions that the plan does not “amount to a government takeover of health care or to cutting Medicare benefits for the elderly”. If ObamaCare is not a government takeover of health care, then what is it? And as his own plan calls for rationed care in the hopes of saving money on the backs of the disabled and the elderly, how will there not be Medicare cuts?
So, who is bearing false witness here?
These are all significant policy disputes upon which reasonable people can disagree. Yet, Obama is injecting religion into the matter, if only in an attempt to shut off all discussion and get his way. After all, who can argue with God? Yet, Scripture does not mention government health care programs or the welfare state. Indeed, the government is never seen in the Bible as an instrument of charity, or as an instrument through which we can fulfill our obligations to be our brother’s keeper. By the way, this is a twisting of Scripture in and of itself, as nowhere are we commanded by Scripture to be anyone’s keeper–nor is this our calling. The phrase was used in the Bible by Cain, and only by Cain, as an angry retort to God after he killed his brother. God never said anywhere that Cain or anyone else should be “his brother’s keeper”. We are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself”, and “to do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. However, neither of these commands obligates us to take charge over someone else’s life–to be their keeper. Indeed, we are all commanded to look after our “own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2: 12). While we owe a debt of love to those around us and we should care for them when they are in need, ultimately we are responsible for our own lives and not the lives of others. Obama is preaching a false Gospel here, but no one called him on it.
From a theological perspective, in so many ways Obama reminds one of King Uzziah in the Old Testament:
After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. They confronted him and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God.”
Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him.
King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and excluded from the temple of the LORD. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land. (2 Chronicles 26: 16-21)
While is is imperative that our leaders be moral men who fear God, there is something unholy about a man who would be both king (or in this case, president), and a priest or pastor to the nation at the same time. Surely, a man’s faith should inform his policy decisions. However, it is not at all Obama’s place to either receive the glory that otherwise should belong to God, or to lecture or preach to the nation about morality and the Scriptures. That Obama would use lies, twisting and contorting the truth, all of the while misquoting Scripture and distorting it to meet his own personal ends, only compounds his errors. We do not need a man with absolutely no fear of the Lord cynically trying to invoke the fear of the Lord in order to get his way.
While it is not our place to judge or execute God’s judgment, it is only right that we recognize that Obama has placed himself under God’s judgment. The appropriate Christian response is to be astonished, appalled, and fearful of both the man and the wrath that is coming to him. This is really all beyond the point of rebuke or even prayer for his salvation. Indeed, from a purely biblical standpoint, the only thing we can do is stand clear of the man, lest we be consumed with him. He has made himself something unclean and unholy. The real question is not whether he will be judged by God for his blasphemies, but whether we will be judged with him because we ourselves did not mourn and repent for choosing a man such as this to lead us.