John Blake of CNN recently posted an article about President Obama’s faith. See http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/21/to-some-obama-is-the-wrong-kind-of-christian/.
I found the post to be balanced, well-written, and thought-provoking. Evidently, many other people found the article to be “provoking” as well, as Mr. Blake notes in his follow-up post at http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/24/look-at-obamas-faith-draws-criticism-praise/.
These posts stand on their own, and I don’t intend to comment on them here. However, I do want to comment on a quote there from Diana Butler Bass: “The kind of faith that Obama articulates is not the sort of Christianity that’s understood by the media or by a large swath of Christians in the U.S. … He’s a different kind of Christian, and the media and the public awareness needs to reawaken to that fact.”
Notice that phrase — “a different kind of Christian”. It seems that for many believers the phrase is an oxymoron. For them, there is only kind of Christian and it’s their kind. It seems important these days for people to be able to identify and defend their Christianity along rigid preset lines. Is President Obama really a Christian? Is Mitt Romney? How about Joe Biden or Paul Ryan? Each one of these men is a man of faith who professes to be a Christian, but their doctrinal beliefs and spiritual practices are quite different from one another. In fact, I don’t know that any of them would claim to be “born again”, thus seriously jeopardizing their faith identity in the minds of many.
On further reflection, I actually like the descriptor of “a different kind of Christian”. It allow us to acknowledge that the Christian community of believers is broad and inclusive, while we also acknowledge that the details of faith and practice can vary among us. Maybe it will also encourage us to be very careful about judging another person’s relationship with God just because it doesn’t seem to align with our own traditions and understandings.
This post is somewhat outside of this blog’s History of Christianity theme. In fact, much of what I am reading and thinking about these days is outside of that theme. That is why I have launched a new and separate blog: http://PathsOfChristianity.com. I am still getting that site polished up, but I encourage you to check it out.