Tuesday, April 02, 2013

President Obama's Pastor Problem Continues

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First, candidate Barack Obama, who had been very comfortable in Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church in Chicago for 20 years, had to denounce his pastor's comments and worldview and leave the church to save his own candidacy.

Now, President Obama finds himself in a similar circumstance in his new church home.

While much of America celebrated God's love and forgiveness for our sins through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ this past Sunday, Rev. Luis Leon, the new pastor to the Obamas, lashed out at "The captains of the religious right," calling the leaders of the right racists and bigots.

I'm not sure whether this says more about the President and the people he chooses to associate with, the pastor himself or the profound moral divide that exists in America today.

Perhaps all three.

Here's what the pastor said to his congregation, including the President and what the pastor is telling America.

This past Easter Sunday the President and his family walked from the White House to St John's Episcopal church for services.

The Washington Post says he and his family have been attending the church fairly regularly when they are in town as a number of other president's have done in the past.

While the service at St. John's did proclaim that Christ is risen in one of the hymns they sang, it was the pastor's rant that has drawn the attention.

Quoting from John 20:1-18, Leon said in the same way that Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to hold on to him, it is time for conservatives to stop holding on to what he considers outdated stances in matters of race, gender equality, homosexuals and immigrants.

The Washington Post quoted the pastor as saying:

“It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back . . . for blacks to be back in the back of the bus . . . for women to be back in the kitchen . . . for immigrants to be back on their side of the border.”

What the Post failed to report was the pastor's statement about homosexuals.

Jeff Mason, a reporter with Reuters, Tweeted that the pastor also included the statement "putting gays back in the closet."

It's interesting that the Post chose not to quote that comment.

Is President Obama attracted to this kind of belief or is he simply in the wrong pew at the wrong time?

This kind of belief allows for truth and values to "evolve."

He was comfortable with Rev. Jeremiah Wright's preaching until it threatened his political career. It does seem he has a history of questionable associations.

The President has admitted he has "evolved" on moral issues. St. John's Episcopal has also evolved on moral issues.

Although every president since James Madison has at least visited the church, it is not the church Madison or even George H.W. Bush knew.

The Episcopalians are remaking themselves into the image of progressive liberalism. When they embraced homosexual behavior, it drove biblical and social conservatives from the church, but in doing so it strengthened the progressive left who stayed in the church. That is a profile of today's St. John's Episcopal Church.

It is the profile of too many churches in America.

There is a profound divide in our country today. It extends beyond politics. It is a spiritual divide. We are once more a "House Divided" and this divide runs deep and falls along the distinctions between the religious left and the religious right.

Relativism and pop culture dominates the "evolving" beliefs of the religious left. Traditional, eternal, biblical values define those on the right of this divide.

The President's pastor, in advocating a "move on" morality, is advocating for a relativistic morality.

And relativism is deadly. It undermines religious freedom and prevents sustainability of a culture, leading to its collapse.

There are 4 kinds of relativism.

1. Objective relativism is the view that the beliefs of a person or group of persons are "true" for them, but not necessarily for others. This brand of relativism says there is no universal truth. Different people have different "truths." No one is wrong---no one is right.

2. Religious relativism is the view that one religion can be true for one person or culture but not for another. No religion, therefore is universally or exclusively true. This idea holds that religious belief is simply an accident of birth. They say Americans are generally born Christian, just like those in India are generally born Hindu, Saudi Arabia, Muslim, etc.

3. Moral relativism maintains there are no moral absolutes, no objective ethical right or wrong. Moral values are true or "genuine" for some, but not for others. Since there are differing opinions of morality in the world, there is no reason to think that one is more true or objectively binding than another.

4. Cultural relativism says that what is immoral in our culture is not necessarily immoral in another country. Therefore no one can judge another person's moral values.

The implications of relativism are many.

One is directly related to biblical Christianity and the Great Commission, which mandates Christians to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

Relativism prohibits religious "persuasion." It is called "proselytizing" and is viewed as "cramming your religion down someones throat." Sharing your testimony of what Christ has done in your life suggests your religious view is superior to other's experiences. Trying to "evangelize" is wrong and can become illegal in this environment.

Another implication is that to claim to have any exclusive truth, given the number of religions in the world, is arrogant. The exclusive claims of Christ in regard to access to the Father, or as the only way to salvation is seen as arrogant, ignorant Western colonialism. Nothing more than narrow mindedness and bigotry.

Tolerance is the cardinal virtue of relativism. To imply that someone is wrong is very intolerant. Ironically the virtue of "tolerance" is not tolerant at all. In reality, relativism's tolerance is anything but tolerant. For example, what homosexual activists call tolerance, is actually unconditional acceptance and affirmation of their lifestyle as legitimate and normal.

The progressive "tolerance" movement is the primary challenge to our Christian worldview, our religious freedoms and the prosperity of our culture.

Proponents of progressivism argue that Christianity is intolerant and inconsistent with a free and open society, yet the principles of Christianity are the foundation of the greatest and most free nation in history.

Relativism, taught in our public schools from K through college, is shaping how America views homosexuality, abortion and biblical truth and sin itself.

In the world of relativism, tolerance is affirmation, it is coercive and it asserts what it claims to reject.

It is intolerant and dogmatic. It is not inclusive. It is exclusive. If you reject the premise or do not comply with it, you face public ridicule and even legal challenges.

It is critical that Christians rise to this moment and speak to a culture that has inverted truth, morality and common sense.

God help us.