I am really hesitant to do judge other people's faith. Especially politicians. Especially when the largely religion-less press corps asks questions regarding faith that are more for political consumption than really getting to the substance of a person's faith.
However, I think there's a lot of evidence that if Sen. Barack Obama really is a Christian, his understanding of the faith he claims is tenuous at best. Sadly, I think his recently former church is to blame for Obama's ignorance. [I touched on this a couple of months ago when I pointed out that Trinity United Church of Christ appeared to be one of those churches where it is really easy to attend and not be challenged in your Christian faith.]
The basis for this is this transcript of a conversation between Chicago Sun-Times religion reporter (now religion columnist) Cathleen Falsani and Obama. The resultant article can be found here, but it is the transcript that is especially telling.
Who’s Jesus to you?
(He laughs nervously)
Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.
And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.
Jesus isn't the Son of God to Obama. He isn't part of the triune God. He's a teacher. He was a real historical person.
I find Obama's answer less-than-satisfying. I find it lacking.
I'm reminded of the answer one of my college fraternity brothers gave on his statement of faith many years ago (the fraternity is a Christian fraternity, Alpha Gamma Omega, and all officers were required to file a statement of faith with the national organization). One of the parts of the statement was this reporter's question: "Who is Jesus?" Jon's answer was simply "God." That answer, while completely accurate, was a little too terse for the national organization, and he was directed to expand on it.
Jon's answer was better than Obama's.
Then there's one answer that leads me to believe more than anything else he says that Obama's faith is more about himself than it is about God.
Do you believe in sin?
What is sin?
Being out of alignment with my values.
Not "being out of alignment with God's values," but "my" values.
Here's hoping that Obama's next church does a better job at educating about his faith than the last one did.