Preaching The Gospel

Monday, November 3, 2008

Preach and Reach - Part VI

Preach and Reach
Despite his liberal record, Barack Obama is making a lot of evangelicals think twice.
John W. Kennedy | posted 10/06/2008 09:29AM

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In Saint Louis during a July address to the African Methodist Episcopal convention, Obama exhorted parents to teach their sons "to treat women with respect, and to realize that responsibility does not end at conception, that what makes them men is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one." The AME is the oldest predominantly black denomination in the nation.

Obama repeatedly mentioned his faith during the talk, which at times resembled a revival meeting more than a political speech. "Our faith cannot be an idle faith," Obama declared. "It requires more of us than Sundays at church. It must be an active faith, rooted in that most fundamental of all truths: that I am my brother's keeper, that I am my sister's keeper.

"The challenges we face today—war and poverty, joblessness and homelessness, violent streets and crumbling schools—are not simply technical problems in search of a 10-point plan," Obama said. "They are moral problems, rooted in both society indifference and individual callousness, in the imperfections of man." Obama reiterated the need for government to partner with faith-based initiatives to feed the hungry, reform the prisoner, rehabilitate the drug addict, and keep the veteran employed.

For those who had doubts, Obama recited his salvation testimony from his days as a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s. "I let Jesus Christ into my life," Obama declared. "I learned that my sins could be redeemed and if I placed my trust in Jesus, that he could set me on a path to eternal life."

Such a personally fervent witness may cause many moderate evangelicals to vote for a Democrat for president for the first time in their lives. Bishop Jackson observes, "A lot of people don't like either candidate. That works in Obama's favor. Many may give Obama a try. At least he's talking about faith." Whether evangelical voters can reconcile Obama's talk with his walk remains an open question.

John W. Kennedy is a CT contributing editor and news editor of Today's Pentecostal Evangel in Springfield, Missouri.

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