Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dobson and Obama

You can count on empire's defender to be lousy theologians. The spat between Pat Dobson and Barack Obama is a case in point. Whatever your politics, this is a classic case of imperial "Christianity" speaking in support of empire and, not surprisingly, getting its Biblical citations confused as well.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not suggesting that Sen. Obama brings some profoundly anti-imperial perspective to the table, but rather that he was not only right from the perspective of the U.S. Constitution in suggesting that a government based solely on Christian scripture might be problematic in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society of 300 million, but he was also right Biblically about issues such as slavery while Mr. Dobson missed the boat by a long shot in suggesting that Obama was attributing to Christian scripture passages from the Old Testament. Never mind that we Christians are supposed to wrestle with all of scripture, but, in point of fact, approval of slavery is not confined to the first Testament. Indeed, “slaves obey your masters” comes from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the young Ephesian church and is repeated in the letter to the Colossians, in the same Christian New Testament that instructs wives to be subject to their husbands and women to keep silent in the assembly.

So Mr. Dobson gets his scripture wrong – which is forgivable, even for one who claims as much familiarity and authority as he does – but what is more important is how wrong he gets his core theology.

What bothers me most in all of this is that nowhere have I seen a member of the mainstream media call Dobson to account. They merely serve as scribes for both sides.

Moreover, I don't see Obama offering to repeat what he said about the Sermon on the Mount, either. In the present context, "loving enemies" is probably not a good electoral strategy -- even if it is, well, pretty Biblical.

I would be well to remember, above all, that we are, in fact, electing a president, not a pastor-in-chief or resident theologian. Thanks be to God.

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