Sunday, June 1, 2008

Obama's Faith: Unitarian, but not exactly Universalist

Barack Obama has been telling the national mainstream media that he has a "conventional Christian faith" and the national mainstream media do not question it. Is this because neither Obama or the national mainstream know what a "conventional Christian faith" is?

Reading "Obama’s latest pastor problems" by Mollie Z at Get Religion and following the links she provides, I found a link to an interview with Obama about his faith from long before he was running for President. The article was linked to "Obama's Latest Pastor Disaster" by Jacques Berlinerblau in the Washington Post.

In "Obama: I have a deep faith" from the Chicago Sun Times from April 5, 2004, Cathleen Falsani interviewed Obama about his actual beliefs about the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ and the existence of Hell. From the quotes Falsani provides, Obama's faith is not "conventional Christian" but rather ... Unitarian, while not exactly Universalist.

We can get the Universalist part from here:
"So, I have a deep faith," Obama continues. "I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.

"That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived."

It's perhaps an unlikely theological position for someone who places his faith squarely at the feet of Jesus to take, saying essentially that all people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone -- know the same God.

That depends, Obama says, on how a particular verse from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me," is heard.

Obama's theological point of view was shaped by his uniquely multicultural upbringing...

And here right towards the end of the story, I find the not exactly Universalist part:
"The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they're going to hell."

Obama doesn't believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell.

But he's not sure if he'll be going to heaven, either...


The Underground Pewster said...

Never get your theology lessons from politicians. He sounds like he is running for Presiding Bishop of T.E.C. however. I hear that he is looking for a new church. He would fit right in. Tell him to come on down, I am warming a pew for him now.

mindblast said...

On the contrary, Obama is very much a Universalist.
I quote, "Universalists are Christians who believe in universal salvation. They don't believe that a loving God could punish anyone to hell for eternity. Instead, they believe that everyone will be reconciled with God eventually." see

I am a UU and noticed the error immediately. Obama does seem to live by the UU values taught to him by his UU grandparents.

Perpetua said...

Hi mindblast,

Yes, Universalists believe that all will be reconciled with God eventually. I say Obama is not exactly a Universalist because, while he does not think anyone will go to hell, he does not indicate that he believes all will be reconciled with God either.

Look at the words from the article again:

Obama doesn't believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell.

But he's not sure if he'll be going to heaven, either...