Obama and the End Times

I read an editorial in the New York Times today that astounded me. I guess I am a bit naïve when it comes to politics and some fundamentalist traditions. To read the entire provocative editorial please go to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/opinion/21kristof.html?ref=opinion.
I believe that some people are convinced, without any evidence, that Obama is a Muslim because he had a Muslim father who later became an atheist and left the family. My persons on the street when it comes to politics are some of the people I golf with. I have heard people say, “Obama is a Muslim.” When I tried to tell them that he was a very committed Christian, they dissed me, “Where did you find out that he was a Christian? On the internet?”
This political campaigns have long abandoned any effort to be truthful. Truth is not a partisan issue. As Christians, we follow Jesus who is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. We are called to live the Gospel. We are called to live the truth in ALL areas of our lives.
What really bothers me is that ill-informed or misinformed “Christians” do not know the truth. They have been led astray by pastors who misinterpret the Gospel. They believe the rapture Left Behind series and they believe in an erroneous interpretation of the Book of Revelation. They read the Book of Revelation looking for the present day fulfillment of the prophecies they think are in the book.
It may just be that the Church has been responsible for misleading these people. James Carroll’s Sword of Constantine documents the fact that Jesus was never a Christian. Yes, you heard me, “Jesus was a Jew.” After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, his faithful followers gathered as the Jesus movement. Before most of the Christian Scriptures emerged, there were two sects within Judaism—the Pharisees and the Jesus Movement. When conflict began to emerge between the Jesus Movement and the Pharisees, a split occurred and the Jesus Movement morphed into the Christian Church which was soon co-opted by Constantine and the Empire. (The emperor played a crucial role in the adoption of the canon of Christian Scriptures.)
As the rift rolled out, a shift of focus occurred in the Christian Scriptures. Originally, the Romans were responsible for the death of Jesus because he and his teachings were a threat to imperial power and dominion. The Caesars claimed to be “god.” Jesus was the Son of God. He had to go.
Gradually, because of the rift between the followers of Jesus and the Jews, the blame for Jesus’ death came to be laid on the Jews. The final outcome was that the Jews killed Jesus. Enter centuries of church-sanctioned anti-Semitism! The cross–the symbol if resurrected life for some–became symbol of death for Jews.
Enough of the discourse. The important point is that when the Christians sought to vilify the Jews, they declared that the New Covenant had replaced the Old Covenant. The Jewish Scriptures were then used to show that Jesus was the one the Jews anticipated. Prophecy became foretelling the future as opposed to religious-political commentary on the events of the day, e. g. the Babylonian Captivity. (By the way, if God loves every person and all people, is it not possible that God still holds the Jewish people in a special covenantal relationship that still has a validity of its own?)
Seeing prophecy as fortune telling about the future and Armageddon is a misinterpretation of the Scriptures. The Book of Revelation is a commentary on the events of the day. The members of the Jesus Movement were being persecuted and martyred by the Romans. Babylon is the code word for the Roman Empire. The emperor is the anti-Christ. Throughout the book we find apocalyptic imagery which represents symbolic attacks on the Roman Empire.
The editorial says that some “Christians” identify Obama as the anti-Christ. This is so far from the truth that it is almost unimaginable.
Of course, the author is probably correct when he says that religion has become the proxy for racism in this election. Some people will come right out and tell you that they are not voting for Obama because he is black (Of course they usually resort to an epithet when making their statement!) Others find it more politically correct to claim that he is a Muslim. A nation that is into Muslim bashing daily finds it convenient to label Obama as a Muslim.
I don’t care who you are voting for. That is a personal decision based on applying Gospel values to the issues in the campaign. Abortion is a key issue; however, the bishops also consider racism to be an intrinsic evil which can never be tolerated. We each have a responsibility to resist racism as strongly as we resist abortion.
When we hear things that are simply not true, we also have a responsibility to confront and correct regardless of our partisan feelings. The end times are not here. God is in charge of the end times and he has not given us any clues in any biblical book. Jesus is the truth. He expects us to speak the truth is all situations, even national elections where truth once again has become the first victim of political discourse.

Leave a Reply