The DRC has been silent on the controversy surrounding Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his spiritual mentor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Like most Americans I have been extremely interested to learn of Wright’s homiletical follies, his race baiting, his white bashing, his America denouncing, and his conspiracy theories. I am shocked to find such militancy masquerading as the gospel.
Still, I think there are complicated issues involved. Here are my thoughts so far.
1. Whatever Wright is preaching in these hate filled tirades it is not the gospel. It is identity politics baptized. Of course, it is hard to get a grasp of someone’s overall message simply by hearing snippets of a man’s most controversial declarations. At best Obama’s spirituality is a spirituality rooted in earthly liberation and the progressive do-good-er-ism of the social gospel. Sure there are huge differences but at its covenant of works roots, I wonder if we can say any more about Reagan’s spirituality than Obama’s?
2. We should be just as upset when white preachers trade the gospel for social gospel politics whether on the right or the left.
3. This morning at NRO, commentator Victor Davis Hanson suggests that Obama should have said:
â€œBut any good that now might come by remaining steadfast to Rev. Wright in consideration of our long past friendship is outweighed by the damage that would accrue from the sanction of his extremism that my continued attendance at his church might convey.
â€œI have loyalty aplenty, but it is to the truth, my country, and universal tolerance, not to any one friend â€” however long and close our association.”
I am confounded that Hanson, writing in a Conservative environment, would argue that Obama should place his loyalty in abstractions and while dropping his allegiance to those who have been like family to him. Is that really the conservative, Christian thing to do? Shouldn’t we be suspicious of politicians who will toss old friends off the bus when it is political expedient. Wasn’t Obama more thoughtfully conservative when he distanced himself from the Wright’s crazy abstractions but showed loyalty to his old friend? Isn’t the essence of Toryism loyalty to persons over abstractions?
4. Obama’s speech “A More Perfect Union” dealt with this potentially devastating situation in a way that was, to say th least, impressive. This was possibly the most important political discussion of the race question in our lifetime. I was certainly the best speech I have heard in American politics since Reagan (and I know Reagan’s speeches- I used to have them on a set of tapes).
5. Obama’s call for fathers and families to instill a sense of self-help reliance should have been pure joy for conservatives.
6. Obama’s call to rise above cynicism and to believe that change is possible was balanced by a recognition that change must come within the trajectory of the American tradition. Isn’t this the heart of Burke who declares, “A State without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation”?
8. Finally, Obama should continue to love his friend Wright and find an authentic confessional church to help him understand the gospel of Christ, the distinction between the two kingdoms, while rooting his thought in a less earthly more balanced eschatology. I would suggest fine Chicago churches like Westminter RPC (Pastored by our own Rev. Charles Brown) or Bethel OPC (Pastored by Craig Troxel)