Obama’s Pastors Don’t Preach the Bible

Let me describe the kind of guy whom Senator Barack Obama considers “a wonderful young pastor.”

He’s the kind of man who calls the biblical patriarch Abraham a “pimp,” and says that Noah and Moses were thugs. He’s the kind of pastor who says that Jesus has a “soft spot for thugs,” and assures his congregation that everyone has some “thug proclivities.”

You buy that? Here are some highlights of Barack Obama’s new pasor, the Rev. Otis Moss III:

# “Jesus has a soft spot for thugs.”

# “God is always using thugs to do God’s work.”

# “Everyone has a little bit of thug in them.”

# Noah was a “thug” who “was drinking much gin and juice and got drunk on the eve of reconstruction.”

# Abraham “pimped his own wife.”

# Jacob was a “hustler” who “stole his own brother’s birthright.”

# Moses was a “thug” and “if he got mad would give you a royal beatdown.”

# Sampson was a “thug” and a “player.”

# David was a “thug,” a “shot caller,” and a “player,” and a man after God’s own heart.

Strangely, most of these statements actually have a certain legitimacy to them (although Jacob did NOT “steal” his brother’s birthright; Easau sold it to him as per Genesis 25:29-34; Moses gave that “beatdown” early in his life prior to hearing God’s call as per Exodus 2:11-14; and the account of Abraham “pimping” his wife was actually more a tale of a frightened sojourner concealing his marriage in order to save his life as per Genesis 12:10-13.

And I would even acknoweldge the statement that “Jesus has a soft spot for thugs” in the sense that He has a “soft spot” for sinners in need of a Savior.

But – from these relative high points – the sermon goes down hill pretty fast from there.

Ronald Kessler, the chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com, has it this way:

While Moss has not expressed hatred of America and of whites, as Wright did, in a sermon on YouTube, Moss derides middle-class America for not accepting the “prophetic brilliance” of thugs.

Referring to these thugs, Moss says sardonically, “There are times when our prejudice keeps us from hearing ghetto prophets, who preach a brand of thug theology which keeps us from hearing the truth from their lips because of their course language and ragged subject-verb agreement.”

To applause, Moss approvingly cites Tupac Shakur, a “gangsta” rap star with a long arrest record. Before being fatally shot in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas in 1996, Shakur faced a 120-day sentence for probation violations stemming from offenses including assault and battery and a 1994 sexual abuse conviction in New York. Shakur served 11 months in prison for his involvement in the sexual attack on a 21-year-old woman in a New York hotel room.

Judge Daniel P. Fitzgerald of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan described it as “an act of brutal violence against a helpless woman.”

Shakur had also been convicted in Los Angeles of assault and battery on a music video producer and for carrying a loaded, concealed weapon.

Most Americans look to places of worship for inspiration and moral and spiritual guidance. Moss’ message is the opposite. Claiming Shakur’s message speaks to our “current condition,” Moss blurs the distinction between right and wrong: He says those who don’t get that a rapper like Shakur is a prophet and biblical figures are thugs are confined by “bourgeois paradigms.”

Instead of condemning those who break the law, Moss says to exuberant applause, “Our society creates thugs. Children are not born thugs. Thugs are made and not born.” He adds, “This is good news for somebody who has a proclivity for ‘ghettoistic’ conduct.”

Indeed, it is good news for those who do not want to be held accountable for their own conduct. In making that statement, Moss endorses the message of many black leaders who encourage blacks to see themselves as helpless victims of a bigoted society. As outlined in the Newsmax article “Rev. Wright Furthers Black Victimhood,” the victim mentality limits blacks’ aspirations and torpedoes their chances at success.

I agree with Kessler’s assessment, and add to his observations the following:

Contrast Rev. Moss harsh, nearly vindictive assessments of these great men from the Bible with his overly gracious (to say the least!) view of Tupac Shakur as “a prophet.” And then the Reverend Moss – who called the prophetic composer of many of the songs in the Book of Psalms a “thug,” a “shot caller,” and a “player” – proceeded to quote at length his version of “prophetic song.”

Psalms is the longest book in the Bible, with 150 chapters. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow I don’t see this ditty making the cut and becoming the 151st Psalm.

I want you to understand something about the Bible; it is a story of God’s people, who are viewed warts and all. We know how these men started out; we even know how they managed to slip and fall down mid way through the journey of life. But ultimately, these stories are not about the men and women who slip and fall into the mud, but about the glorious God who is at work in their lives, and who brought life after life to triumph after triumph.

So Christians are aware of the dark side of its saints; but they are far more aware of the side that God created and developed in them.

Read Hebrews chapter 11, “the Faith Hall of Fame,” for the contrast of the spiritual Christian view with that of Obama’s new pastor:

# “It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about something that had never happened before. By his faith he condemned the rest of the world and was made right in God’s sight” (Heb 11:7 NLT).

# It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. he went without even knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent. And so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God made the same promise. Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. It was by faith that Sarah [the woman Abraham allegedly “pimped out”] together with Abraham was able to have a child, even though they were too old and Sarah was barren. Abraham believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man, Abraham, who was too old to have any children – a nation with so many people that, like the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them…. It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his ownly son, Isaac, though God had promised him, ‘Isaac is the son through whom your descendendts will be counted. Abraham assumed that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” (Heb 11:8-12; 17-19 NLT).

# It was by faith that Isaac blessed his two sons, Jacob and Esau. He had confidence in what God was going to do in the future. It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed down in worship as he leaned on his staff.

# It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the son of Pharoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasure of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of the Messiah than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt. He was not afraid of the king. Moses kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons” (Hebrews 11:24-28 NLT).

# Well, how much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death” (Hebrews 11:32-35 NLT).

These aren’t stories about “thugs”; these are stories about the God who transforms life after life when those lives come into contact with the living God. Trinity United Church of Christ fixates on where the saints of the Bible were at their worst, and leaves them there in an artificial portrait of negativity. And then it’s pastors paint a picture of victimhood and blame to justify that bleak portrait of the world.

Genuine Christianity – whether believers are red or yellow, black or white – fixates on the God who brings His saints to ultimate glory through faith. And when believers see that God, they can look beyond their circumstances and find the positive.

That’s the real problem with Trinity United and with its pastors former and current: there is a presentation of constant, unrelenting resentment, racism, and victimology, a seeing of the world through the prism of Marxist (i.e. liberation theology) thought rather than through the eyes of faith in the Christ of hope.

I don’t know what Trinity United Church teaches, but it isn’t the Christianity of Jesus Christ.

Let me share the real message of hope and change found in the message of Scripture:

Ephesians 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Philippians 1:20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

Colossians 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,

2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,

1 Timithy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope;

Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;

Hebrews 3:6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

Do you see the difference between what the Bible proclaims – and what Christian pastors preach to congregations of every race under heaven all over the world – with the message that Jeremiah Wright and Otis Moss preach?

It’s strange that Barack Obama – as the “candidate of hope and change” – chose to spend so much of his life surrounded by such a toxic congregation, filled with the despair of abandonment and the stagnation of racism, instead of seeking a congregation that genuinely understood the true hope and change found in the Christ he claims to worship.

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9 Responses to “Obama’s Pastors Don’t Preach the Bible”

  1. Tom Ryberg Says:

    My biggest problem throughout this entire episode with Wright (and now Moss, apparently) is the way that we Christians are willfully devaluing our own tradition for political purposes. I doubt there is a single pastor who can live up to the level of scrutiny that Wright and now Moss are having to undergo. Quite literally, there are reporters who will be sifting through every sermon preached at Trinity from now until the election just to find the next single statement that sounds funny out of context, in order to keep this dead story alive. And I’m sorry, but our clergy deserve better than that. I’m on the record saying it too – it’s wrong when the right does it to liberal pastors – and it’s wrong when the left does it to conservative pastors.

    Michael, you should consider the source of this anti-Moss perspective. Since when did NewsMax become a credible voice in biblical interpretation? Isn’t it more likely that their vested interested in promoting news from a conservative, anti-Obama perspective might be influencing their ability to fairly approach these issues?

    I’m a Christian seminarian, and I’ve gotta tell you, it is not fun to consider how clergy have become so disrespected by the media that patently unfair practices like context removal and sound-byte-stealing are all part of the game in politics. As a Christian yourself, I would hope that you’d be willing to extend good will towards your fellow Christian brothers and sisters, before political accusations. As one who has attended Trinity UCC, I can tell you that what they do is indeed different, but makes sense – in a very different context than most of us have ever lived, let alone run a church. I encourage you to open your heart to the possibility that your politics are clouding your heart on these issues. (I know they often cloud mine!)

    Peace,
    Tom

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Tom,
    It’s a bit disingenuous to ask, “Since when did NewsMax become a credible voice in biblical interpretation.” I posted an article that had some legitimate points to make – and you didn’t even address those points.

    In addition to the Ronald Kessler Newsmax piece, and my own thoughts, I also substantially interacted with the Book that Christians are supposed to recognize as God’s Word on the subject; but that didn’t seem to mean much to either. What gives? As a seminarian, you might have at least considered the passages I quoted!

    You know what? My pastor preaches the Bible. You can GO back twenty years, and you won’t hear ANYTHING like Wright’s garbage coming out of his mouth! And if he HAD said anything like that, I would have got up and walked out!

    As one who has gone through seminary myself, I am genuinely saddened by your views. A pastor’s message is only credible if it accurately reflects God’s Word. I frankly could care less whether the media “disrespect” pastors; all I care about is whether pastors respect the Word of God. Wright was NOT taken out of context; he has repeatedly defended ALL of his views. And now we know from his “Trumpet Magazine” that Wright says even more hateful things.

    If I said the kind of things that Wright has said when I was in seminary, I would have been expelled. And rightfully so.

  3. Tom Ryberg Says:

    Michael,

    I wanted to acknowledge that you are right to call me out on not addressing the content of the Newsmax article, nor your subsequent commentary. I still think it’s a biased article (and I’ll bet we can agree that Newsmax isn’t exactly the most neutral source available), but I shouldn’t have been so dismissive. Also, you raise some good points that warrant a proper response, (and will if I get some time tomorrow).

    One thought: I don’t expect us to agree on this point, but Wright’s message – and Moss’ – is, in fact, accurately reflective of God’s word, as interpreted from the stand point of Black Liberation Theology. Both Wright and Moss are extremely Bible-based – just through a different hermeneutical lens than I’d imagine you are. Judging from some of what you’ve written, it doesn’t seem that you are inclined to believe that there is more than one possible valid way to interpret scripture – yours. Still, I feel called to bring to your attention the possibility that yours may not be the only valid, Godly, or truthful understanding throughout all time – or even this time.

    Diversity (by which I mean ‘pluralism’ as opposed to the workplace concept) is present throughout every aspect of creation. Thus, I see no reason that God would want our thinking to be monolithic.

    Peace,
    Tom

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    Black liberation theology came directly out of Marxist thought. It is a documented historical fact. Christianity is viewed through the lens of Marxism, rather than Marxism being viewed through the lens of Scripture. It is vital to understand that Marxism and Christianity are two diametrically opposed systems of thought. Furthermore, liberation theology came out of the Catholic Church. It has been officially condemned by the Catholic Church as a heresy.

    When Sean Hannity confronted Jeremiah Wright, Wright pointedly ignored Christianity in favor of his liberation theology. When Hannity asked, “Now, Reverend, if every time we said black, if there was a church and those words were white, wouldn’t we call that church racist?” Wright said, “No, we would call it Christianity.” [I sure wouldn’t!]. And then he started arguing for and defending NOT the Christianity of Jesus, but the liberation theology of Jim Cone and Dwight Hopkins. Go to http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,256078,00.html and explain to me why you don’t have a problem with his views. Explain why you don’t have a problem with a man who makes the assertion that to be white is to be racist, and that “white America” created the AIDS virus as a genocide against people of color, etc.

    And yes, I DO believe that there is only one way to legitimately interpret Scripture – not MY way (as you blatantly mischaracterize me), but GOD’S way. It is HIS Word, after all. We interpret Scripture as our paradigm – Jesus Christ – interpreted it. God wants us to think like He thinks, rather than as Jeremiah Wright thinks. How’s that for monolithic?

    When Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me,” He is clearly saying there is ONE and ONLY one way. You can’t just look at the world any way you want and have it be as legitimate as any other way. Sorry if that seems politically incorrect, but it’s Jesus speaking, not me.

    Allow me to point out for the record that YOU are every bit as intolerant of MY position as I am of YOURS (or Wright’s). Few things annoy me more than the smarmy, passive-aggressive “tolerant-tyranny trip” where someone presents themselves as “tolerant” and characterizes those who disagree with their position as “intolerant.”

    Let me be clear in what I’m saying: if I’m not supposed to criticize the theology of Wright (or you, or whoever) because I’m somehow violating diversity or pluralism, then why are YOU criticizing me? Your position frankly commits suicide by contradiction. There’s clearly something wrong with this position.

    Jesus, in John 18:37 said, “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

    As for the concept of “truth,” the clear implication is that there must also be a LIE, or an ERROR. If Jesus was born and came into the world to testify to the truth, then clearly there’s something important in understanding the truth versus all the lies and error.

    Truth itself was – and is – on trial. When Pilate asked, “What is truth?” and turned away (from the One who is its very embodiment), he was taking your pluralistic position. Let me state categorically, he knows better now.

    2Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” This means that there is clearly an INACCURATE way to handle the word of truth.

  5. Thomas Jackson Says:

    Michael,

    Allow me to reassure you. Barack Obama is not a Marxist. Liberals are not Marxists. Exceptions aside (and there are exceptions), black liberation theology is not Marxist.

    Some of think this is a back-door attempt to sow racist-motivated fear.

    We can expect that, I think, from people who have no concrete ideas to sell during the general election. Expected, accounted for, and dismissed. It’s a distraction. Most of us don’t care if some preacher says Abraham was a pimp. If you think it’s an issue, then have someone ask Obama if he thinks Abraham was a pimp. Or any other of the ridiculous things that are in the above articles. We’ll all have a laugh, and then ignore the distraction.

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    Excuse me, Tom, but you really don’t know WHAT Obama is yet. He has chosen to attend a radical black liberation theology – AKA Marxist – church for over twenty years. Do we such arbitrarily decide to accept what Obama says, and ignore what he has done?

    Michael Pfleger – speaking before cheering thousands of Barack’s fellow Trinity Church members – clearly called for Marxist policies. He said that any white person who doesn’t give away his 401k and assets is a racist because he/she benefited from centuries of racist oppression. And the pastor Barack Obama endorsed – Otis Moss – thanked God for the message. And by the way, Pfleger actually served on Obama’s campaign, and Obama has called him a spiritual adviser.

    If you don’t care what is said in church, you don’t care about churches. You also don’t care about truth. What people say matters. And Barack Obama – by staying in that toxic church for over twenty years – endorses the views that are expressed.

  7. Thomas Jackson Says:

    OK, Michael.

    Like anybody is really going to believe any of that.

  8. Michael Eden Says:

    The thousands of people cheering Pfleger’s message in Obama’s Trinity United Church sure seemed to believe it.

  9. Thomas Jackson Says:

    thousands, eh?

    Did you poll them all to ask them if they believed all of it?

    Trust me, Michael, conservatives don’t want to get into this game.

    I can guarantee you that the overwhelming majority of the people in this country don’t think that this next election is about what wacky preachers on the left or the right have to say.

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