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Mr. President, you have no authority here

February 12, 2015

President Obama recently caused a stir with some remarks in his address during the National Prayer Breakfast. Others have addressed the inaccuracies of some of his statements. Something else troubles me about his remarks. Our President has the audacity to imagine he has the right to speak for any religion and remonstrate those religions which do not fit his caricatures of faith. To lecture believers on the true teachings and history of their faith, to interpret the basic principles of other religions, and to pontificate on the believers responsibilities to faith is an act of folly and arrogance. No president has ever been elected as the papal authority of American or international religions. Our president has every right to speak for the nation and to speak on political matters. He has the right to express his own beliefs and to express his own opinions about other beliefs. However, he has no right to teaach Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or any other relgious group what is the appropriate application of their tenets. Mr. President, teaching people how to live out their faith is way above your pay grade.

I make it a habit to not get involved in discussions on politics. I have refrained from expressing my thoughts on many political issues confronting the nation and will continue to do so in the future. This blog is not a political platform in anyway and I am convinced the change our nation needs is not political, it is spiritual. However, the government’s relationship with the church and the church’s relationship with the government is far more than a matter of politics. A clear division between the church and the government is a major part of the doctrines developed in the Bible. Jesus draws a distinction between the things of Caesar and the things of God. The apostles recognized the inability of the government, even a religious government, to dictate moral behavior for Christians. God instituted three spheres of authority, family, state and church. These authorities are mutually supportive and complementary but each remains distinct from the others. To blur those distinctions damages all three institutions. The church’s confusion of her God given purpose with political activism is as misguided and ill-advised as our president’s attempt to teach all the religions of the world how they are to behave.

Christianity is spread by the persuasive proclamation of the gospel and by continued instruction in the Bible. Christianity is not spread by national power. Christian ethics are promulgated by thousands of anonymous volunteers, pastors and ministry leaders. Christian ethics are not taught by Presidential fiat. The president of the United States has never had authority to lead the churches and believers of our nation. Mr. President, you were not granted religious power by any decision of our nation, and even if you were, you would still have no authority to teach the church what it believes or how it is to apply those beliefs. If you desire to teach Christians how to behave, get involved in your church, teach a Sunday School class, go to Bible college, get ordained or be called to shepherd a church. The Oval Office is not a church and the President’s desk is not a pulpit.

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