This is a pretty interesting article, written almost a year before the big blow-up over Rev. Wright. Only one thing particularly stood out to me as something I wanted to comment on, and it again gets to the divide between conservative and liberal Christianity. Obama apparently earlier wrote that he wasn’t sure what existed before the Big Bang, and he’s got his doubts about the afterlife. This leaves me very confused. This is simply not what I understand to be Christianity. Does that brand of “Christianity” include a God that exists for a finite period of time? A God who was somehow created, or perhaps Himself resulted from the Big Bang, the great un-caused effect? What salvation does a person who writes such things believes he received? Just an earthly salvation in some sense? Then salvation from what, and for what, and to what end? To me this just turns God into a big imaginary teddy bear or something, nice to cuddle when you’re feeling down but otherwise of no great or lasting consequence.

He also wrote (speaking of the time before he says he became a Christian) that he didn’t want a salvation “too easily won,” by which I assume he means won by him. (If he’s truly come to Christ, maybe he wouldn’t put it that way now — maybe he now understands that salvation isn’t something we can “win”.)

Anyway, this is a Christianity that doesn’t seem to share a lot in common with what I understand the term to encompass in its basics. I’ve never been able to really grasp the mindset of liberal Christianity, the ability to dismiss large swaths of Scripture as outmoded or allegorical while clinging to other parts as true and life-changing. It is also interesting that Obama (with Jim Wallis) was interested in pursuing some kind of “liberal Christian coalition.” I may be just blinded by my own worldview here, but I can’t imagine such a coalition ever succeeding. The “Christian coalition,” to the extent that it still really exists, had a pretty clearly defined point of unity, drawn from a conservative reading of Scripture. Liberal Christians, because they are much more open to different beliefs…I’m just not sure they have a sufficient degree of unity around the “Christian” part. Not to mention they (generally at least — I hate to lump so many disparate people into that ubiquitous “they”) believe other faiths are equally valid…so what is there to coalesce around? At the end of the day isn’t it really only the political beliefs + Jesus was a nice guy (possibly even the Son of God…though he may not have existed before the Big Bang and may not actually be preparing a room for us in heaven) who cared about the poor?

I really would like to understand this better from the viewpoint of liberal Christians. Not that I’m looking to change my own viewpoint, but understanding another’s views (again, generally speaking!) is a Good Thing.