Bad, Ignorant Theology

I noticed yesterday that the Rev. Arnold Conrad of Davenport, Iowa, began a rally for McCain with prayer (good so far). Pastor Conrad, however, urged God to bring about a McCain victory — not because he supports all the evangelically correct causes, but because people of other faiths are praying for Obama, and it would be bad for (the Christian) God’s reputation if they could think their prayers availed.
 
To make matters worse, it sounds as though Pastor Conrad thinks “Hindu” is the name of a deity: “Millions of people around this world praying to their god—whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah….” I’ll cut him some slack on Buddha, but it heightens the already-celestial ludicrousness of this intercession when he incorporates “Hindu” into that sequence.
 
Let’s see: two Christians are running for President, and God should favor one over the other because non-Christians favor the second. That makes the prayers of those non-Christians pretty powerful; think what might happen if the non-Christians of the world should get together and pray for world peace. Or, one supposes, cataclysmic war, since then God would have to bring about peace to spite them.
 
But wait — the McCain campaign issued a statement about the incident. They did not say, “Sorry, that was a foolish idea” or “We understand that Hindu is not a god,” but they did say, “Questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions….” But clueless Pastor Conrad hadn’t said anything about Obama’s faith (or McCain’s), at least not in the CNN story. The McCain spinmeisters had to use the opportunity to talk about religion as an occasion to imply that Obama himself was non-Christian.
 
Well, it looks as though this will take care of itself in the next few weeks. A couple of days ago, Palin indicated that McCain would end “abuses of power” in Washington, thereby ruling out a role for her in national government; and yesterday, McCain held one of those town hall meetings he so favors, but he left before the question-and-answer period that he himself had promised when he began talking.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’m trying to imagine now what a “good” prayer would be for a political rally. I’m thinking probably the best thing would be the same sort of prayer that happens sometimes when Christians meet before a sports contest:

    “Lord, help us to play hard, to enjoy ourselves, and don’t let anyone get hurt. Amen.”

  2. I came to this site as a way of choosing whether or not to buy “Faithful Interpretation.” I am not a GOP/Republican fan boy, but what I see here is evidence of intellectual dishonesty and a politics driven theology rather than vice versa.

    While I believe that some systems of government are more ethical and righteous than others, and some are just flat evil, I also believe that Scripture speaks prophetically against human institutions and power in such a way that any faithful Christian should be given pause in categorically and uncritically endorsing a party or candidate, especially with such a heavy-handed, ungenerous and belittling manner with regard to his opponent.

    As far as judging prayers go, as long as mine are as impoverished as they are I will refrain from publicly criticizing those of another. It just feels way to much like “Lord, I thank you that I am not like those sinners.”

    I truly hope that you do not believe that an Obama presidency will immanentize the eschaton. One thing I know as much as anything is that every solution we offer to fix this broken and wounded world eventually creates another set of problems.

    If I could draw, I’d make a political cartoon. A winding road with a car in the right lane with America painted on the roof. The license plate reads Nixon. Next panel, same car, license plate reads Carter and it’s in the left lane. Next panel, back in the right with Reagan/Bush. Next, back in left with Clinton, next back in the right with Bush 2. Final panel it’s back on the left with Obama on the plate. On the right a sign: Hell-in-a-Hand-Basket 5 miles ahead.

    That’s not a reason for inaction, but it is a warning to caution and humility, none of which is evidenced on this blog. It is a reason to pull out our spiritual sextants and reorient ourselves on the Bright and Morning Star and not some political candidate.

    Like the people of Israel, Americans these days long for a king, someone to fix all our problems. I already have my King, and whether I live under tyranny or under liberty, “I will lie down and sleep in peace,” and “though He slay me [or let a political candidate I dislike get elected] yet will I trust in Him.”

    If McCain wins I will praise God. If Obama wins I will praise God. If Obama wins I will serve God. If McCain wins I will serve God. If the one I vote for gets elected I will not act as if he’s the second coming. If the one I don’t vote for gets elected I will not act as if it’s the end of all good things.”

    Your write: “The McCain spinmeisters had to use the opportunity to talk about religion as an occasion to imply that Obama himself was non-Christian.” That’s just “bad, ignorant” hermeneutics, and the use of “spinmeisters” speaks volumes.

    It is doubtful to me if anyone who is unable to apply a healthy hermeneutics in evaluating human programs, policies and politics could possibly develop one for better understanding the Word of God.

    As a DCE, I’ll take a pass on “Faithful Interpretation” as a tool to use in our church’s exploration of The Book of Faith.

  3. Bo, I’m sorry I gave offense. Perhaps you think that it’s good, intelligent theology to propose that God award the election to McCain; perhaps you think that I’m shilling on behalf of Obama (try to persuade my daughter of that). Perhaps you think that, when McCain’s representatives were asked about this invocation, they were correct to change the topic to the religious background of the candidates (the opening invocation apparently addressed only the religion of foreign believers, not the candidates’).
     
    While I wish you had read and enjoyed Faithful Interpretation, it sounds as though you might not have been persuaded anyway. I wish you well anyway, and I hope that someday we may work out some of the conflicts that presently set you at odds with me.

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