“He really didn’t just say that, did he?”
In an election in which nothing surprises me, this was a sucker punch I didn’t see coming.
I rewound the YouTube clip and listened again.
“…and Lord I pray that you would guard your own reputation because they’re gonna think their god is bigger than you if that happens…”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I went even further back and listened to the whole thing again. “Please, God, tell me I am not taking something out of context,” I prayed.
“…because there are millions of people around this world… praying to their god… whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah… that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons…
Did this guy just imply that Obama is aligned with someone other than Jesus Christ? Did this chuckhead just imply that every non-Christian religion is hoping Obama will win because Obama is not a Christian?
I went all the way back to the beginning of the clip and let it run all the way through to the end. I felt sick when I heard the following line…
“…So I pray that you would step forward and honor your own name in all that happens between now and election day…”
I like to think I’m a pretty devoted Christian. Some of my more left-leaning friends think I’m a raving fundamentalist. Some of my fundamentalist friends think I’m a liberal. Whatever you think, the bottom line is this; Jesus Christ died for all our sins. I have the promise of eternal life because of His resurrection.
Arrogant or not, I believe that the God I worship is the only God. Exclusionary or not, Jesus is the only way to God because, as He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No may comes to the father but through me.” The Bible stands alone as my guidebook for life because even after 2000+ years its wisdom and insight reflects an unchanging, eternal God whose love for me has never been in doubt and whose call to compassionate service and outreach is beyond question.
After hearing all that you might be tempted to think that I’d be one of those guys who would have shouted, “AMEN!”, in response to Conrad’s prayer.
You would be tragically, completely wrong.
My Christian belief system clearly leaves Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and a whole host of others standing on the outside of the gates to eternity. It’s a tough stance to believe in and, at times, is an uncomfortable theology to defend. It is hard for me to reconcile the notion that some of my closest, most valued friends may not join me in paradise one day precisely because of such a belief system.
Yet regardless of such an exclusionary theology, it does not take me off the hook for my constitutional responsibility; regardless of faith, ethnicity, or sex, I am obligated to fervently protect the rights and liberties of every member of this society.
Rev. Arnold Conrad crossed a very, very bright line between being a Christian leader who is supporting a political candidate whom he likes to be yet another shrill shill for the Republican Party. His commentary veiled as a prayer nauseated me. His assertion that he has the authority to question the Christian faith of Barack Obama, whether he agrees with Obama’s breed of Christianity or not, made me want to vomit.
God’s reputation isn’t on the line, friends.
Rev. Arnold Conrad’s reputation is on the line.
God - MY God - the God who sent his son Jesus to die for me, doesn’t NEED to step up and “guard [His] reputation,” as Rev. Arnold so ham-fistedly stated. God’s reputation is what it is. He is God. He is not the puppet of the Republican establishment and He does not need to respond to veiled threats of humiliation from people like Rev. Arnold Conrad. Whether John McCain wins this election or Barack Obama wins this election I know that God remains in authority over everything in the universe.
Rev. Conrad crossed a very distinct line between yearnings for spiritual power to yearning for political power in his invocation at that rally in Iowa. He substituted the power of the Holy Spirit for the power of the political elite, pinning hopes NOT on God, but on McCain and Palin. He showed himself to be the very worst kind of Christian; narcissistic, self-interested, and unable to imagine a world in which Christians don’t get to dominate the powerful halls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Rev. Arnold Conrad is the most despicable kind of Christian preacher. He capitalizes on fear, hatred, and zeal for a power not of God, but of the principalities and powers of this world. He implies that for God to do anything less than to appoint John McCain President would be an embarrassment not only to Christians but to God. He does not stop for even a moment to realize that what he is asking for is to manipulate God with the very same kind of tactics which Rev. Conrad so clearly uses on his own flock.
Manipulation and fear-mongering must stop here and now.
Whether Obama wins or loses God remains sovereign and Jesus remains alive.
Whether McCain wins or loses God’s reputation remains intact.
God is on neither McCain’s side nor Obama’s side. God is on His own side and the sooner we Christians realize it the sooner we will stop fretting over a loss of political power and start focusing on growth of spiritual power.
Let me put it another way, Rev. Conrad…
Have you ever considered that there is great power to be found in being the voice crying in the wilderness?
Have you ever considered that when you lose in the temporal you might just win in the eternal?
It’s time for us to stop aligning ourselves behind one party or the other and start aligning ourselves to GOD! It is time to stop pretending as if this candidate or that is God’s “chosen” one, the new Messiah sent to save us from ourselves. There is no saving us that is not done at the hands of God through the work of Godly people interested not in their own comfort, but in bringing the Gospel message to a hurting world. There is only one way to eternal life with God; Jesus Christ and His resurrection after death on the cross.
Rev. Arnold Conrad’s prayer showed him to be a manipulative, self-serving, glory hound who is leading his flock down a very dangerous, worldly path. He is telling his people that if God doesn’t do what they want Him to do he is not interested, not compassionate, or not obedient to the desires of the “created.”
God is God, Rev. Conrad. You are not. Whether millions of Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims are praying to their own gods is irrelevant. God moves to his own purposes, on his own timetable, and in ways that at times seem mysterious to those of us with deep, abiding faith in the living Christ. Any implication on your part that you can shame God or humiliate Him into obeying your personal desire for political power is a sick, perverse twisting of theology that must not be allowed time in any pulpit.