Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Christian Faith, Peace, and Mutual Edification
That’s what I’m talking about! Stephen Mansfield has stated that he won’t be voting for Barack Obama. But he still celebrates Obama’s Christian faith. So much so that he examines, explains and defends that faith in a new book, The Faith of Barack Obama.
This is the same guy who wrote The Faith of George W. Bush. He is a Republican who disagrees with Obama on some political issues, but he can still practice the unity that we have as brothers and sisters in Christ. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but I’ve read several interviews in which Mansfield discusses the book. My favorite is from Newsweek. Others can be found here and here. And this is an audio interview.
I don't agree with all of Mansfield's conclusions, but I appreciate his spirit and approach. Mansfield’s treatment has been called even-handed and fair-minded by most reviewers, much to the disappointment of some conservatives who want something less than fair-minded. In Mansfield's mind, these critics are basically saying "you are too Christian, you should be more Republican than you are Christian." But Mansfield explains his intentions: "I want to encourage [Obama's] faith and I believe he is sincere about his faith. What I have written is an honest, objective evaluation that celebrates Obama's faith to the extent it can be celebrated, questioned it where it had to be questioned, and basically tries to explain it in terms of our times, which is something we need, by the way, as we approach this election."
And Mansfield has a second purpose for this book. "One of my goals for this book besides just the content was to find the tone that I hope will be replicated a bit more in American politics. This vicious left/right fighting that is happening in America is paralyzing us. It is keeping us from accomplishing anything, and I have to say, as a Christian, it is ungodly. My hope was to write a book that would model a certain tone while communicating facts that people need to know."
Senator Obama himself calls this concept "disagreeing without being disagreeable." The apostle Paul put it this way in the Book of Romans,
"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Romans 14:19).
It is a Christian approach to differences of opinion. And I thank Mr. Mansfield for practicing it.