What Does Barack Obama Believe?
By Austin Cline, About.com Guide
OBAMA in ‘The Audacity of Hope‘: “I was not raised in a religious household. For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness. However, in her mind, a working knowledge of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology.”
As a child in Indonesia, Obama studied for two years at one Muslim school and then two years at a Catholic school. In both places he experienced religious indoctrination, but in neither case did the indoctrination take hold: during Quranic studies he made faces and during Catholic prayers he would look around the room.
Eventually, Barack Obama abandoned this non-conformism and skepticism to be baptized as an adult in the Trinity United Church of Christ.
We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian… Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. … It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.
Trinity United Church of Christ adopted the Black Value System, written by the Manford Byrd Recognition Committee. .. Beginning in 1982, an annual Black Value System [..] was instituted. These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They consist of the following concepts:
* 1. Commitment to God. “The God of our weary years” will give us the strength to give up prayerful passivism and become Black Christian Activists, soldiers for Black freedom and the dignity of all humankind.
* 2. Commitment to the Black Community. The highest level of achievement for any Black person must be a contribution of strength and continuity of the Black Community.
Dedication to the Pursuit of Education. We must forswear anti-intellectualism. … “Real education” fosters understanding of ourselves as well as every aspect of our environment. Also, it develops within us the ability to fashion concepts and tools for better utilization of our resources, and more effective solutions to our problems.
Matthew 22:37 – Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.
The Bible is the main source for understanding the Good News. … The study of the scriptures is not limited by past interpretations, but it is pursued with the expectation of new insights and God’s help for living today.
Is the ‘Intellectual Christ’ the ‘Christ of the Bible’
Intellectuals, people of all colours who always place reason above faith (reason is colorless), tell us that the so called ‘Christ of the Bible’ was invented during the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine. :
“The Council of Nicea took place in 325 A.D. by the order of the Roman Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine. Nicea was located in Asia Minor, east of Constantinople. At the Council of Nicea, Emperor Constantine presided over a group of Church bishops and leaders with the purpose of defining the true God for all of Christianity and eliminating all the confusion, controversy, and contention within Christ’s church.
The Council of Nicea affirmed the deity of Jesus Christ and established an official definition of the Trinity—the deity of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit under one Godhead, in three co-equal and co-eternal Persons.” (gotquestions.org)
Faith and rationality are two modes of belief that exist in varying degrees of conflict or compatibility.
Rationality is belief based on reason or evidence. Faith is belief in inspiration, revelation, or authority. The word faith generally refers to a belief that is held with lack of, in spite of or against reason and evidence.
Gnosticism: God is a God of Reason
Back in the early centuries after Christ there were many Christians who did not accept the Christian ‘orthodoxy’ that was fast becoming dominant thanks to the patronage of the Roman Empire. These Christians had their own sacred writings and distinct traditions received from the apostles. One significant group of these early Christian ‘dissenters’ are identified as the ‘Gnostics’.
Gnostic Christians distrusted the surface manifestations of the orthodox Christians: the deity piously on display, officially worshipped and within everybody’s easy reach. Christ was the cosmic teacher who took on the form of the man Jesus to impart His gnosis to the apostles, but only gradually and not to all of them in equal measure.
With the triumph of the Roman Catholic Church in the fourth and fifth centuries, Gnostic Christians suffered persecution and were forced underground. (Gnostic Info)
Some scholars have claimed that gnosticism pre-dated Christianity. Such discussions have included pre-Christian religious beliefs and spiritual practices argued to be common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism and Neoplatonism. The discussion of gnosticism changed radically with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library and led to revision of older assumptions.
Gnosticism, like Christianity,
is a Divine Savior-orientated belief-system
The difference is that according Christian doctrine the supernatural Savior confers Love but at the same time denies Knowledge and self-effort (“not through works but through faith”, etc); while in Gnosticism the Savior confers spiritual Knowledge (Gnosis) yet at the same time dose not negate spiritual self-effort.
In Gnosticism then, Christ is not a blood-sacrifice figure who has to be tortured and executed to atone for man’s guilt and sin, but rather a messenger of saving Knowledge, very much like the Buddha who taught the way to Enlightenment and Nirvana.
And while the Christian religion simply equates Christ with God-Almighty (while further befuddling things with the three-in-one Trinity; Constantines’ politically expedient creation at the Council of Nicea), the Gnostic cosmology sees the Savior as simply one emanated Divine Principle among many. (The Gnostic Savior)
Save us from ignorance
According to Valentinus, Jesus is indeed Saviour, but the term needs to be understood in the meaning of the original Greek word, used by orthodox and Gnostic Christian alike. This word is ‘soter’, meaning healer, or bestower of health.
From this is derived the word today translated as salvation, i.e., ‘soteria’, which originally meant healthiness, deliverance from imperfection, becoming whole, and preserving one’s wholeness.
The Gnostic contention is that both the world and humanity are sick. The sickness of the world and its equivalent human illness both have one common root: ignorance.
We ignore the authentic values of life and substitute unauthentic ones for them. The unauthentic values are for the most part either physical or of the mind. We believe that we need things (such as money, symbols of power and prestige, physical pleasures) in order to be happy or whole.
Similarly we fall in love with the ideas and abstractions of our minds. (The rigidities and the hardness of our lives are always due to our excessive attachment to abstract concepts and precepts.)
The sickness of materialism was called hyleticism (worship of matter) by the Gnostics, while the sickness of abstract intellectualism and moralizing was known as psychism (worship of the mind-emotional soul).
The true role of the facilitators of wholeness in this world, among whom Jesus occupied the place of honor, is that they can exorcise these sicknesses by bringing knowledge of the pneuma (spirit) to the soul and mind.
The obsessive state of material and mental attachments is thus replaced by spiritual freedom; the unauthentic values of the former are made to give way to the authentic ones brought by the spirit. (The Gnosis Archive)