Matthew 25 Network’s Obamessiah Complex

Imagine Matt 25
I am a Christian.  I go to church every Sunday.  I believe that God’s Kingdom is breaking into the world today, and that justice is a primary calling of all Christians.  I also like Senator Obama.  I’ve given money to his campaign, and will volunteer for his campaign this fall.  With that profile, I’m supposed to like the Matthew 25 Network, the Christian political action committee organized to support Barack Obama in the November election.

But I don’t.  I won’t be joining the Matthew 25 Network’s Facebook group, nor will I send this group my money.  I like Obama, and I like the call to action that Matthew 25:35-40 represents, but I wouldn’t conflate the two.

I find the above poster disturbing, showing Senator Obama’s profile positioned alongside the words of Jesus – as if those words and the symbol of Barack Obama are one in the same.  Obamamania is morphing into an Obamessiah complex.

I’m tired and can’t write much right now – I leave on an eleven-day church trip to El Salvador in 36 hours – but I agree with pastorricky99 who commented on Matthew 25 Network’s YouTube page:

Why can’t Matthew25 use this as an opportunity to encourage social
action and gospel truth and challenge candidates to respond
appropriately? As it stands, this organization appears to be a full
scale endorsement of Obama, and not an organization that will challenge
the next president to be the one who exemplifies Matthew 25:35-36.

The uncritical embrace of Senator Obama – placing Jesus’ words into his mouth, claiming that as President Barack Obama would stand for Matthew 25:35-36, the “proudly endorse” language – is all a bit much.  This is not an anti-poverty organization – it is a political action committee using religious texts to endorse a political candidate.  And that crosses a line.  That bothers me.

Another few thoughts: I am sure that there are many Christians – from the left and right – who stand for the truths of Matthew 25:35-36.  But what is the role of government in this (faithful Christians can disagree on this issue)?  Matthew 25:35-36 makes no claim to Caesar, but to the Christian.  And what will the Matthew 25 Network do when President Obama has to cut funding to anti-poverty programs?  Will they care?  Will they even be there?  Or will his halo turn into Devil’s horns?

Senator Obama is already on a pedestal.  We need not put him on a cloud with a halo over his head.  Obamamania is bad enough.  This Obamessiah Complex is beyond belief.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Published by Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. Veteran. Jedi. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.

7 thoughts on “Matthew 25 Network’s Obamessiah Complex

  1. No better than when the other side of the aisle were so clearly supporting the Republican presidents. Akkkkk.
    I think that there is a problem when we think one person can solve any earthly problems. The President will ALWAYS have too much on his plate. However, I do think that whomever is the Pres can slightly shift the tides of government.

  2. Ah, I haven’t commented on this blog in a long time. It feels good to be back.
    I think yours is an overreaction due to a poorly placed picture. It looks to me as if a design person just got it wrong.
    Why not have a religious organization that puts forward a single candidate who agrees with them? Especially when they seem ready to make a strong, Biblical argument as to why they have endorsed Obama.
    And doing so can be “an opportunity to encourage social action and gospel truth and challenge candidates to respond appropriately”. Reminding a candidate that appeals to faith are not always treated as negative (or conservative) can challenge that candidate. And such reminders help raise the level of dialogue about faith in the public sphere.
    Matthew25’s ad is not Messianic Obama-ism. With the quote so close to Obama’s face, the ad represents simply a bad choice of design placement.

  3. Someone involved with Matthew 25 sent me a thoughtful and helpful email. I’ll leave it up to him/her to post a comment here, if they so desire. But in response I tried to articulate (somewhat) more clearly my concerns about Matthew25’s endorsement and use of Scripture:
    I worry when we claim to have a candidate who “stands for” Biblical principle (I also critiqued Obama’s “Christian” flyer that was distributed in Kentucky). We all cry and complain when the Republicans do this kind of crap. As a pastor-to-be, who will have Republicans and Democrats in my congregations – all children of God with honest disagreements on politics – I draw a line at using Scripture (which is a book of faith for people of faith) to endorse a candidate or political party. God is not a Republican . . . or a Democrat.
    I occasionally attended dances at Roman Catholic schools as a kid. The joke was that the nuns would require you to “keep some room for the Holy Spirit” during the slow dances, lest the two little lovebirds get too close and too frisky. I feel like a little “room for the Holy Spirit” is healthy in the relationship of faith and politics, lest we get too close and too frisky with political aspirations and expectations for any one candidate.
    I think that Christians need to be engaged in the political process, and to that end I think what Matt25 does is commendable. But . . . for me it just goes too far. My faith leads and guides my engagement with politics, and informs my perspective on various policy issues – which could easily lead me to vote for a Jew, an atheist, a Muslim, etc.. You see, I care not about the faith of a politician, but about their politics (as I’m sure you and others in Matthew 25 would agree). I’ve seen enough of politics and brokenness in our leaders (and in myself) to ever put too much hope and aspiration that someone will truly embody Christian beliefs and practices in office. I simply hope that as President Barack Obama can nudge us in a more positive political direction, and do right by our Constitution and our nation.
    His policies seem to align with my policy perspectives. I’m going to vote for him. But I’m not ready to “imagine a president who stands for [biblical principle].” That’s going too far for me. It’s good enough that he has good political policy. I don’t need to imagine him as a “Christian” or “Bible-believing” president. Those are not criteria for holding the Office of the President of the United States.

  4. I can see where you’re coming from, and I agree. Maybe I am not (and was not) as appalled as you are because–especially during campaigns–things get so out of hand so easily, and it’s hard to pinpoint who’s “fault” it is (if it’s really anyone’s). If this were the Obama campaign’s doing I might feel differently, but I sort of just get that another group is idolizing Obama in a way that we haven’t really seen yet.
    I do agree that religion and politics should be farther apart than they are, and I am exhausted sometimes by just trying to keep them that way in my head, but for whatever reason I’m still not feeling offended. Logically I am, but emotionally I’m just rolling my eyes.

  5. Amen, Chris. I would even go as far as saying that we pastors shouldn’t endorse ANYONE publicly, though of course the option of supporting a candidate through private donations is always an option. But that part’s just my opinion – anyone with half a brain can see just what you’re talking about, Chris. The Daily Show makes a messianic joke just about every night, and most of them are pretty funny, but after a while you have to wonder what the fallout’s gonna be like if Obama is elected and reality sets in.

  6. I don’t have more time right now, but I agree with you. I think, as public people, anyway, we need to stick to ISSUES, not candidates or parties (especially parties). Parties and candidates can co opt religion for its own purposes. I think that is really what happened on the right.
    more later.

  7. I am on the fence about the constructiveness of the Matthew 25 movement. I also think that if the truth were told, we could do better in most of our congregations to evaluate our ministries, the way in which we spend our money and energy, etc… in pursuit of the vision of Matthew 25.

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