According to the New Testament gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, the messiah ascended into heaven, promising to return one day. In 2008, he made good on that promise, descending into Chicago’s Grant Park on a mission to redeem mankind and bring all men into a new promised land of his making. The former messiah’s public ministry lasted only three short years, yet his life remains the pivot point of history. On the third anniversary of the more recent messiah’s campaign, comparisons are appropriate and quite revealing.
Eschewing traditional methods of messiah-ship, e.g. healing the sick, sermonizing from the Mount, and rising from the dead, this savior instead stands atop Mount Tele-Prompter to lead the way to national salvation through his public proclamations. Yet the strategy he has pursued is a curious one.
Instead of calling people to follow him to greater faith, he has belittled the faithful, calling them weak and clinging. Instead of calling them to serve the poor, he has called all people to become poorer for the sake of equality, demanding that more be rendered unto Caesar. Instead of instructing his followers to help the wounded on the side of the road, he asked for money to shovel the road. Unfortunately, the shovel was willing but the spirit was weak.
Instead of protecting the most vulnerable in society, life in its most nascent form is now to be created to be destroyed for the sake of science. Under the auspices of improved health care, he, in a cruel irony, mandated that the faithful provide products (contraception) and services (abortion) that offend their deepest beliefs. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in America as it is in Chicago.
Even nature was not beyond his reach. Parting the Red Sea and walking on water paled in comparison to his promise to lower the sea levels. Watch and learn, King Canute. The tide of history had ushered in a new reality, and the arc of history would now bend in service to the gospel he proclaimed. Traditional church attendance was therefore rendered moot, unless he was campaigning. The word was with him, and the word was him. There was no need to go elsewhere to hear it.
At the same time, he redefined settled teaching on foundational issues. Ignoring even his own church’s definition of marriage, he refuses to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act and encourages litigation against traditional marriage in California and across the nation. Millennia of religious consensus on the sanctity of traditional marriage were breezily cast aside in service to a contemporary ethic (and fringe voting bloc) whose only credo is absolute sexual freedom without limit, or responsibility.
And he commanded his apostles to spread this gospel to the ends of the federal bureaucracy. His Department of Justice argued against a ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws for religious institutions, and his EEOC helps foster a culture of victimhood and discrimination; both are natural outgrowths of this new gospel. The Obama gospel is one not of individual responsibility and freedom, but of collective dependence – on him, his agents of “change,” and the ministries they create to enforce the new kingdom. The politics of victimization and dependence abide no deviation or heresy; all must bend the knee to his kingdom. In him do we live and move and have our being.
And our sustenance. Israel’s manna in the desert and the feeding of the five thousand pale in comparison to his provision: millions have been fed through the new manna, food stamps. Not content to simply rob Peter to pay Paul, this new messiah does not clear the temple of the tax collectors, but builds new temples to employ the legions of tax collectors necessary to enforce the historic indebtedness his beneficence requires. The Promised Land will indeed be found, but without milk and honey. Rather, multi-generational penury is the defining hallmark of the new Canaan. Forty years in the wilderness of suffocating national debt is a small price to pay for the fulfillment of his progressive vision of equal poverty under his rule. His kingdom has come. The people are poorer, but they are told they are better off; they just don’t realize it yet. Their savior is at hand, and at work. Trust him. He only needs four more years.