Ravi Zacharias has a sharp response to President Obama’s reference to the Crusades last week. I was surprised to see this–mainly because it’s unusual to see Zacharias get so close to the political wood-chipper. But he does it here. For that reason alone, it’s worth passing it along to you. Here’s an excerpt:
For those who did not hear the talk, it is sufficient to say that it was the most ill-advised and poorly chosen reprimand ever given at a National Prayer Breakfast. I have been to several and have never, ever heard such absence of wisdom in a setting such as this. I wasn’t at this one but have heard the speech often enough to marvel at the motivation for such thoughts. President Obama basically lectured Christians not to get on a moral high horse in their castigation of the ISIS atrocities by reminding them that the Crusades and slavery were also justified in the name of Christ. Citing the Crusades, he used the single most inflammatory word he could have with which to feed the insatiable rage of the extremists. That is exactly what they want to hear to feed their lunacy. ?In the Middle East, history never dies and words carry the weight of revenge.
Read the rest here.
(HT: Eric Teetsel)
What surprises me is that so many have either knowingly or unknowingly misrepresented the Presidents straightforward point that all religions have had followers who have used their religion to justify acts of violence. And Denny contributes by continuing to link to such commentaries because he finds them “hilarious” (Moore’s comments) or “surprising” and “slamming.” What these comments really exemplify are political partisan attacks on a President by those who reject just about everything he says. The fact that the comments are from religious leaders does not change that reality. Really a sad commentary on how even religious leaders have been sucked into the partisan void where the worst in one’s opponent is assumed, and simple straightforward points are parsed to the point of meaninglessness. I do sometimes wonder what would happen if the President were to come out in favor of breathing.
I believe Denny is well within his right to cite people who are “calling out” the president for his disrespectful, inflammatory remarks. Please, Roy, share with us what you think the purpose was for Obama’s remarks. Or is it as it appears: that he invited religious leaders to the White House for “solidarity” only to unmask his real agenda of tongue lashing. What’s the Nobel Laureate doing now?
Tim, I stated what I believed to be the President’s basic point in my remarks above. I believe that you have also stated what you believe to have been his primary purpose, though I believe you are operating out of the widespread narrative that this President is hostile to Christianity, rather than a straightforward reading of the actual remarks. Whether or not that narrative is true, the remarks themselves are only disrespectful and inflammatory to those who are looking for such. You also should brush up on the National Prayer Breakfast. It is not hosted by the President, but by the US Congress, and is organized by the Fellowship Foundation (a highly secretive organization). It is not held at the White House, but the Washington Hilton hotel. I certainly did not challenge Denny’s right to call out the President. I just have issues with continuing the misrepresentation to score political points.
As an evangelical Christian its really frustrating that conservative Christians think Obama is hostile to Christianity when he’s actually only hostile to conservative policies. We as Evangelicals have got to stop confusing Christianity with conservative politics. The two have nothing to do with one another–and never have. I was happy to hear Obama’s remarks. It reminds us that, like Christ, we should be humble and not hypocritical when we speak of others.
If the shoe was on the other foot and it was Christians beheading Muslims, would he have told Muslims to hold their proverbial horses?
With all due respect sir, you can’t possibly be serious. Christianity and conservative politics generally go hand in hand. Christianity is a worldview. Obama actually believes that infanticide is ok, so how is that not Anti-Christian? He believes in “gay marriage,” and is pressuring the supreme court (at lease based on his public comments) to make it the law of the land. He doesn’t respect expressions freedom of religion in public square (which is where it really matters in terms of public policy) based on the Hobby Lobby case. And the media is now trying to make Republican’s look like religious zealots and anti-science moron’s by asking Scott Walker about his views on Evolution. I could go on and on, but you get the point, hopefully. Obama is as anti Biblical Orthodox Christianity as you can possibly get. And Leftism is fundamentally opposed to the Christian worldview, and Judeo-Christian values.
So please don’t give me that tired line about how Christianity and conservative politics have nothing to do with one another. If Christ is the Lord of anything, then he’s The Lord of everything!
Technicalities aside, we voted for Obama to lead our country, not lecture us on things he is clearly not qualified to do. That is the hypocrisy that no one desires to see present in the White House (or even the Washington Hilton Hotel). And just to clarify–Christians are not presently engaging in the crusades, and American Christians are not currently engaging in chattel slavery. Christians have moved beyond those things. Yet currently there are Christians being executed by militant Muslims. Obama’s “lecture” needed to be given to ISIS. Further, he was not elected during the crusades. He was not elected during the time of legal slavery. He was elected to serve as president during the time when ISIS is executing his own countrymen. He needs to lead us, not chide religious leaders for their moral outrage. The links Denny has provided do not misrepresent the President’s remarks.
Are you implying that this is due to racism?
Same could be said that the president has wondered into the religious arena where he is not equipped, nor has the theological wherewithal to make a statement like that, without the understanding that his word choices were inflammatory.
Do Christians really need a reminder of the un-Christ like behavior that was portrayed during the crusades? Or was it just a continued turning of the screw?
Ian, So, when a Christian president, who has been accused of not being a Christian, decides to speak about his faith at the National Prayer Breakfast, he should realize that he is “not equipped.” Or have I misinterpreted your remarks? Actually I think I understand them, but I would ask, for whom were his word choices “inflammatory.” The President referred to ISIS as ““a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism — terrorizing religious minorities like the Yazidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.” Are those the inflammatory words you speak of? ISIS might have been offended by those, or are you talking about Christians, some of who apparently do need a reminder of past un-Christ like behavior. I have seen comments in response to the President which show no awareness of the complexity of the Crusades (which was not the President’s topic) and which have sought to defend the Crusades as purely defensive. I am more than willing to have a discussion about historical events, but would you agree that some of the responses to the President have been over the top?
Roy, the office of the President is a position that will be scrutinized. Only the President himself knows what he meant by his comments or how he said them. All of us have subjective opinions about what he meant by what he said, both you and I included. It is well within our rights to question what and how he said something based on our own presuppositions and ideologies. It’s not what you say sometimes, but how you say it. I’ll leave it at that.
One thing I can tell you is this-Ravi Zacharias is a very measured man. He does not get tangled into politics very often, if at all. I think that was part of Denny’s point in the post. Perhaps there was something to what President Obama said, considering you now have someone well respected in both religious/non-religious circles speaking about this.
No one brought up him being Christian and being accused of not being a Christian. Why was that necessary to bring up? Unless you’re looking for a response about it?
But for the record, you are correct, President Obama did call ISIS a “brutal, vicious death cult…” and denounced what they have done. He also called the hypothetical scenario of his daughters becoming pregnant a “mistake” and also invoked God to “bless” Planned Parenthood to celebrate the right to kill an unborn child.
I suppose it is all about context and how he said it, right?
I’m still not seeing why the comparison is “tendentious”.
If the Crusades had been purely a defensive maneuver against an innocent victim state *and* if the Crusaders had conducted themselves in a Christlike manner then I might agree the comparison isn’t apt. But I don’t see that either of those is the case.
Urban, who launched the first crusade, gave as its stated goal restoring Christian access to the Holy Land. Even defensive support of the Byzantine empire is thought to have had an ulterior motive: the reunification of the eastern and western churches. Many nobility among the crusaders took fiefdoms for themselves instead of returning (formerly Muslim-controlled) land to their original owners. The sack of Constantinople happened. The Rhineland massacres happened. The massacre at Ayyadieh happened. Etc.
So yeah, I typo’d that. Should be: “If the crusades had been purely a defensive maneuver assisting an innocent victim state…”
The reason the President’s remarks were inflammatory has to do with the fact that Christians are being killed, beheaded, and burned alive. Their churches are being destroyed. Their children are being crucified. Children. Crucified. And the President’s response is to tell Christians to get off their high horse.
If you don’t see why that is a problem, then it is you who is being political.
No doubt there are atrocities happening but the main targets and victims of these barbaric actions are Muslims, not Christians. The destruction of the Christian community in Iraq started after the US invasion of that country. Recent events, while degrees worse, can be directly traced to that adventure which was and still is heavily supported by many Christian conservatives.
“President Obama basically lectured Christians not to get on a moral high horse in their castigation of the ISIS atrocities by reminding them that the Crusades and slavery were also justified in the name of Christ.”
I think Ravi Zacharias gets this part wrong. The issue is not castigating ISIS atrocities as the President has done plenty of that. He just isn’t using religion to do so other than saying these zealots do not represent Islam. The moral high horse would better apply to the superiority of Christianity over Islam and Obama’s words outraged those who cannot tolerate ever being equated with the followers of an inferior religion.
Thank you Johnny. Your concise point is appreciated.
Political? Conservatives have thrown everything at Obama they can–up to and including the kitchen sink. They routinely accuse him of the most horrible things based on the thinnest evidence. They would like nothing more than to hound the man from office. If he says the sky is blue, they’d say its a vicious like and its really red. Let’s just be honest here.
Doesn’t Jesus’ parable of the two men praying make the same point Obama did? So in addition to being deeply concerned about the plight of Christians in certain parts of the world, Christians should also be aware that the some of our brethren blame the whole religion of Islam for the killing of Christians while others proudly proclaim that our religion, Christianity, is a superior religion to Islam because it is a true religion of peace. Remember, Obama’s statements were qualified and directed toward anyone who would think that their fellow believers are superior to Muslims.
I am neither an Obama fan nor would I vote for him in any election. But he has a historically valid point to make to those who wish to feel superior to others. The Crusades, historically speaking, were about Popes seizing more political control via more territorial control. One of the main motivations provided for its participants was the promise of full indulgences. Finally, was the freedom for Christians to perform pilgrimages a justification for war?
Thank you for your perspective. Glad to see that there are some can see past partisanship to grasp the basic point the President was making.
James Harold Thomas
What high horse?
Those who talk as if Islam is inferior to Christianity on the basis of their followers.
James Harold Thomas
Officer, that man just assaulted and kidnapped my children! Please help!
Well m’am, don’t forget that your own grandfather was known as quite the troublemaker around here back in his day, so be careful not to get up on your high horse about it.
But… MY KIDS??!!
Yeah … yeah … watch how fast I go.
Is that an accurate depiction of what is going on? After all, isn’t Obama and others taking action already and isn’t Obama seeking new powers to act further?
What Obama said was not a substitute for action, it was an inhibitor to self-righteous prejudice while action is being taken.
While I am not defending President Obama, I certainly do not trust the insights and perspectives of Ravi Zacharias. How can a Christian apologist like Zacharias endorse a heretic like Joyce Meyer? So lets see Ravi slam the heretic he affirms as a great Bible teacher. As I and others have seen not many are willing to call Ravi out for his affirmations and associations.
well there are always disagreements.
most people here would endorse Matt Chandler who believes in mutual submission etc…
I think there is a difference between disagreement and affirming a heretic. I do think that most here would endorse Chandler. This falls in line with my point that most would have no problem with Ravi affirming a heretic. By the way, I think Chandler is way off and is not a pastor Christians should trust. Furthermore, I believe that those who partner with him are wrong for doing so.
The assumption that critics of Obama assume the worst is a bad assumption. He’s been in office 6+ years. His critics no longer have to assume.
There is a noticeable incongruity between Obama’s words and his deeds – For example, Obama spoke of the Dalai Lama at the NPB as one: “. . . who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings.” But is he pro-life by (political) deed? He also said: “. . . we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom — freedom of religion — the right to practice our faith how we choose . . .” Yet, people are compelled to violate their Scripture guided conscience in business. Has he acted on their behalf in any way for this “fundamental freedom”?
Some critics may be motivated by partisan politics. I suspect most of us have just grown weary of his policies. At this juncture, why should citizens give credence to his words?