Obama misses the real 'Reason for the Season'

Andrew Schwartz
President Obama, perhaps feeling pressure from Gov. Rick Perry, felt it prudent recently to speak about the "Reason for the Season" at the "Christmas in Washington" event in Washington, DC, on Sunday.

Speculation about the sincerity of President Obama's professed Christian faith has followed him since his campaign for the Presidency began. This speech did nothing to assuage those speculations. If anything, it has for me intensified my skepticism.

Here's why:

"This is the season to celebrate the story of how, more than two thousand years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among cattle and sheep.  He was no ordinary child.  He was the manifestation of God's love.  And every year we celebrate His birth because the story of Jesus Christ changed the world.  For me, and for millions of Americans, His story has filled our hearts and inspired our lives.  It [the story] moves us to love one another; to help and serve those less fortunate; to forgive; to draw close to our families; to be grateful for all that has been given to us; to keep faith; and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity." --Barack Obama, Dec 11, 2011.

For Obama, it appears, it is not Christ that we celebrate at Christmas. It is merely the story of Christ. Four times Obama denied the actual accomplishments of God by reducing His glory to a potential subject of Oprah's Book Club. He has deftly left himself free from actually being accused of proclaiming the Gospel by invoking, as Christians might invoke Zeus or Achilles, merely "the story" of Jesus.

Christians do not celebrate a "story" at Christmas, just as atheists and theists alike do not celebrate the story of their own respective birth on the appointed day. No, we celebrate the actual birth of Christ -- the infinite grace of the omnipotent God, who, despite the total depravity of mankind and mankind's complete inability to redeem himself, sent a perfect incarnation of His nature to dwell among those who perpetually and insistently defy His laws, and to offer this incarnation as a freely-given sacrifice to propitiate our moral criminality, sufficient for all but efficient for those whom He regenerates. That the infinitely sovereign and good God was pleased to demonstrate His boundless grace to an otherwise unredeemable people by sending a perfect sacrifice and intercessor for our transgressions is truly something to celebrate.

Christians do not believe that it was "the story" of Christ that changed the world. It was the actual presence of Christ -- His birth, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection -- that changed the world. Nor is it "the story" of Christ that fills the Christian heart and inspires his life. It is the actual forgiveness of our sins, and His constant intercession, which allows the absolutely abhorrent to commune with the Supreme and Ultimate Authority of the universe, that inspires worship.

It is "HE," not "IT" that moves us "to love one another; to help and serve those less fortunate; to forgive." These works -- without the understanding of a superterrestrial and metaphysical sovereign grace -- are inherently rooted in avarice, are as filthy rags, and may only at best be called "ostensibly altruistic." Only with the example of One who had nothing to gain and everything to lose (for all power and glory was His already) by being "made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death," would actually by the grace of God "taste death for every man," giving mankind the capacity for a different motive other than selfishness.

(The remainder of Obama's list -- "to draw close to our families; to be grateful for all that has been given to us; to keep faith; and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity" -- does not require Christ as an agent. People naturally and selfishly draw close to those who may offer them protection and comfort; they are naturally and selfishly grateful for gifts, lest they never be given anything again; they naturally keep faith, though it is unwisely placed in themselves or others, not God; and they naturally and foolishly have an enduring hope for humanity despite the preponderance of evidence for the depravity of man, while "we repeatedly enlarge our instrumentalities without ever improving our purpose.")

The existence of Christ is indisputable, even for the secular. The accomplishments of Christ by the grace of God, for the Christian, are the basis of our Faith. To reduce the former to a mere "story" is ignorance; to reduce the latter is evidence of an unregenerate soul.

Andrew Schwartz is a writer at BearingDrift.com, and a Summa Cum Laude historian out of Old Dominion University, focusing on Early American political and intellectual history

President Obama, perhaps feeling pressure from Gov. Rick Perry, felt it prudent recently to speak about the "Reason for the Season" at the "Christmas in Washington" event in Washington, DC, on Sunday.

Speculation about the sincerity of President Obama's professed Christian faith has followed him since his campaign for the Presidency began. This speech did nothing to assuage those speculations. If anything, it has for me intensified my skepticism.

Here's why:

"This is the season to celebrate the story of how, more than two thousand years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among cattle and sheep.  He was no ordinary child.  He was the manifestation of God's love.  And every year we celebrate His birth because the story of Jesus Christ changed the world.  For me, and for millions of Americans, His story has filled our hearts and inspired our lives.  It [the story] moves us to love one another; to help and serve those less fortunate; to forgive; to draw close to our families; to be grateful for all that has been given to us; to keep faith; and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity." --Barack Obama, Dec 11, 2011.

For Obama, it appears, it is not Christ that we celebrate at Christmas. It is merely the story of Christ. Four times Obama denied the actual accomplishments of God by reducing His glory to a potential subject of Oprah's Book Club. He has deftly left himself free from actually being accused of proclaiming the Gospel by invoking, as Christians might invoke Zeus or Achilles, merely "the story" of Jesus.

Christians do not celebrate a "story" at Christmas, just as atheists and theists alike do not celebrate the story of their own respective birth on the appointed day. No, we celebrate the actual birth of Christ -- the infinite grace of the omnipotent God, who, despite the total depravity of mankind and mankind's complete inability to redeem himself, sent a perfect incarnation of His nature to dwell among those who perpetually and insistently defy His laws, and to offer this incarnation as a freely-given sacrifice to propitiate our moral criminality, sufficient for all but efficient for those whom He regenerates. That the infinitely sovereign and good God was pleased to demonstrate His boundless grace to an otherwise unredeemable people by sending a perfect sacrifice and intercessor for our transgressions is truly something to celebrate.

Christians do not believe that it was "the story" of Christ that changed the world. It was the actual presence of Christ -- His birth, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection -- that changed the world. Nor is it "the story" of Christ that fills the Christian heart and inspires his life. It is the actual forgiveness of our sins, and His constant intercession, which allows the absolutely abhorrent to commune with the Supreme and Ultimate Authority of the universe, that inspires worship.

It is "HE," not "IT" that moves us "to love one another; to help and serve those less fortunate; to forgive." These works -- without the understanding of a superterrestrial and metaphysical sovereign grace -- are inherently rooted in avarice, are as filthy rags, and may only at best be called "ostensibly altruistic." Only with the example of One who had nothing to gain and everything to lose (for all power and glory was His already) by being "made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death," would actually by the grace of God "taste death for every man," giving mankind the capacity for a different motive other than selfishness.

(The remainder of Obama's list -- "to draw close to our families; to be grateful for all that has been given to us; to keep faith; and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity" -- does not require Christ as an agent. People naturally and selfishly draw close to those who may offer them protection and comfort; they are naturally and selfishly grateful for gifts, lest they never be given anything again; they naturally keep faith, though it is unwisely placed in themselves or others, not God; and they naturally and foolishly have an enduring hope for humanity despite the preponderance of evidence for the depravity of man, while "we repeatedly enlarge our instrumentalities without ever improving our purpose.")

The existence of Christ is indisputable, even for the secular. The accomplishments of Christ by the grace of God, for the Christian, are the basis of our Faith. To reduce the former to a mere "story" is ignorance; to reduce the latter is evidence of an unregenerate soul.

Andrew Schwartz is a writer at BearingDrift.com, and a Summa Cum Laude historian out of Old Dominion University, focusing on Early American political and intellectual history