Friday, 28 November 2008

Barack Obama and the incarnation

I've just written an article on the incarnation which will come out in the next edition of the Australian

 Presbyterian. One angle I'd thought of was looking at the election of Barack Obama and the incarnation. What's the conne

ction? Well the material didn't make the cut for AP, so here it is, slightly amended.

Barack Obama's election has triggered an outpouring of hopeful enthusiasm, some of which is almost messianic in its raptures. The response from conservative Christians seems to have been as much to this millennial fervour as

 to Obama himself. Lots of them have been saying “pray that he can keep his head with all this nonsense going on”. (There was a similar dynamic with the election of the Rudd government a year ago, though because we are usually more reserved about our politics it hasn’t been as exaggerated as in the US.)

The election is a significant historical event. Obama’s racial background, his age, hi

s political leanings, his background in community development, the use of the internet and the financial support of million

s of individuals all seem to make the 2008 election notable. The progress of his presidency will be fascinating. There is an important incarnational perspective on it.

The incarnation shows us the depth of our problem. Our world is not simply disorganised or uneducated. There is a wound which centres in the human heart, and runs through the whole created order and can only be restored by God’s healing. The evangelical sceptics of the Obama-hype have a point, a new president, no matter what his calibre, can not change that. Every declaration that we have entered into a brand new era of hope inevitably founders on the rocks of human sin.

However the incarnation is also God’s great affirmation of the world he has made, include people and our societies and even our political institutions. Our world can only be healed by God, but it will be healed. When the evangelical critics paint any hope in politics or enthusiasm for a political program  as wrong headed, they are in danger of losing sight of the incarnation. God says we matter and our life in his world matters.

There are elements of Obama’s platform with which most evangelicals would disagree. Still, we shouldn’t be surprised that people hope for good government and for change for the better. The incarnation says that is worth working for, it also says that we won’t find the change we really need in any politician.

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