OPEN LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA ON HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY “A PROMISED LAND” Part 62 Jeremy Livermore “Now, interestingly, the writings of Paul Tillich, a notable theologian during the 1950’s who responded to the governing voices of humanist existential thinkers, influenced President Obama”

Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer.jpg

January 26, 2021

Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
P.O. Box 91000
Washington, DC 20066

Dear President Obama,

I wrote you over 700 letters while you were President and I mailed them to the White House and also published them on my blog http://www.thedailyhatch.org .I received several letters back from your staff and I wanted to thank you for those letters. 

I have been reading your autobiography A PROMISED LAND and I have been enjoying it. 

Let me make a few comments on it, and here is the first quote of yours I want to comment on:

On page 286 you talk about speaking at the 2009 National Prayer Breakfast and in fact you spoke at 2 of those in 2009 and one each February you were President!! Let me quote from one of those speeches of yours below!

                                 June 19, 2009
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE ESPERANZA NATIONAL HISPANIC PRAYER BREAKFAST
J.W. Marriott
Washington, D.C: “At a time when there’s no shortage of challenges to occupy our time, it’s even more important to step back, and to give thanks, and to seek guidance from each other — but most importantly, from God. That’s what we’ve come here to do.”

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR GUIDANCE FROM GOD’S WORD OR FROM OTHER SOURCES LIKE LIBERAL THEOLOGIANS DO?

As a Christian I accept that the Bible is the word of God and inerrant. I understand that you take a much more liberal view of the Bible. Your church denomination includes very liberal theologians and Paul Tillich is probably the most prominent in the past. 
A perfect example of religious liberalism was found in a recent prayer to open Congress on January 3, 2021 by your friend from Missouri:

January 4, 2021 – Monday 

Awoman’s Place Is in the House?

January 4, 2021

By Tony Perkins

House Democrats sure didn’t waste any time sparking controversy. The 117th Congress had barely been gaveled in when Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) decided to stir the pot with a “prayer” that has several Americans wondering what, exactly, our country is in for under this leadership. In a word, the Washington Times warned: godlessness.

Maybe Cleaver was trying to be clever, but when he ended his invocation by saying “Amen and Awoman,” few were amused. His attempt at “inclusivity,” as Democrats called it later, was highly offensive — especially as Republicans prepare to duke it out over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) new “gender-neutral House rules.” In her proposal, words like “mother and father,” “son and daughter,” and “aunt and uncle” would be forbidden — an attempt, she claims, to “honor all gender identities.” Whether Cleaver was trying to lay the groundwork for Pelosi’s agenda or not, his “woke” prayer created more fury than the unity Democrats promised.

“It shows you how out of touch the Democrats in the House are,” Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) fumed. “They are so fixated on ‘degenderizing’ everything they even take it to prayers, and to a word that has nothing to do with gender.” He’s right. “Amen” comes from the Hebrew word that means “so be it.” Surely a Methodist minister like Cleaver learned that on his way to a Master’s of Divinity?

But as nonsensical as the prayer’s signoff was, “awoman” wasn’t even the most horrifying part. In the truly problematic portion of his invocation, Cleaver actually invoked the names of multiple deities, including Hindu’s Brahma. “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths.” Brahma gets mentioned by name, while Jehovah is simply called “the monotheistic God” that Cleaver lumps together with other monotheistic gods like Allah. Frankly, it’s an insult — not just to America’s religious community, but to our Judeo-Christian heritage as a nation.

Scripture teaches that prayer should be addressed to the triune God of the Old and New Testament,” FRC’s David Closson points out. “Christians should recognize that prayer offered to another deity is a form of false worship. But Cleaver’s theologically muddled prayer is a good reflection of much of what passes for Christianity today and a reminder that those serious about the gospel have much work to do.”

Of course, this isn’t the Left’s first swipe at God (2012 Democratic National Platform, anyone?), and it won’t be the last. But the notion that prayer is something that can be scoffed or diluted on the floor of one of the world’s most powerful institutions is a step too far. “Praying to a bunch of gods, so as to include all believers, all faiths, even non-believers and atheists and pagans, is not the way to secure our country’s walk on a godly course…” Cheryl Chumley chides. “That this prayer came from the mouth of a Methodist preacher makes the offense all the worse. Shouldn’t he know better?” Worse, she writes, “Take out the Judeo-Christian faith from America’s founding, and you take out the idea that rights come from God, not government. You remove the foundation upon which America was built — upon which American Exceptionalism is based.”

In the end, that’s exactly what the Left wants — an end to exceptionalism, truth, and any moral authority that stands in the way of their agenda. But if Democrats keep pushing the issue, trying to remake America in their godless image, watch out. The message voters sent in House races last November will only get louder.


Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.

Schaeffer went on to analyze how neo-orthodoxy ultimately gives way to radical mysticism:

Karl Barth opened the door to the existentialistic leap in theology… He has been followed by many more, men like Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Bishop John Robinson, Alan Richardson and all the new theologians. They may differ in details, but their struggle is still the same—it is the struggle of modern man who has given up [rationality]. As far as the theologians are concerned … their new system is not open to verification, it must simply be believed.10

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem, 2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism), 4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites, 6.Shishak Smiting His Captives, 7. Moabite Stone, 8. Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.,

This article shows the connection between Paul Tillich and your religious liberal views! 

On Courage, Existential Philosophy, and the Audacity of Truth

Written by Jeremy Livermore on 14 February 2009. Posted in Blogs – Jeremy Livermore

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” – Thomas Paine, The Crisis

What the deist Thomas Paine wrote better describes the measure of Biblical courage– the ability to advance what one reasonably knows is true when doubt weighs heavy and there is seemingly only hopelessness to embrace. To have this courage is essential to a mature Christian faith. It takes courage-to-be a Christian thinker while the world moves in and out of philosophical belief systems. Courage is necessary to face the onslaught of non-Christian worldviews and philosophies that pop-up again and again in everyday conversations. Moreover, because philosophy changes culture like nothing else can, I believe that the courage-to-be Christian in spite of the philosophical pluralism that abounds today is necessary for cultural change.

Just realizing that we live in a post-modern Western world is too shallow of an analyses. The truth is that there is a plethora of worldviews from strong philosophical systems of ages ago still to grapple with in the public square today. That is, Obama is half-black and president. But this does not mean we are in a post-racial world where racism is triumphed because a half-black man is the highest public office. No racism still abounds today. Likewise, Western societies are still negotiating with existential anxiety, lostness, and dread. We may not be living in such a post-existential world just yet. Among the many philosophical systems that abound today, it seems that there is a lurking existentialism that persists, virtually shadowed by other worldviews. Taken down to the individual level, the existential worldview for a non-believer seems to be the crux of the matter for a person to live for Jesus. After much truth is conveyed in an appropriate apologetic fashion, he/she typically contends “Even if Jesus is not a fairytale, what will he do for me? I already have sufficient reasons for my existence in this world!”

Additionally, one of the ultimate tasks of apologetics is to help remove the intellectual barriers and road blocks that a person has which keeps them from coming face to face with Jesus. At the heart of apologetics is Jesus. Once the struggles of doubt, competing worldviews, and falsities are removed, the soul has nowhere to hide. Light encounters darkness. A decision must be made. Apologetical truth and diplomacy can do nothing efficient at this point because this is where the pure and unadulterated gospel (good news) is timely and poignant. This is the point of conversion or rejection. The soul needs at this moment courage to face the truth of his existential lostness. It is at this moment a person can introspectively turn towards Jesus for healing & the satisfying meaning for his existence or continue to subjectively search for his existential meaning elsewhere.

This persistent existential search is comfortable for the rejecting soul and makes sense when one considers the humanistic backdrop of mankind’s history without God. People from the tower of Babel till now subjectively and objectively acknowledge that life apart from an ultimate higher purpose tends towards abstraction and hedonism. So where does that lead one to? – anxiety, despair, loneliness, dread, fear, and hopelessness. So man must have an alternate meaning to live for, a reason for being that is Godless but necessarily courageous. So man tends to get creative and build. Societies, infrastructure, and development begin. Man is in control of his own fate. Man creates meaning for his being.

About the middle of the last century, the existentialist movement of Western philosophy was flourishing. Thinkers such as Nietzsche, Jon Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and others courageously led the dreadful charge into the realms of death, nothingness, and absurdity. Man’s existence was wrought with tragedy, purposelessness, and hopelessness because man is alone in the universe and there is nothing else like him in it. But out of this nothingness and lostness, man creates something and goes somewhere. Existential hope emerges. There can be courage to live another day. Perhaps, in another blog more existentialist points of view can be developed.

While some of this train of thought eventually morphed and declined away into other philosophical genres during the latter part of the century, much remains at the heart of our current cultural milieu. Now, interestingly, the writings of Paul Tillich, a notable theologian during the 1950’s who responded to the governing voices of humanist existential thinkers, influenced President Obama. Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, is undergirded by the courage-to-be that Tillich resolutely declares is necessary for hopelessness. Hope without courage is unsavory and useless.

But more importantly, and I think Obama knows this, hope without truth is dangerous. Although it can lead to powerful optimism, when tried repeatedly, it will fatigue. Hope needs substance beyond the subject – a transcendent reality in which hope is grounded.

For the soul who rejects Jesus after truths are provided, it is clear that truth is more audacious than Obama’s audacious hope. In response to this existential rejection, Francis Schaeffer contended that “Man cannot make his own universe and then live in it.” There is a house bigger and better than the fort in the backyard. The audacious truth is: a habited un-lonely mansion awaits us post-death.

Overall, in terms of academic philosophy, existentialism has been tried and found wanting. Most of academia does not interact with it. But how existentialism was so and is still so courageously embraced (sometimes unknowingly) by many average persons and great thinkers alike fascinates me. And this is the point – even secular thinkers displayed great courage to think well and advance their humanist thought, even if that thought has to do with hope in spite of nothingness and creating one’s own existential meaning in the universe.

Unfortunately, Christian courage-to-be and think cogently about Christianity is what I find sadly missing from most Western Christians. As so many Christian young people lose their faith due to questions that seem to have no answers, I stagger in disbelief and shake my head in frustration.

Moreover, the pervasive decline in general intellectualism by many adult believers is just as surprising. Christians struggle to have any courage-to-be smart in a world pluralized with strange existentialist meanings & worldviews. This is a heartbreaking reality of our present church. Why do most Christians not even know what apologetics is? And where is the Christian courage to advance our hope? For the most part, courage just is appallingly lacking in many Christians. Courage to share one’s faith with a non-believer, courage to face one’s family of origin issues with a professional counselor, or courage to learn some apologetic type truth and exercise those brain muscles is at best dormant in many believers.

But the Bible is full of heroes who lived lives with courage. There were many heroes like Moses, David, Gideon, Daniel, Nehemiah, & Paul who experienced and exhibited the power and the boldness of the Holy Spirit. But more importantly, they were not just action heroes, they were people of fortitude and being. They were heroes “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed.” (Romans 4:18) These heroes had what Paul Tillich called the “courage-to-be.” This is a type of courage that is rooted in a reasoned filled faith which allowed them to look into the face of the anxiety and despair to find God’s purpose. It came from “being” in-spite of “non-being” –living in spite of death. The courage I am advocating is that which attacks on offense in spite of life’s failures and fears.

I’m reminded of playing quarterback in high school. Because my team was small in numbers, I had to play both offense and defense. Also, because my school had a small student body, in both numbers and size, my offensive line could only amount to an average 5’-5” tall 200 lb each. So needless to say, due to the onslaught of the defense, I scrambled and was sacked often. It forced me to learn the hard way how to have poise in the pocket and see down field to complete a pass when several hungry linebackers wanted to eat a quarterback sandwich. This is the kind of courage-to-be that Tillich is talking about. It’s the ability to look the world of despair straight in the eye and in spite of it, still be.

When thinking about the dread, despair, and loneliness that Sarte, Camus, and others wrote of, the competitiveness in me is fired up. If they can find a way to achieve meaning and hope, we ought to be able to do it and do it better. It is the Christian who has a better hope in the midst of hopelessness and has a better courage in the midst of fear, dread, and anxiety. “Where O death where is your victory?” Where O death where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55 & Hosea 13:14)

The striking, blinding, and deafening hope of a Christian is that Jesus is the hero of existentialism. He accounted for the anxiety, fear, and despair of the abyss. “He is not a refuge from reality, but a way into its depths.” (Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child) “Death has been swallowed up in Victory?” (1 Cor 15:54) Jesus did as it was prophesied, “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25:8) Deep in the heart of man’s lostness and loneliness, Jesus appears.

The courage we need to face the demands of our intellectual drought & the dread of our own existential journey is not elated passion or desperate clinging to Jesus during a trial or tribulation. It’s not the highs that come from an intense worship song or a spiritual retreat. This courage is the existential aliveness, awakening, and awareness of the present risenness of Jesus. Courage that is grounded in His presence and His rock solid systematic theological belief system of truths continually built – plateau over plateau by the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, in terms of our need for rediscovering Christian intellectualism, it is not dull or passive. The insightful Brennan Manning states that “In this decade of much empty religious talk and proliferating Bible studies, idle intellectual curiosity, and pretensions of importance, intelligence without courage is bankrupt. The truth of faith has little value when it is not also the life of the heart.” This truth really needs a courageous heart. This is the intelligence that pursues truth for one’s own meaning sake, which is a worthy task, as Jesus says, “The truth shall set you free.”

Lastly, Christians must be thinkers who stand firm with courage emerging from the inside out. Francis Schaeffer further responded to this cultural drama saying “If it is true that evil is evil, that God hates it to the point of the cross and that there is a moral law fixed in what God is in Himself, then Christians should be the first into the field against what is wrong – including man’s inhumanity to man.” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” These are strong words, but we can do it Paul, maybe one day as you did, when you literally did face death for your beliefs. We can have the courage to “fight the good fight” and “contend for the faith” even in spite of fear, anxiety, and despair.

By remaining true to Truth and advancing with such courage, the better Hope will last unto death.

____________________

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733 everettehatcher@gmail.com

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