Seventy-four year old Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan has joined the chorus of those who speak of Obama in messianic terms. Farrakhan did not specifically endorse Obama but in a rambling address in front of over 20,000 people, oddly enough in celebration of "Saviour"s Day," he called Obama, "the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better."
He also compared Obama to Fard Muhammad saying, "A black man with a white mother became a savior to us. A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall." Farrakhan's comments come just one week after Hollywood icon Halle Berry, speaking of Obama said she would, "Do whatever he says do." She continued, "I'll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear."
And it isn't just the privileged and powerful that are measuring Obama for a celestial throne. If you Google Obama's name you will find a plethora of websites that range from questioning the possibility of his messiahship to outright pronouncements that he is a saviour. One site (obamamessiah.blogspot.com) even offers pictures of Obama that appear to show light emanating from his very presence. ABC Nightline Correspondent David Wright said of an Obama rally, "Politics doesn't even begin to describe it. A visit to an Obama rally is a pilgrimage." This sounds more like an addled teenage response to a rock star than a serious appraisal by a respected journalist.
How can we explain the unrestrained adulation that borders on blasphemy? How in the world did a second rate political campaign evolve into a search for a saviour? It begins with a postmodern jettison of absolute truth and ends with an immorality-induced skepticism of all things political. No matter which side of the aisle you choose to plant your flag you can't help but realize Washington doesn't work. When lawmakers spend more time interrogating future Hall of Fame baseball players than hammering out important legislation (the Protect America Act) that would protect American lives, people become disillusioned. When lawmakers cater to the whims of the rich and powerful by allowing their lobbyists to wine and dine them while they appear to ignore the needs of everyday citizens people become angry. When Congress passes laws loaded with earmark spending designed to build bridges to nowhere and every other pork barrel project you can think of people give up. They just plain lose hope that meaningful change is even possible.
Along comes a young, charismatic figure that captures the imagination. He speaks in vague generalities that inspire rather than inform. He perfectly fits the mold of American culture in the early part of the 21st century. Generations of Americans have had their senses numbed by an education system that long ago ceased to challenge them to think for themselves. The foundation of postmodern thought is the story. We live in an Oprahized world where a good story trumps logical, coherent thought every time and twice on Sunday. When our minds are dulled from the consumption of empty ideas and our spirits are crushed by the weight of meaninglessness in culture we become like the demon possessed man who was made clean but left void of the presence of God. He became open to possession by a whole host of new evil spirits.
Enter Barack Obama, whose campaign becomes the story. Here is a guy who realizes he doesn't have to be specific about the details of his plan to lead America. He doesn't have to give the media or his political adversaries a target. In fact, he forces his critics to make him the object of their scorn, which simply draws more disciples into his camp.
If the background of all of this messianic rhetoric we hear the warning of Christ from the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) echoing through the ages, "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying I am the Messiah and they will deceive many." Whether or not Barack Obama intends to present himself as a messiah he is at least guilty of refusing to deny the title.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.