Is Barack Obama a Christian? Well, if you’re inclined to agree with Joel Osteen the answer is, apparently, yes. However, if you feel that language has meaning apart from pop culture colloquialisms, you may arrive at a different conclusion.
The word Christian was first coined by the pagans at Antioch (Acts 11:26; 26:28). At its inception, the word was a descriptor, a word that denoted an objective set of facts about a person. To call someone a Christian, until fairly recently, meant that the person possessed a firm conviction regarding a defined set of doctrines. A Christian is, fundamentally, one who makes a claim to follow Christ and, therefore, subscribes to certain basic truths. This commonality of truths has been termed “mere” Christianity; they are objective and exclusive truths.
As C.S. Lewis so artfully put it in Mere Christianity, “When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s attitude to that object.”
Today, Christian has ceased to be a term of description. Calling someone a Christian, in common parlance, is the equivalent of saying, “hey, that dude is a really nice guy.” It is meaningless. Not ironically, Osteen is the high priest of the disembodied platitude. His sermons float like a host of wondering specters, having been vivisected from the living corpus of Biblical doctrine. His cavernous church is like a gaping mouth, gumming wetly at spiritual mist, spun from the form of truth but butchered of its meaty substance. Osteen carefully carves the substance of sin, hell, repentance, and a host of other essential Christian doctrines from the bone and body of Divine Revelation. He offers a desiccated and shambling form of Christianity that crumbles to dust beneath the weighted majesty of the historical appellation. In his view, a person is a Christian if they simply acknowledge the fact that Christ is the risen Son of God. However, the devils believe and acknowledge the same, ”What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?”(Mark 5:7)