Obama Responds to Attack from James Dobson

Barack Obama has responded to the attack from James Dobson on his radio show yesterday. Dobson was criticizing a 2006 speech which I quoted from here and posted the video of here. AP reports:

Speaking to reporters on his campaign plane before landing in Los Angeles, Obama said the speech made the argument that people of faith, like himself, “try to translate some of our concerns in a universal language so that we can have an open and vigorous debate rather than having religion divide us.”

Obama added, “I think you’ll see that he was just making stuff up, maybe for his own purposes.”

Making stuff up? Yes, Dobson is known to do that, as I’ve pointed out here and here.

While I have concentrated on the political aspects of their differences in applying religious beliefs to public policy, Steve Benen also points out how Dobson has also been wrong on theological grounds:

Dobson believes in a literal interpretation of every word in the Christian Bible. Obama, in his ‘06 speech, pointed to specific passages from the Christian Bible. As such, as far as Dobson is concerned, Obama was “distorting” the “traditional understanding” of the Bible? Something doesn’t add up here — if every word of Scripture is literally true, how can anyone distort the Bible by pointing to specific passages?

“Traditional understanding” sounds like some kind of liberal, mamby-pamby, after-the-fact interpretation of the Bible’s plain text, when Dobson is supposed to be, to borrow an expression, a strict constructionist.

Indeed, there’s a bunch of great examples from the Old Testament. Parents can stone a misbehaving child; fathers can sell daughters into slavery; garments made of two different kinds of threads are a real no-no; the list goes on and on. Dobson, on the one hand, believes every word of the Bible is literally true. Dobson, on the other hand, also argues we shouldn’t believe every word of the Bible is literally true but should instead accept a “traditional understanding” of the Bible. To do otherwise, is to “distort” Scripture.

Ultimately, Dobson apparently wants the focus to remain on the New Testament. Note to Dr. Jim: Christians are supposed to embrace both Testaments.


  1. 1
    Raffi Shahinian says:

    Great post. For more of a blow-by-blow account of the great Obama/Dobson slugfest, with a modern-day parable to maybe put it all in perpective (maybe),  here’s my take on the issue, for anyone who might be interested.

    Grace and Peace,
    Raffi Shahinian

  2. 2
    Savvy says:

    The distortion of scripture by Obama and subsequent analysis are typical of those who are not particularly familiar with the scriptures.  Understanding that God is unchanging , that there are through-lines of consistency in the way God interacts with mankind over time AND likewise, there are differences aides in understanding the scriptures. 

    For instance, in the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve could eat freely of all the trees in the garden except one.  God told them that in the day they eat of that one tree, they would surely die (spiritual death is separation from God … and physical death was instituted, too.  A sad day for mankind.)

    God’s instruction to Adam and Eve, in innocence, is not applicable to us today … we are not in innocence, but inherited a sin nature from Adam and Eve, we’ve each individually sinned by our own choice, there is no Garden of Eden or fruit of a tree we are commanded not to eat.

    Trying to reach God by following His command to Adam and Eve makes no sense.  We need to approach God based upon faith in the provision God provided to cover our sin … God redeemed us (like a coupon) … He bought us back from the power of death and sin and hell.  We access that provision through faith … and by His grace, he saves us from the penalty of our wrong doing.  We live under the provision of His grace to us.

    Some things that remain constant thoughout the ages … God is unchanged, God provides a way man can know God, man fails in every era, God provides provision for man’s failure through His Son … either looking forward, or looking back … Jesus Christ is the central figure of time.

  3. 3
    Savvy says:

    Hi Raffi,

    Aside:  Just noticed your last name … Shahinian.  Are you of Armenian descent?  So am I.   My last name ends in -ian, as well!

    Take care!

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    Not everyone agrees that there is one answer as you do. Many believe that it is Dobson who is on weak ground theologically and Obama got it right.

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