James Dobson cannot speak for me. Before God, as we all are, he may only speak for himself. If one thing could be clear about our relationship with God as a Father, it should be that he loves us as individuals, and he judges us as individuals. When Dr. James Dobson accuses Senator Obama of distorting “the traditional understanding of the Bible,” he is actually talking about his own personal “world view,” and his own “confused theology”— as a single creature before the Creator.
There may be many thousands of other individuals who identify themselves as “members of his flock,” individual Christians who are perfectly willing to compromise the sovereignty of their own personalities by accepting James Dobson’s personal religious experience as their’s, too.
Until the human race progresses to the level of a higher and more general recognition of the realities of spiritual experience, large numbers of men and women will continue to show a personal preference for those religions of authority which require only intellectual assent, in contrast to the religion of the spirit, which entails active participation of mind and soul in the faith adventure of grappling with the rigorous realities of progressive human experience.
The acceptance of the traditional religions of authority presents the easy way out for man’s urge to seek satisfaction for the longings of his spiritual nature. The settled, crystallized, and established religions of authority afford a ready refuge to which the distracted and distraught soul of man may flee when harassed by fear and tormented by uncertainty. Such a religion requires of its devotees, as the price to be paid for its satisfactions and assurances, only a passive and purely intellectual assent.
— The Urantia Book
Religionists like James Dobson rely on their personal interpretation of supposed inerrancy of scripture as the arbiter of God’s word of perfect, infallible, unchanging, truth. If he’s honest about it, he might also claim that he knows this is true in his soul. But as such, it is a personal experience that only he can verify. It is just such a personal and unique experience for which he now criticizes Barack Obama.
Regarding his own personal religious experience, Obama has written:
It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn’t fall out in church. The questions I had didn’t magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.
Every child of the Creator has such a relationship with God, whether or not they take advantage of it in this life in the flesh.
That’s why religionists who recognize that truth must be lived out, not merely traditionalized, dogmatized, and institutionalized, will always disagree with religionists like Dobson. True religion carries over from one age to another the worth-while culture and that wisdom which is born of the experience of knowing God and striving to be like him. It has never been proven that God’s desire is that those who believe in him should become dogmatized and standardized in their beliefs, or should submit their wills to the religious interpretations of even good men. Jesus repeatedly warned his apostles against the formulation of creeds and the establishment of traditions as a means of controlling believers. Christians like Dobson err when they devote their lives to doing just that.
“. . .to say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognize some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of “thou” and not just “I,” resonates in religious congregations all across the country. And we might realize that we have the ability to reach out to the evangelical community and engage millions of religious Americans in the larger project of American renewal.”
It is a fact that religion does not grow unless it is disciplined by constructive criticism, amplified by philosophy, purified by science, and nourished by loyal fellowship. —The Urantia Book