I just finished watching the debate and it left me feeling like our country and economy will be safer and better off with Obama at the helm. What caught me off guard about the debate came at the very end in a line McCain gave. While I’ve noted that a number of Christians have pointed out McCain’s constant drawing on a warrior/hero/Maverick narrative to catch the hearts of Americans (a move meant to appeal to the deep ethos of our country’s history), I found it preposterous that he would so unhesitatingly appeal to the messianic:
I guarantee you, as president of the United States, I know how to heal the wounds of war, I know how to deal with our adversaries, and I know how to deal with our friends.
Christians watching could not help but be reminded of the biblical text:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NIV-G/K)
Both candidates have at times wrongfully, in my position as a Christian, appealed to the rhetoric of nationalism at different points and this is an area I think all Christians need to challenge. To put it more strongly, I think Christians are the only ones who can challenge nationalism because we operate out of a fundamentally different loyalty than those who are not Christians. But McCain’s suggestion that he knows how to heal the wounds of war betrays a subtext, a symptom, of the kind of religious role politics plays in our country. This is none other than idolatry, and hopefully Christians will take their loyalty to the Kingdom of God seriously enough to challenge this kind of role-reversal of the messianic. Whoever becomes president is a person with gifts and faults, not the messiah who will do the work of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can heal the deep wounds of war, abortion, racism, hatred, and fear.