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Does President Obama need to ‘wear’ God?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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President Barack Obama speaks during the first presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver (Credit: AP / David Goldman)

A poll just released shows Mitt Romney ahead of President Obama, 49 percent to 47 percent.  This poll is significant since it is the first survey based entirely on interviews conducted after last Wednesday’s presidential debate.  The polling firm states, however, that “it remains to be seen whether (the bounce) is a temporary blip or signals a lasting change in the race.”  It also notes that “incumbent presidents often struggle in the first debate and do better in the second.”

What should the president do at the debate scheduled for a week from Tuesday?  The Washington Post‘s Sally Quinn has some advice: he needs to “wear God.”  In her view, Gov. Romney’s references to the Lord won him support from those who believe in God; President Obama’s lack of references to God hurt him.  As he wore the American flag on his lapel, so he needs to “wear God.”

I disagree.

Mr. Obama has spoken about his faith throughout his presidency; most who remain skeptical will likely not vote for him no matter how many times he speaks of God in the debates.  Conversely, those who believe that he is the best person to lead our economic recovery and global engagements will vote for him whether he refers to God in the debates or not.

Quinn thinks that Mr. Obama “captured the flag” in the debate by wearing one on his lapel, and that he can “capture God” by mentioning him a few times.  But isn’t “wearing God” oxymoronic?  If he is truly God, can anyone “wear” him?  Can we own the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16), the One who spoke the universe into being (Genesis 1:3) and measures it with the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12)?

But we try.  We go to church on Sunday so God will bless us on Monday.  We start our day with Bible study and prayer so God will bless our day.  We give money to the church so God will bless our money.  Few of us choose such transactional religion consciously—it’s the spiritual DNA of our culture, the way Western civilization has related to God for centuries.

However, the King will not share his throne.  He will not be reduced to a lapel pin or a political sound bite.  When King Nebuchadnezzar took the credit and glory for what God had done, he lost his throne and his sanity (Daniel 4:29-33).  When he honored and glorified the Lord, both were restored (vs. 34-36).  He testified, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.  And those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (v. 37).

Does our country agree?  Do you?