While the press focused on Obama's explanation of how religion and liberal politics co-exist, and his claim that right wing Christians "hijacked" the faith, there's one very interesting and overlooked aspect of Obama's speech.
He told his story.
As an evangelical in the UCC for over ten years, I've sadly never heard anyone at a United Church of Christ meeting present the Gospel message and call for a response. Somehow, it's just assumed that everyone is OK with God.
But there before 8,000+ UCC people, Barack Obama was testifying how he found life in Jesus!
[People] want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives... And this restlessness – this search for meaning – is familiar to me...Golly, was there an altar call afterwards? Did a revival break out?
And slowly, I came to realize that something was missing as well – that without an anchor for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart, and alone.
So one Sunday, I put on one of the few clean jackets I had, and went over to Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street on the South Side of Chicago. And I heard Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright deliver a sermon called "The Audacity of Hope." And during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, He would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in Him. And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.
Those familiar with the DNA of liberal mainline denominations know that you never hear anyone testify how they had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that resulted in saving faith. That's just something you don't do.
So on that level alone, Obama's speech was pretty amazing.
Some question the genuineness of Obama's conversion, due to his liberal politics. On his politics, I highly disagree.
But in regards to his relationship with Jesus, I'll take him at his word and let God do the judging, knowing that He knows the heart best and is the master fruit inspector.