My friends from the Holiness Tradition might say: "I was saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost when I was thirty years old." Testimonies were as an important part of our Evangelical culture as crossing themselves before a meal was to my Roman Catholic friends.
Why is there so much controversy among Christians about the faith of Mr. Obama? There may be several reasons but, in my view, it is not helpful for anyone, but especially for Christians, to suggest he is a Muslim. In fact, it is harmful. Why? it contradicts our long held practice of accepting a person's word about his or her faith and it makes us look like judgmental bigots rather than fruit inspectors.
In an interview with Christianity Today in January 2008, Mr. Obama talked about his belief in Jesus Christ.
“I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful. I didn’t ‘fall out in church’ as they say, but there was a very strong awakening in me of the importance of these issues in my life. I didn’t want to walk alone on this journey. Accepting Jesus Christ in my life has been a powerful guide for my conduct and my values and my ideals.”
This testimony certainly sounds authentic and sincere. I know that some of us do not believe a word of it because we cannot believe any politician. Others disbelieve because they say his policies are contrary to the Christian faith. Others disbelieve because of his biological father's heritage and his childhood.
But conversion is a long tradition with us Evangelicals. Of all groups we need to accept change in a person's life. I disagree with much of Mr. Obama's politics but it is not up to me to judge that he is not a Christian. Why not celebrate it in his life?