Saturday, February 20, 2010

Movements and Messiahs

The Tea Party movement has gotten a lot of press recently, from being credited for Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts to CNN doing a week-long look into the movement prior to its first "national conference" to the recent article in the New York Times. The biggest questions being asked are will this amount to a third party and/or how much influence will this group have on the Republican Party?

Sounds a lot like what was being asked about the fledgling Christian Coalition thirty years ago. Like the Tea Party, the Christian Coalition was initially focused on local involvement from people with little or no prior involvement in politics (at the time conservative Christians). Eventually their influence grew to such an extent that they are now blamed for everything wrong with the Republican Party. Egos, internal politics, and the idol-worship of fame eventually led to this movement's downfall.

Another similarity is the lack of unity or homogeneity among the grass-roots supporters. There is no definition of a "Christian voter" that applies to all Christians as Jim Wallis so accurately pointed out in his book, God's Politics, Why the Right Gets it Wrong and Why the Left Doesn't Get It (the subtitle sums this up the best). At the same time, the media has been unable to nail down a universal platform that applies to each Tea Party other than the expected discontent with the current administration. Some want a new party, some want an overhaul of the Republican Party. All want a smaller government, but there is disagreement how. Again, sounds a lot like the "value voter" broad-brush the media tried to invent after the 2000 election.

Tea Party organizers would be wise to study the history of this group as it appears they are going down the same road. We, as Christians, would also be wise to remember our folly with the Christian Coalition and not be enticed by the promise of any political Messiah as there is only one true Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. (2 Timothy 2:4)

Our commanding officer is God, not country nor political party. And our battle is not political but moral and the prizes are not votes but souls. We will never be the salt that Jesus calls us to be as long as we are only striving to score political points.

No comments: