In a recent article written in Charisma, a popular magazine targeting Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians, Christian Broadcasting Network correspondent David Brody asserts that the Tea Party Movement may very well be sparking a new Great Awakening in America. Brody points out that while the Tea Party started with a message that was focused more on economic issues and put social issues in the back seat, conservative Christians have been joining the movement in large numbers and strengthening its impact on the nation. This resulted in the birth of the "teavangelical" conservative Christians that are part of the Tea Party or agree with its agenda.
Teavangelicals are moving around the country with a message calling for the nation to return to Judeo-Christian principles and promoting the adoption of economic plans that would ensure a deficit-free future. The article cites remarks from Tea Party Congressman and former Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann: "Well, I absolutely am a Teavangelical because I believe that we are taxed enough already. Government shouldn't spend more money than what it takes in. We should follow the Constitution. And I'm a believer in Jesus Christ, so I think that makes me a Teavangelical." The article points out that at least half of the Tea Party is comprised of conservative Christians. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) was asked why the Tea Party is attracting so many conservative evangelicals. He responded, "I really think a lot of the motivation behind these Tea Party crowds is a spiritual component. I think it's very akin to the Great Awakening before the American Revolution."
Indeed, it is quite premature for anyone to dare compare the modern Tea Party Movement to the Great Awakening that occurred before the American Revolution. However, what if the Tea Party movement is sparking a "spiritual awakening" in America? How would such an awakening compare and contrast to the Great Awakening of the 18th and 19th centuries? What impact could it have in our nation today and would it be for better or for worse?
In comparison to the awakenings of the past, an awakening sparked by the Tea Party would occur simultaneously with the lines of a great political divide that has been shaping for the past half century. The first Great Awakening (1740) began as tensions with Britain were in the infancy of their escalation towards the political unrest that would eventually lead to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Second Great Awakening (1790) began during the dispute between Federalism and Anti-Federalism, and the Third Great Awakening (1850) began at the same time that events were escalating towards an inevitable Civil War. In the elections of this millennium in particular, we have seen how the United States is virtually two nations within one with very unique boundaries practically dividing the red states from the Blue States. While this was more clear in the elections of 2000 and 2004 than in 2008, it is likely that we will see similar results in this year's election with Mitt Romney carrying the Southern and Midwestern states, and Barack Obama carrying the states of the Northeast, the more central region of the North, and the Pacific states.
Whereas the awakenings of the past reached out to disenfranchised groups like slaves and the poor, it is unlikely that an awakening sparked by the Tea Party would ever be able to duplicate such success with the oppressed. This is because the Tea Party for the most part is comprised of the one percent or those who for whatever reason sympathize with the fears of the one percent that their taxes may indeed be raised by a small amount to help pay off the nation's debts while boosting the American economy. Such a modern day awakening would be the first of the post-Christian era. In truth, it would reveal in depth the hypocrisy that now dominates American Christainity. That is a hypocrisy that claims to follow Jesus, but neglects the commands given by Jesus himself in Matthew 25 that "whatsoever you do for the least of these, the same you do for me." It is clear from such a powerful passage that Jesus cared deeply about the social outcasts that the Tea Party Christians are rejecting in favor of curtailing the so-called "oppression" of the rich.
One of the most disturbing stories in the article is the story of a Tea Party leader, Kellen Guida, who received Jesus when witnessed to by others members of the Tea Party during a political retreat. My mind can not help but question which Jesus Guida received, because the Jesus of the Tea Party is not even close to being the Jesus I read about in scripture. While I personally doubt that an awakening sparked by the Tea Party is on the horizon, my heart bleeds for those unsuspecting souls like Guida who are drawn into a movement that claims to stand for equal rights and justice, while attempting to promote a theocratic society that oppresses the least while making the wealthiest seem like the helplessly oppressed targets of a perceived "class warfare." Such a dynamic shift from the Jesus of the scriptures makes it such that an awakening sparked by the Tea Party would be the cheapest imitation we have seen of true religion since Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in scripture.
As an evangelical myself, it is quite embarrasing for me to even identify myself as a Christian anymore because of the joke that fellow brothers and sisters in the faith have turned Christianity into by their decision to join the agenda of the Tea Party. If only they would take the time to open their Bibles and read, they would see clearly that the Jesus of the scriptures is not even near similar to the Jesus that the Tea Party is pushing down their throats.
The First Great Awakening was known as having great success in reaching out to the enslaved African-American community and the Great Awakenings.