Reviewed by Heather R.
Saving America by Jonathan Wakefield
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"Wakefield makes a solid case that irresponsible stewardship of public money and public trust, government indebtedness, and the illegality of unconstitutional actions are indeed moral issues that need to be challenged by We the People, and most specifically, We the Christians, of our nation."
When the editors contacted me about reviewing Saving America: A Christian Perspective on the Tea Party Movement by Jonathan Wakefield, I immediately accepted. Why? Because I may be uniquely qualified to review this book since I was a frequent TitleTrakk reviewer until the 2009 emergence of the tea party at which time I left regular reviewing to lead a local tea party.
What TitleTrakk readers might not know is that there are many Christians involved in the Tea Party movement, even though the Tea Party does not overtly address social issues, to which some Christians today limit their political involvement. With his book, Wakefield provides a powerful and effective outreach to Christians by explaining how the principles of the tea party are compatible with the view of government's role as seen in the Bible.
Full disclosure: I agree with Wakefield that the issues the Tea Party advocates are inherently moral issues. As a leader of the Richmond (Virginia) Tea Party, Wakefield organizes his book around their group's five principles:
1. Constitutional adherence
2. Limited government (national tea party groups often combine these first two as "constitutionally limited government")
3. Fiscal responsibility, i.e., reigning in the government's immoral spending that creates crippling budget deficits and immoral national debt levels
4. Free markets, i.e., allowing the free market to determine winners and losers and not government cronies who get special dispensations of our tax dollars as rewards for political loyalty
5. Virtue and accountability, for the government and for the people (national groups don't always include the fifth principle)
The first four principles each receive their own chapter in Wakefield's book, and the last principle receives two chapters to cover accountability for the government and for the people separately. Virtue and accountability is one of the areas where Christians can make a difference in turning our country around. Indeed, the reason the Founders created a limited government is that they were counting on faith communities to take care of their families and neighbors in response to the Judeo-Christian ethics taught in churches and synagogues across the nation. For more than a century this was how it worked.
But around the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries, this balance from God to (G)overnment began to shift such that at the turn of the twentieth to the twenty-first centuries, (G)overnment has grown to idolatrous proportions. Wakefield refers to Big Government variously as the golden calf and as an idol that Satan can use to lead people away from God.
Throughout the book's well-organized 12 chapters, Wakefield relates Biblical stories to the situations in our country today, but the biggest pitch comes in Chapter Twelve: "Judgment and Renewal." He argues that we have a chance for a reprieve from God's judgment, as the Israelites had under King Josiah when the King found and read the Book of the Law and the people responded. Or not, if we as Christians, don't bring people back to the virtues of God's Word and not the vices of a government run amuck.
This also requires the Tea Party's goal of bringing Americans back to the principles of the U.S. Constitution, which limits government so that God's Word can rule our lives. Or not, as individuals choose under their God-given right to freedom of religion as articulated in the first amendment. Just as God gave us free choice whether to follow Him.
Remember Abram's advocacy before God on behalf of Sodom (Genesis 18). Christians today need to advocate before God on behalf of our nation. There are two approaches to this task:
1. Step up direct evangelism.
2. Get involved in the Tea Party movement to stop the government from becoming the idolatrous god of the United States.
These two approaches are not mutually exclusive; they can work hand in hand. For example, the Tea Party can be a vehicle to restore our God-given freedoms against the Satanic idol of Big Government to whom we look for material needs (in contrast to Matthew 6). By reigning in the government, the Tea Party provides an opening to share with citizens the gospel that Jesus is our King and we don't need the earthly government to provide any more than the Bible outlines for it, i.e., to punish wrongdoers and protect the righteous (Romans 13.)
Remember the Israelites wanted an earthly king (1 Samuel 8) when they already had a King, God Himself. The United States is going down the same road as the ancient Israelites because Christians have ceased to be salt and light in our nation.
Christians can choose which front of the battle (Ephesians 6) to emphasize (evangelism and/or Tea Party), but by all means, engage! Wakefield encourages and exhorts Christians throughout the text but most specifically in a chapter called, well, "Engage!"
I recommend Saving America for Christians who may be standoffish to the Tea Party. Wakefield makes a solid case that irresponsible stewardship of public money and public trust, government indebtedness, and the illegality of unconstitutional actions are indeed moral issues that need to be challenged by We the People, and most specifically, We the Christians, of our nation.Heather R. Hunt is a business editor in Connecticut. For fun she reads, writes, cheers on the Red Sox, and enjoys tennis and cycling. She also co-leads a local tea party and enjoys holding government officials and media outlets accountable. Check out her blogs, The View from Stonewater and Connecticut for Sarah Palin.