on movements

From a discussion in the Jesus Radicals forum (referring to the current Jesus for President book tour, featured on CNN the day before yesterday)...

Andy wrote:
...That is why I say Shane [Claibourne] is a very different breed than [Jim] Wallis and such. They are simply trying to do some reaching out, through the evangelical medium... (Not that those of us on the "radical" end have our stuff together...but come on...there is a difference, and difference is the basis of witness.) So I think Paul, I would make some distinctions there. You might be right though about the whole "movement" thing.

What do you mean by "movement" though, if you don't mind saying?

Yes, I guess our perception of "difference" all depends on what's most important to us, and whether there is a noticeable difference in that area of concern. From many perspectives there appears an obvious difference between the Democratic and Republican platforms, but for those concerned about the coercive use of wealth and political power, they don't seem much different.

One of my main concerns is our dependence on human social power, the power of the multitude, "We, the People," rather than on God's power. This is the idolatry of Babel, which God struck down and scattered its people. It is the temptation of "together we are strong." It is the lure of political might. And it is what is so enticing about gathering a "movement."

Jesus drew crowds, due to his miracles. But he avoided using the power of those crowds, he would not let them make him king, and he spoke the hard and perfect truth to them even when that meant that many of his followers (even his closest friends) would leave or betray him. See John 6 for a good example of this. He had no use for the power of a movement. He was not proclaiming that "together we are strong and can change the world." Jesus proclaimed only God's power to deliver us from bondage, we who are helpless to save ourselves. And the way he proclaimed that was in human weakness, without the power of the multitude, their money or their political might. His rejection of these put him on the cross.

Shane has repeatedly spoken of "doing small things with great love" and letting God make great good of it. That's a good message. But like with the other popular Christian leaders, a different message comes through when we think it is necessary to choose wealthy and powerful corporations (and skirt around touchy political topics, like voting) to "get our message out there" and attract lots of people to our movement. Making use of such human powers of money and mass organization simply reinforces the worldly message that these are the powers we depend on to make the world a better place. God is not glorified; We, the People are glorified.

A good sign that our message has been compromised for the sake of gathering social power is when we become attractive to big powers (like Zondervan). They know what sells and they want that. Jesus got crucified for his speaking and living of the gospel. How can we think we're proclaiming the same gospel when we're getting interviews on national radio, covers of magazines, and multiple book deals for what we're speaking and living?