Many believe the current campaign for president of the United States is the most vitriolic and polarized in the history of this country.
And the question often asked from both sides of the aisle is: why? How did it come to this?
“I am convinced the reason so many people on both sides are so polarized is because both sides, ironically, have something fundamental in common,” said the Rev. Michael Hudson, senior pastor of Christ Venice church and the author of “Good News: The Campaign for a Partisan World.”
“Both sides are looking for a leader who will provide peace, security, justice, and prosperity,” he said. “In short, everyone is looking for a savior. And political campaigns promise them one.”
From William McKinnley’s 1896 campaign slogan of “Patriotism, Protection and Prosperity,” and Warren Harding’s 1920 promise to “Return us to Normalcy,” to Barack Obama’s pledge of “Hope” and “Change We Can Believe In,” presidents and political parties promise us what we want and need.
In the end, however, trusting in politicians is nothing more than good old-fashioned idolatry, Hudson said.
“Has any politician ever been able to deliver on their campaign slogan? These promises and politicians will always leave us empty, frustrated, angry and unfulfilled, especially when they lose an election. You would think we would have learned that lesson by now.”
Hudson said he wrote his book to give hope to everyone who finds himself or herself shouting back at the television set whenever pundits are talking.
“They need to know there is a candidate who has run for the highest office that is worthy of our trust and has provided solutions for the issues we face today.”
His book is based on the Gospel of Mark and looks at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ in the context of a political campaign.
“Mark’s Gospel has everything you need for a high-stakes contest. It has a reform candidate, primaries, slogans, campaign rallies in different towns, grassroots support, campaign promises, a party platform, opposition from the establishment, debates, false accusations, bribes, election eve sabotage and, of course, a vote.”
Hudson said that while it seems like we are in the midst of an election cycle like no other in modern history, there are clearly parallels between what we are experiencing today and what existed in the time of Jesus.
“We tend to think Jesus was just about a spiritual kingdom and that religion and politics should be kept separate. But everything that happened in the Gospel of Mark happened in a political context. People then and now desire hope and change. Two thousand years ago, Mark’s people wanted to see their country made great again and they were looking for someone, a Messiah, to do it. Sound familiar?
“It is sad that everything today, from the most basic building blocks of society like marriage, to sports and even the weather, has become politicized,” Hudson added. “I think this is because we have two value systems or worldviews competing for the hearts of people. There is the Judeo-Christian worldview and the secular humanistic worldview. As a nation, we used to put our trust in our Creator for hope, happiness, significance, and security. Now, we are putting our trust in created things like politicians, political parties, governments and experts to solve our problems. These two value systems are incompatible. It is what got Jesus in so much trouble. The trend of removing God from the life of the nation can be reversed. It is called revival and I pray for it every day.”
Hudson said what he hopes people take away from his book is the understanding that no matter who wins the upcoming election, God has installed His King on the throne of the universe and that He is bringing that kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven.