The Boston Tea Party was part of a resistance movement within the American colonies against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act because they believed that it violated their right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives. In short, it was as more a movement against a perceived tyranny than as any exercise of budding nationalism.
The American Revolution began before any hostilities with Britain. It began in the hearts and minds of the colonists primarily as a result of what is now called the “Great Awakening.” This movement was, in fact, a spiritual revival which began in the churches but carried over to every day life. People were reading Thomas Paine and John Locke. A realization came about that God intended all people to live free of tyranny. The political understanding stemming from this awakening culminated in the words of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Now we may be experiencing another awakening within our nation, though it appears that this awakening is not confined to America. However, certain self-appointed experts are calling this movement “unchristian” and “nationalistic.” To be sure, this movement did not come out of the churches in American. It did not come out of any political organization either, though a few people have tried to coop it for their own purposes. The movement has come about despite the apathy of our political system and the machinations of the ruling class. Sadly, many of our church leaders have sat idly by and watched the decay of our moral values and cherished system of government.
If we may look at the message this movement with a modicum of common sense and without undue prejudice it is quite easy to see that people are rising up once more against tyranny. Tyranny is the enemy of freedom and liberty. An expanding governmental power always threatens the rights of the people. This is not just happening in America but around the world. In the past, America has encouraged other nations to be free and to follow its example. For this reason, let us rule out nationalism, a notion that the enemy of freedom and of God so easily sows into the fertile minds of those consumed with the spirit of Jonah.
If this movement is a revival, then it doesn’t appear to be like any other. There are those who study past revivals to understand what the formula might be for inducing the next one. Perhaps God does not respond to formulas. Maybe He resists being manipulated. Are not such manipulations a form of “witchcraft” at best?
We must judge any revival on the transformation that it brings to a society. Jesus said:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Is this contemporary “tea party” movement more about life or more about death? We shall see. Jesus said that by “their fruits” you shall know the false prophets from those who speak His Word. Even genuine revival movements in the past have become corrupted over time. We should be praying for and encouraging genuine revival rather than championing and extending the legalistic intimidation of the Pharisees. Perhaps we should heed the wisdom of Gamaliel:
“Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)