More than ever, it became apparent to me after watching McCain’s speech last night, that perhaps what is at issue in this election is not the “what” of American politics, but the “who.” People are not hungry for a full course meal on the issues as much as they are enamored with the menu. The message on the part of both party rallies is not what can be changed as much as who is the right person to supposedly implement change.
Churches with charismatic leaders apparently grow faster than those who may offer more substance, beliefs, and discipleship. Sports teams are often driven by charismatic superstars. Businesses that get the most press and see their stocks soar are usually the ones with the most charismatic CEO. The same is true in politics. Now it’s true that Bush is not very charismatic, but when he won a second term, look who he was running against, probably the most un-charismatic person the democrats could have picked.
In religion, it may also be true that it is the “who” not the “what” that propels people to faith whether you agree with their faith-practice or not. Cults are a prime example of this. In the Christian arena, people are invited to believe in the Christ, the Savior not so much the mission or message of the Christ, that comes afterwards. In the OT it was Yahweh people were compelled to adopt, not his system of rules first, but God first.
We talk about mentors, best friends, heroes, idols, and role models. They all have some form of lifestyle or principles they live by, but it is not so much those principles as the person that attracts us and then draws us to their beliefs.
I suspect we all know people disappoint. No one is perfect, doing everything right all the time. Rhetoric is good, however substance is what must move people in the ranks of the “followers.” The months ahead will show us how that all plays out in politics. However, the centuries past have shown us how that has played out in Religion.
If God is the ONLY God and Christ is the ONLY way to GOD, then the who becomes paramount. However, having adopted the who, the what now plays a critical role in both justifying and verifying the belief in the who. They cannot be seperated. IF you believe in the who, THEN you must subscribe to the what. One cannot be divorced from the other. And, I might add, the what is no buffet where we pick and choose that which seems right to us, the what is what is right supremely for all cultures in all generations. Now that is the sticky wicket.