• Did the Republicans make a heroic stand as in the Alamo, or a poorly planned and executed assault like Little Big Horn, which was led by a general who failed to calculate the risks, who ignored the scouting reports of the strength of the opposition, and who made assumptions of the battle that proved to not be true. In the Alamo, men fought to the death to protect what was theirs. In Little Big Horn, and last week in Washington, Republicans launched a fight that wasn't the plan of the battle-tested generals, but rather the plan of the newest recruits. Blame the press, blame the establishment, blame the liberals, blame one's own team, was the analysis of those who thought it wise to charge up the hill for a great cause but without following the counsel of Jesus who admonished to "count the cost" before starting a war.

    But liberalism among Republicans isn't destroying the Republican Party. No it's not liberalism. Because compared to the most conservative Democrats, there are no Republican congressional liberals.

    Legalism -- not liberalism is dividing the GOP. Now, I've seen what legalism does to the church.

    Legalism is focusing more on how one expresses belief than what one believes. The liberal might abandon the biblical truth, but the legalist abandons biblical love.

    Legalists make the method equal to the message. The facility of the church becomes a focus equal to the fellowship of the church.

    Legalists fight for an artificial purity that they claim is based upon the "truth," but for them truth is the way they "do church" more than the spirit with which they do it.

    Now, it's an arrogant and prideful self righteousness that focuses on self instead of a humble and broken righteousness that focuses on Christ.

    Legalism fights over the color of choir robes, the tempo of the hymns, and the architecture of the church building. For the Pharisees, purity of faith is based on external behavior. What one does becomes more important than what one is.

    Some people eat their soup louder than others, but it doesn't mean the soup tastes better.

    Political legalism in the Republican Party is declaring that the purity of conservatism is based on following a particular personality or taking a very specific tactical pathway. The Republicans' greatest threat is not from liberals -- it's from legalists in its ranks who would rather raise and spend vast money to defeat another Republican in a primary than to defeat a Democrat. The arrogant and self-righteous indignation of those who elevate themselves to be superior in conservatism because they can cause a train wreck. Now we ought to ask if the purpose is to derail the train, or to turn it around? Derailing the train is easy. Turning one around takes time, patience, perseverance, and planning.

    My political heroes are those like William Wilberforce who spent a lifetime fighting slavery, and Dr. Martin Luther King who died fighting injustice and racism. They understood that politics and change are the result of a process, not just a singular event. They were strong and unyielding in their convictions, but humble, patient and forgiving. They never got all they wanted, but they got more than nothing. And if Republicans really want to defeat the threat of liberalism and socialism, they need to learn that their friends aren't their enemies.