Friday, October 13, 2006

Christian Tribalism III: Illustrated

Proof is in the Pudding

We find some tribalism in the state. The state obviously manifests this infestation through the increase of special interest groups, compartmentalized bureaucracy, and fragmented visions of unity amongst the political parties (conservative Republicans, Reagan Republicans, Rhinos, neocons, etc.). Parties preach to the choir or yell at each other. There is no true dialogue. Our American system was purposefully built to be institutionally fragmented (three branches of government, bicameral legislation, etc.), but with the understanding of a common ideological underpinning. The former still exists, yet the latter exists is quickly fading. The center will eventually collapse with tyranny or anarchy as the result.

We find tribalism in the family. Whenever a family is suspicious of other families because they are not quite in line with their approach to life—whether in thought, word or deed—it may be tribal infestation. Whenever a family moves from church to church because they are “uncomfortable” with this or that of the church, it may be nomadic tribalism. Whenever a family teaches it own—verbally or non-verbally—that they themselves are virtually self-sufficient from other individuals, families or churches (even of society as a whole), it may be tribalistic egotism. It becomes family against family. A form of shunning may arise or gossip may be perpetuated to further reinforce group-think. They withdraw into themselves and only associate with those of the same core convictions—convictions not intrinsic to the Gospel of Christ. Rather, they are convictions rooted in legalistic shibboleths and antinomian idiosyncrasies. Eventually, it may mutate into a home-church: spurring any and all ecclesiastical bodies save itself.

We find tribalism in the church. Doctrinally (ideologically), people—even officers—have variations of beliefs and depending how tight they hold these beliefs they may be susceptible to tribalism. Differences usually do not surface until there are practical consequences. And differences usually begin in teaching hobby-horses and magnifying secondary and tertiary doctrines and practices. Communication between other churches is minimal because suspicion already exists, begetting less communication. Such emphases create homogenous churches (witness the church-growth movement). Does a church isolate itself collectively and familialy from other sister-churches? Does it not participate in other church's activities? Does a church unduly emphasize a person or position? Does a church preach unique views that result in pride and segregation? Does a church remain ignorant of its identity and relationship with others? If so, then there may be a bad version of tribalism afoot.

[Next: Remedy]

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