In Brian McLaren’s new book, several times he offers the image of ‘the tribe’ or a tribal society in referring to questions about God or the Bible. Rob Bell in his timely and enlightening ‘The God’s Aren’t Angry‘ speaks of humanity’s understanding of God from a tribal perspective. In his review of ‘A New Kind of Christianity,’ Andrew Perriman speaks about a panel discussion about the book held at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and, once again, the idea of tribal identity surfaces:
The tribal part has to do with the limits we perceive that we are not willing to cross. I might be highly creative, intellectual, etc. but I might remain so entrenched within a certain religious or ideological tribe that I simply focus my personality on defending that tribe.
I found the So. Baptist Theological Seminary panel discussion particularly fascinating in that sense. It seemed liked the leaders of a tribe were reacting to a perceived threat. How else can one explain the oddness of these academics taking up their intellectual arms in a public forum for no other apparent purpose than to preach to the choir before them?
It was fascinating but also very sad. I wondered what percentage of the audience had read your book, or ever would after such an indoctrination. Yet they gladly cheered on those academic gladiators in that one-sided arena.
Tribal ‘elders,’ leaders, speaking to the tribe about what is happening in another tribe and the threats this poses. This is a strange but interesting take on Evangelical Christianity, and one with which I tend to agree. Whether I intend or not, I am part of a tribe that shares a common story (or common interpretation of that story), a common cause, a common deity, a common ground (home). And while I wish all tribes could agree, that won’t necessarily happen. But we still share the same space and live under the same sky, worshipping the same God.
That’s a good start.
P.S. I’d like to take this tribal idea further and explore it. Keep watching this space…