Home > Blogging, Church, Faith > The Danger Of Tribalism

The Danger Of Tribalism

My aunt posted the following on my Facebook timeline the other day:

Being a Bluegrass fan, it often comes down to this.  Are you Monroe fan or a Stanley fan.  If you aren’t a Bluegrass fan, then bless your heart.

It doesn’t have to be about that particular musical taste.  It could be The Beatles or Stones.

Or Ford or Chevy.  I’ve really never known anyone that entered that argument pulling for Dodge, Plymouth or Chrysler.

 Maybe it’s DC or Marvel.  Plenty of people, back in the day, would only read one company’s comics.

You can see it in our technology.  PC or Mac.  iPhone or Droid.

Sports?  Let’s not get started.  Of course it’s All Vol.  Unless it isn’t.

Politics?  Democrat versus Republican.  Conservative versus Liberal.

Theology?  Calvinist.  Arminian.  Your denomination.  Their denomination.  Non-denomination.

That’s one of the things I like about a little radio station in Knoxville.  You can turn it on and hear Bluegrass.  Or Classic Country.  Blues.  Americana.  Alt-Country.  Roots Rock.  World Music.  Any number of types of music might be played throughout the day.

However, people still pit this station against the others.  As happens with my favorite local sports radio station.

We tend to form tribes around all these things, going to the point of buying window stickers that show a little boy that looks like Calvin peeing on a Ford insignia.  I guess you can see where I stand.

Paul faced that problem too.  Some folks in Corinth said that they were of Paul.  Others Barnabas.  Still others Apollos.  The super spiritual said they were of Christ.  They formed little tribes within their church around these names.

They didn’t just follow the Way.

We might do the same.  We are traditional.  No, we’re contemporary.  We’re liturgical.  We follow that old-time religion.  We are King James Only.

This smacks of tribalism.  Tribes are fine.  We can belong to multiple tribes that can reach out to others and work together.  They are inclusive.  Tribalism is exclusive.  It says that you can’t just enjoy good stories by reading DC and Marvel.  You can’t lock arms with those that love Paul and Apollos.

Let’s quit setting up this tribalism within our faith.  We have enough already.  Let’s seek after Christ.  If you like the King James, hallelujah. I hope you’re reading it.  If so, I’ll celebrate that with you while I read the one I like.

Let’s just pray that both of us are moving along the Way, the Truth and the Life.

 What tribes do you belong to ?  Have you ever been guilty of tribalism?

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  1. November 5, 2013 at 6:00 am

    I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this. I can’t say that I’m a Vols fan (sorry), but I have many other allegiances that define me.

    • November 5, 2013 at 6:18 am

      Jon, it’s ok. In your neck of the woods, I wouldn’t expect a lot of Vol fans.

  2. robshep
    November 5, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Wait! So you are saying King James isn’t the only inspired translation? I kid, I kid. I like Pepsi and Coke and often am treated like I’m a Cowboys and Redskins fan.

  3. November 5, 2013 at 6:21 am

    is there any other team than the Pirates? Or Ohio State? Be that as it may, and you are wrong in your choices of teams and music, I have been guilty of this. I belonged to the Christian Church/Church of Christ denomination and talk about tribalism! And I was chief. Glad I am not with either now.

    • November 6, 2013 at 5:44 am

      Maybe a few other teams, Bill. I imagine all of us have been guilty of tribalism.

  4. November 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    reminds me of a song from Derek web called “Don’t let them put a name on you”::

    oh my darlin’, you’ve must be a moving target just like me
    they’ll call you right, they’ll call you left
    they’ll call you names of all your friends

    you never know
    what you’ll have to do
    baby don’t let ‘em
    don’t let ‘em put a name on you

    there’s no categories just long stories waiting to be heard
    don’t be satisfied when someone sums you up with just one word

    blindfold your heart
    and feel for a clue
    baby don’t let ‘em
    don’t let ‘em put a name on you

    [Bridge]
    you say you wanna know the people I know
    you say you wanna come in and crack my code, uh huh
    catch me if you think you can
    but count on me for nothing man, uh huh
    it’s gonna take more than hearing you say the only words you think I know
    the truth may be with you today but may be gone tomorrow

    baby don’t let ‘em
    don’t let ‘em put a name on you

    • November 6, 2013 at 5:43 am

      I’m going to have to check that song out Arny.

  5. November 5, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    “Let’s seek after Christ.” I agree. Too much nitpicking most of the time.

    • November 6, 2013 at 5:41 am

      I’ve been guilty of it and may be again myself. It’s a challenge to myself as much as anything.

  6. November 6, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    The first week of Oct. the Yembi tribe (tribe as in living in the remote jungle) had the dedication for the New Testement translated in their heart language. When the missionaries went in to hold the service what they found was exactly what you wrote about. There were three elders and each one had their own following. They wanted to do three services for the dedication of the Bible. The missionaries had to take time to teach through what they had done. What started the three way split was gossip, by a women in the tribe. I know I say this a lot, but there is nothing new under the sun. We are still walking pride most of the time instead of walking in the Spirit no matter what tribe we come from. Great post brother

  7. JT Adamson
    November 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    I belong to the Dia Tribe. We give fiery speeches.

    It took me a while to settle on being in the Dia Tribe. Before that I had joined many other tribes, but always became discontented and left those tribes. I have a motto: If you cannot succeed, tribe, tribe again!

  8. November 7, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Tribalism seems to be the new thing but then again it was around in Paul’s day. Thanks for point that out Larry. I think people tend towards tribalism because it’s easier to follow a person that they can see feel and touch than Jesus who is more real than anything but for now we can’t see him.

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