Us vs Them (preview)

Posted By vermonthills on Jan 31, 2020 | 0 comments

This Sunday (9:15 am) we begin The Church of Us vs. Them book study.

Below is the reading schedule and then a preview (with video) of the 7 conversations that might come out of it over the next 3 months (Feb/Mar/Apr).

Here is the reading plan:

The Church of Us vs. Them: BrainStorm Schedule

Feb 2               Introduction: Beyond Enemies?

Feb 9               1. The Strife among Us    15

Feb 16             2. The Enemy-Making Machine    25

Feb 23             3. Are You Biblical?    43

Mar 1              4. God’s Grand Drama: The Bible as the Space beyond Enemies    63

Mar 8              5. Have You Made a Decision?    85

Mar 15             6. Participating in His Reign: Conversion as the Space beyond Enemies    103

Mar 22            7. Let’s Make America Christian Again?    125

Mar 29            8. The Local Church Is My Politics: Church as the Space beyond Enemies    141

Apr 5               9. Beyond the Church of Us vs. Them    165

Apr 12             No Meeting Due To Easter

Apr 19             Appendix 1: The Fullness of Him Who Fills All in All: Rudiments of a Political Theology of Presence    173

Apr 26             Appendix 2: Tactics for Engagement: Opening Space among the Antagonisms    182

The plan is to pair the chapter in the book with a different book, school of thought, or historical movement. Some of these include The Argument Culture by Deborah Tannen, The Peaceable Kingdom by Stanley Hauerwas, and the Anabaptist tradition.

Here are the 7 conversations that will hopefully come up in the next 3 months:

  1. The church is supposed to be an alternative way of life – a prophetic and subversive witness to the world – that critiques the ways of the world and provides an alternative way of being in the world. She works best as a minority position within the larger culture and is not designed to be in charge or in control of culture.
  2. Neither the Republican or Democratic party can fix the problem of society. The Democrat and Republican parties are two sides of the same flawed coin. They are not the solution to the problem – they are manifestations of the problem.
  3. The church is not a middle way between these two camps (compromise) but it supposed to be a third way (alternative) to their ways. What we call ‘the church’ is so saturated with both Empire and consumerism that it is completely impotent to confront the ‘powers-that-be’ – which crucified the Prince of Peace (as a scapegoat) – and these powers continue to make life worse for most of humanity.
  4. The American ‘church’ is in bed with the systems of this world that reinforce racism, sexism, poverty, and militarism – 3 of those 4 things Martin Luther King Jr. called the ‘triplets of evil’.
  5. There is a way of living, which Jesus modeled for us and taught about, that leads out of the muck-and-mire we find ourselves in and opens up the hopes and potential of a different way of being in the world. That is the good news of the gospel (evangel).
  6. The church has the potential (capacity) to be the most beautiful and profound vehicle (venue) for unleashing human flourishing and peace. She does this by resisting evil, acting in love, and advocating for those who are vulnerable or on the margins.
  7. The kingdom (or kin-dom) of God is actually within reach but the church has compromised and been corrupted by being in alliance with Empire and the systems of this world. What we call ‘church’ is a shadow of what is supposed to be. Us vs. Them thinking is a symptom of that disease.

Here is a quick video (5 min) to introduce the topics:

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