Monte holding up and reading the book "Disunity in Christ" in a swimming pool.


Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland.

She writes to empower church folks to not bypass, but address and with through disunity in the goal of truly bring the Church. Her argument is based on the sociological observation that we spend massive cognitive energy trying to process the indignation we receive daily. This leads us to naturally categorize what we experience in hopes of conserving our mental resources. This leads to dividing judgments, assumptions and expectations. Naturally this leads us to a in group thinking and out group rejection: we base our identity around those we deem similar to us, thus easier cognitively to deal with. This leads to systemic and larger group think, and thus racism, classism, rejection of the different out of fear, ambiguity and confusion.

The only way to address and redress this is through intentionally challenging ourselves, and each other, to move beyond our in group identity in hope of realizing that others aren’t that different from us. It’s not at all a question of us versus them. She asserts that this is what atonement: the cross of Christ, is all about. Reconciling the different.

A great book for discussion and leading a class, reflecting on multiculturality, a church vision, or church history/time line. But she doesn’t go far enough with the theological praxis of sociological findings for my world. How do you reconcile divided Presbyterians (or others) over issues that are based on moral authority, such as sexuality and same sex marriage? It’s a situation that’s beyond us versus them, one in which categories of orthodox and heretic, Christian and false Christian are present, making unity in Christ impossible and even not wished for?