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After modernity, we are told, people crave community. Modernity disconnected us. We all need an us. But, after modernity, we have seen not just a revival of community but also a resurgence of tribalism. When us turns into us vs. them, serious danger lies ahead.

Religious communities divide when their sense of us grows weak or confused. That has happened with the Episcopal Church as its liberationist gospel has destroyed the denomination's once shared sense of identity. It is clearly time for alternative movements like the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, and most recently, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

A similar movement is afoot among Lutherans. Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal) is preparing to form a new Lutheran church as well as a network of like-minded churches that will remain inside the mainline Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Both the new Anglican and the new Lutheran movements need to nurture their brand-new us to keep it from degenerating into us vs. them.

Serious identity issues existed long before Episcopalians consecrated an openly gay bishop in 2003 and the ELCA Convention approved partnered gay clergy and accepted same-sex relationships in 2009.

In January 1986, I joined about 90 Episcopal leaders in Winter Park, Florida, to discuss our concern about the liberal direction our church was headed. These leaders came from different Episcopal streams—high-church Anglo-Catholics, low-church evangelicals, and peppy-church charismatics. Despite historically distinct senses of identity, we found a united sense of us in our commitment to God's revelation in Scripture and to the call for renewal and reformation in the church. An ...

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'It's Not About the Past'
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March 2010

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