Guest / Limited Access /

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 ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Past Imperfect
David Neff
David Neff was editor in chief of Christianity Today, where he worked from 1985 until his retirement in 2013. He is also the former editor in chief of Christian History magazine, and continues to explore the intersection of history and current events in his bimonthly column, "Past Imperfect." His earlier column, "Editor's Bookshelf," ran from 2002 to 2004 and paired Neff's reviews of thought-provoking books and interviews with the authors.
Previous Past Imperfect Columns:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Born Again … Again
In my ministry of racial reconciliation, I had to move from a culture of effort to a culture of grace.
RecommendedMormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
Mormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
What should we make of claims that the two faiths are on a path to reconciling?
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickWhy the Whole Church Needs Psalm 137, Violent Imagery and All
Why the Whole Church Needs Psalm 137, Violent Imagery and All
A protest song for Syrian refugees and suburban soccer moms.
Christianity Today
'It's Not About the Past'
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.