“It takes courage to stand up against your enemies. It takes more courage to stand up against your friends.”
Social context is huge. It does not need to be determinative. It does seem however to be determinative many times.
I have been in and among many churches and Christian organizations. One question I’ve asked which shows the power/influence of social cohesion is: Name one person who has raised an issue of concern about their respective church, school, etc. and was that person marginalized, fired, or promoted? I get lots of silence.
Sad reality and it is the kind of thing which made Niebuhr cynical about groups, including the church. But the church can and must do better. And I know several pastors who do, so I stay sane!
For years I attended a church that had as its unofficial motto: “We are like-minded Christians.” In practice that meant that one risked social suicide if one’s views on politics, tertiary issues of doctrine, history, science, child-rearing methods, etc. differed from the majority view. An atmosphere like that can be absolutely soul-killing.
It is always constructive and refreshing to reconsider the example of the early church where diversity of views, gifts and individual missions was looked upon as a way of building up the body rather than a sign of division.
Well put Dave. I agree with you wholeheartedly. How’s that for social cohesion?!