We’re Christians. How did we learn our way to a tribal mindset?

The discussion below is only a 5.8-minute read for the average readers (130 words per minute). In today’s start of the week, I am posting a 761-word exposition on how most Bible-based way of learning primed readers into a tribal way of thinking. 🤓 I will posit, that in order to break Scriptural tribalism, we have to go back to the basic of reading comprehension, acquire critical thinking skills, and commit to a joint journey of learning.

Supposedly, Bible-based communities of varying denominations refer to the same Bible regardless of translations. But, the interpretations couldn’t be so different when it comes to a variety of specific issues. Here are a few examples of questions that could quickly become polarized issues among Christian communities. What does loving everyone everywhere mean? Who is our neighbor? Can women serve as spiritual leaders of men? What does the Bible say about gender roles? How do we reconcile our civic duties with the core message of the Bible? Is politics really bad? What about having Biblical conversations on LGBTQ and gun-related issues? How are we to handle and reconcile our local citizenship to that of being citizens of the world and the Kingdom of Heaven?

Frankly, I find uncorrupted Bible reading easy for our young learners and skeptics if they’re allowed the full range to really read the Bible as a literary book that it is. Most problems I see in the handling of Bible studies is that it has become a persuasion-centric discussion rather than an unbiased look of the text. There’s no room for respectful cynicism, agnostic criticism, and scholarly discussions.

Much of the circulated materials that the Bible-Based teachers and preachers choose to use in their teaching and preaching underscore the incontestable detail that even when it’s assumed that all of the Scriptures are God-breathed in the basic sense that its stories were inspired by devotional divinity, it’s beyond a reasonable doubt that its authorship is definitely human. The conveyed lessons often nullify extrinsic historical and ethnographic realities. Either intentional or otherwise, the audience is primed to see the Bible as de facto God.

The thing is, the Bible had been redacted and translated many times over. Corresponding to being a conquered and exiled nation, the ancients, in order to preserve their history, based the redactions in the Old Testament on what was thought as important materials to pass down to the next generation. The New Testament redactions were a result of intentional selection by criteria of which stories were to be considered to complete the Messianic narrative of redemption. Let this sink in for a moment.

Unfortunately, most tend to follow passage readings as an isolated or stand-alone ideology rather than a unified literary reading of a book studied in it’s final and finished form. The ensuing effect is personalized glossing if not a display of convoluted tribal dispositions. The mode of learning is unwittingly enabled to bring you to the book but never the book to you. And however clever you deny it, the fact remains that although you may have flipped to every page, you never really got to the whole book in its final and finished form.

It’s like forever being put on a task by a high school literary teacher to take notations of a highly popular and supposedly life-changing novel. It’s an endless annotation of details and subjective perception of a page. You see shadows and allusions to the heart of the entire story, but you never got to the point where you actually read and learned the whole book.

To truly engage the text of the Bible and to veer away from the trappings of doctrinal, religious and tribal disputes, I posit that Bible-related and Bible-based discussions and studies across the board should follow a joint pedagogical journey of learning. Truth be known, we can’t get to the applied practice if we can’t adapt to the commonsense part of learning the basics. In discussing potentially polarizing topics, it’s not possible to engage in an impassioned exchange of opposing viewpoints and then expect objective and logical conversation when the parties aren’t committed to abiding by basic learning common grounds. It’s only by a genuine joint journey of learning that we can break tribal predispositions and infighting and then connect our gifts of individual differences.

Here’s a clearcut short version of the central message of the Bible. The Gospel is always offensive to those with religious and tribal mindsets. And always, the text tells you what it means. You only hear it if you involve in your individual and collective journey the process of acquiring and applying essential skills to reading and learning.

And believe me, the process of getting to a joint pedagogical journey of learning with others requires a paradigm shift. The process may take some getting used to and sometimes it can get messy since everyone wants what they want when and how they want it. It’ll take a while, but with diligent follow-through and patient practice, it can be done.

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