8 Books for Christians on Political Tribalism
Christians should be grieved and embarrassed by the division and polarization inside the American church. People who should be united in Jesus are divided by politics. Cultural values have replaced biblical values. Instead of loving their enemies, too many people who call themselves Christians prefer to demonize their perceived enemies.
How did we get to the point that one popular church growth strategy is to pledge allegiance to the Donkey or the Elephant instead of the Lamb? It turns out this isn’t a new problem.
Jesus lived in a divided, tribalized culture not much different than ours. Humans have always been prone to divide the world into “us” vs. “them.” Jesus is the solution to tribalism because he doesn’t only reconcile individuals to God but also to each other. He heals divisions and restores unity. Jesus’s tribe is unique because it is the only one everyone is invited to join even though no one deserves to be a part of it. Even more, those in his tribe are called to sacrifice and serve those who don’t belong to it.
If you belong to Jesus’s multiethnic, multinational, multilingual tribe, if you want to unify the church and restore its credibility, if you want to pledge allegiance to the Lamb, you should read about how the country (and the church) got into this mess and how we might get out of it.
Here are a few books I’ve found to be helpful on the topic, each of which will encourage and empower you to turn down the world’s offer of tribalism in exchange for the truth of his word.1. Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein
This New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller shows us that America’s political system isn’t broken. The truth is scarier: The system is working exactly as designed. In this well-researched and timely book, journalist Ezra Klein reveals how that system is polarizing us - and how we are polarizing it - with disastrous results.2. Divided We Fall by David French
Two decades into the 21st century, the U.S. is less united than at any time in our history since the Civil War. We are more diverse in our beliefs and culture than ever before. But red and blue states, secular and religious groups, liberal and conservative idealists, and Republican and Democratic representatives all have one thing in common: each believes their distinct cultures and liberties are being threatened by an escalating violent opposition.
This polarized tribalism, espoused by the loudest, angriest fringe extremists on both the left and the right, dismisses dialogue as appeasement; if left unchecked, it could very well lead to secession. In his book, David French takes a look at the true dimensions and dangers of this widening ideological gap, and what could happen if we don't take steps toward bridging it.3. Them by Ben Sasse
Something is wrong. We all know it. What’s causing all of the despair? In his book, author and U.S. senator, Ben Sasse, argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, our crisis isn’t really about politics. It’s that we’re so lonely we can’t see straight—and it bubbles out as anger. He argues that the path forward requires something radical: a rediscovery of real places and human-to-human relationships. Even as technology nudges us to become rootless, Sasse shows how only a recovery of rootedness can heal our lonely souls.4. Uncivil Agreement by Lilliana Mason
In her book, Lilliana Mason looks at the growing social gulf across racial, religious, and cultural lines, which have recently come to divide neatly between the two major political parties. She argues that group identifications have changed the way we think and feel about ourselves and our opponents. Even when Democrats and Republicans can agree on policy outcomes, they tend to view one another with distrust and to work for party victory over all else.
Bringing together theory from political science and social psychology, Uncivil Agreement clearly describes this increasingly "social" type of polarization in American politics and will add much to our understanding of contemporary politics.5. Not In It To Win It by Andy Stanley
Is it possible to disagree politically and love unconditionally? The reaction of evangelicals to political and cultural shifts in recent years revealed what they value most. Lurking beneath our Bible-laced rhetoric, faith claims, books, and sermons is a relentless drive to win! But the church is not here to win. By every human measure, our Savior lost. On purpose. With a purpose. And we are his body. We are not in it to win anything. We are in it for something else entirely. That something else is what Andy Stanley’s book is all about.6. How To Have Impossible Conversations by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay
In our current political climate, it seems impossible to have a reasonable conversation with anyone who has a different opinion. Heated debates often lead to insults and shaming, blocking any possibility of productive discourse. Everyone seems to be on a hair trigger.
In their book, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay will guide you through the straightforward, practical, conversational techniques necessary for every successful conversation - whether the issue is climate change, religious faith, gender identity, race, poverty, immigration, or gun control. This book is the manual everyone needs to foster a climate of civility, connection, and empathy.7. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
Drawing on his twenty-five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, Jonathan Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns. In this book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts.8. Truth Over Tribe by Patrick Miller and Keith Simon
Once you’ve read the above titles, consider checking out our book as well! In it, we explore the exhaustion that we all feel from tribalism. We examine the fractured families, friendships, and churches left behind in tribalism’s wake and offer you a roadmap for choosing truth and rejecting a political tribe.
If you're interested, you can learn more about Truth Over Tribe below.
Posted by Keith Simon