So many churches and Christian organizations have their shibboleths, those secondary unofficial “doctrines”, slogans, and mindsets which indicate who is and isn’t a full member of the tribe. On a regular basis I’ve observed these criteria which are assumed to be indicative of a True Christian™, one who holds to “proper” Christian thoughts:
Conservative politics and appropriate organizations (e.g., American Family Association, Eagle Forum, Heritage Foundation, et al)
Sufficient social justice activism & liberal politics.
Denial of anthropogenic climate change.
Enthusiasm for Capitalism; disdain for Socialism.
Contempt for evolution and billions of years.
Enthusiasm for David Barton’s view of Colonial American history and the Founding Fathers.
Being fans of “approved” authors & speakers: James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Chuck Swindoll.
One can usually attend (and perhaps even become a member) without passing every shibboleth test—but you probably won’t be allowed to take any sort of leadership or teaching position.
How can we best encourage churches and Christian organizations not to emphasize such shibboleths? Are we fighting something that is inherently tribal, such that we probably won’t be successful? Should we just allow people to congregate according to their individual tribes? Are church congregations more effective and peaceful when shared opinions make harmony easier? Or is diversity of thought (outside of fundamental Biblical doctrines) essential and to be encouraged?
I’m especially interested in instructive anecdotes about how you’ve seen this issue addressed in positive ways.