[ EPUB ] ✰ The Church of Us vs. Them Author David E. Fitch – Terrapin-info.co.uk

The Church of Us vs. Them We Are Living In Angry Times No Matter Where We Go, What We Watch, Or How We Communicate, Our Culture Is Rife With Conflict Unfortunately, Christians Appear To Be Caught Up In The Same Animosity As The Culture At Large We Are Perceived As Angry, Judgmental, And Defensive, Fighting Among Ourselves In Various Media While The World Looks On How Have We Failed To Be A People Of Reconciliation And Renewal In The Face Of Such Tumult Claiming That The Church Has Lost Itself In The Grip Of An Antagonistic Culture, David Fitch Takes A Close Look At What Drives The Vitriol In Our Congregations He Traces The Enemy Making Patterns In Church History And Diagnoses The Divisiveness That Marks The Contemporary Evangelical Church Fitch Shows A Way For The Church To Be True To Itself, Unwinding The Antagonisms Of Our Day And Making Space For Christ S Reconciling Presence In Our Day To Day Lives He Offers New Patterns And Practices That Move The Church Beyond Making Enemies To Being The Presence Of Christ In The World, Helping Us Free Ourselves From A Faith That Feeds On Division

  • Hardcover
  • 224 pages
  • The Church of Us vs. Them
  • David E. Fitch
  • 24 May 2019
  • 9781587434143

About the Author: David E. Fitch

David Fitch is B R Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary Chicago, IL He s married to Rae Ann and they have one child, a son Max He s pastored and participated in many church plants including Life on the Vine Christian Community a missional church in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Most recently he and his family have joined Peace

10 thoughts on “The Church of Us vs. Them

  1. says:

    Wonderful way of weaving together Missional ecclesiology church for the world , political public theology church s way of being in the world , theology God s omnipresence in the world and intensified presence in the church , social and historical analysis of the American church narrative of different antagonisms that have shaped the American church today , and on the ground advice for how to move beyond antagonisms to creatively disrupt antagonisms, reveal enemies while responding with questions, curiosity, and different space opening ways that have potential to invite others into participation in the new creation Similar in ethos to other Missional literature, but its uniquely concise and deliberate pacing combined with a patience that reflects what Fitch is advising make it a good read to recommend We must learn the way of Jesus and this book can perhaps be a help in that for illuminating specific ways in our times Excited to share this with others in my immediate sphere.

  2. says:

    How many Americans would say the church is for them rather than against them Why is the church better known for its hates rather than its loves In David Fitch s timely new book, the church of us vs them Freedom from a Faith That Feeds on Making Enemies, he identifies the fodder that fuels the church s againstness, and gathers kindling for a blaze of love toward both those inside the church and out.Fitch begins with a mercifully short survey of the need for the book Anyone not aware of the polarization both within the church and in our culture has either been off the grid in Montana for the last 40 years or has Comcast for a service provider In chapter two, Fitch surveys the parts in Christianity of what he calls the enemy making machine One element banners are those beliefs that may have little real effect on our daily lives, but function as a way of separating us from them Another element is the human tendency to create enemies as a way of simplifying the world and as a way to feel superior to others.Fitch looks at church history and theology to show how these elements have animated the hostility both within the ranks of the church and towards outsiders One example is the Protestant emphasis on praying the prayer the prayer of conversion The prayer marks a person as one of us, regardless of life change and real conviction It separates Christians from anyone who has never said the prayer whether they are Christians who see conversion as a gradual process or non Christians who may be moving toward faith.Throughout the book, Fitch traces the life of a Christian named Justin who goes from a black and white, staunchly boundaried version of Christianity to a delight in God s work in the world, and a curiosity as to how to participate with God This re narration of what Christianity is far robust that what I can describe here , is one of the best gifts of the book.Fitch ends the book with a vision of how God intends the church to model a new way of human relationships Rather than identities based on who we are against, the church is a reconciled body animated by love and our passion for God s in breaking, unifying reality Along with scripture, Fitch envisions an extremely happy ending for the world The wisdom in this book will help all of us join in God s good work toward that joyful end Disclosure I was given an advance copy of the book to review but no financial compensation The review above is my honest opinion.

  3. says:

    In The Church of Us vs Them, David Fitch dares to give the church an imagination beyond manufacturing enemy making machines toward making room for the presence of God and inviting others into this space beyond enemies This book is simultaneously timely and timeless Timely given our current divisive and tension filled times with competing ideologies and subsequent arguments Yet, it is timeless in that for as long as there has been humanity and our discord, God has desired to be present with us and see us create a space for his presence to be extended to others This book is well worth your time and is helping our church to clearly communicate a way forward in the mission of God.

  4. says:

    We live at a moment in time where even the church is divided into two camps You are with us or you are against us If you aren t with us, then you must be evil We have become adept at creating banners around which we can rally against our enemies We talk over each other, but rarely with each other It is dividing congregations, denominations, as well as families I understand the importance of standing up for what is right and what is true, and that moderation is often a path to the status quo, not the common good.So, is there a pathway that might take us to a different place, not a place of compromise where injustice continues to maintain its dominance, but a pathway to a true common good as revealed in the person of Jesus that leads to a church that moves beyond us vs them This is the point of David Fitch s latest book, titled The Church of Us vs Them In this book, which is directed primarily at the evangelical community of which he is a part, Fitch invites us to look at the issues and causes that divide He asks us to consider ways of moving beyond our causes to a different way of being church Fitch, who is a pastor and a professor, recognizes that one of the causes of our current problems is the church s loss of power that has come with the demise of Christendom Coupled with that loss of power is our tendency of living with Christendom habits We express these habits in the way we talk we use Christian jargon and expect everyone to understand the meaning We assume everyone should want to come to church, and don t come because they ve not found the right one We expect everyone to respect Christian leaders That is, we expect everyone to live as if nothing has changed since the end of the 1950s Since things have changed we get angry, and we make enemies We get defensive and demand respect for our way of doing things Such is not the case, so it s time to try something different That means leaving behind Christendom But it also involves recognizing the challenges that come when we try to align ourselves with the powers that be, like political parties We seem to know that things are not as they should be We understand that anger, strife, and hatred are a problem We just can t seem to get off the train To get there we ll first need to name the problems and then figure out a way to respond, which will be different from the one we made use of in prior decades when Christendom reigned The purpose of the book, according to Fitch, is to move beyond enemy making He sees the church as a space that can be beyond enemies, but that will require major changes to the way we engage the world That is increasingly difficult in the Age of Trump The polarization isn t new, but it has become magnified since the 2016 election The book is composed of nine chapters The first chapter names the strife among us He calls on us to examine our context From there we move to the Enemy Making Machine This is a conversation about banners that we rally around Banners galvanize the people around a cause, and here s the rub It s always easier to gather a group around what we re against, because it gets people angry p 33 Having introduced the issue of enemy making, he introduces our debates over the Bible While Fitch has signed a statement of faith affirming inerrancy of the Bible, he speaks here of the Banner of the Inerrant Bible As an alumnus of an institution that was attacked during the battle for the Bible, I understand the issue pretty well He is correct that the idea of an inerrant bible is banner than reality we don t have access to the autographs, which are supposed to be inerrant Thus the question is really one of how we read Scripture The chapter on the question of whether one is biblical is followed by a chapter in which Fitch lays out his understanding of the Bible, which he describes as God s Grand Drama It is the space beyond enemies Rather than getting up in defending the Bible, he invites us to consider the broad drama that is the Bible, a drama that moves us beyond enemy making Then we move to the question of making a decision, the first of two chapters that deal with questions of salvation and conversion, again moving us beyond enemy making The point of conversion here is participating in the reign of God Here is where life choices come into play It s not just about getting into heaven, it is about being transformed by one s encounter with God These conversations provide the foundation for dealing with the question of making America Christian again Is this not why so many white evangelicals supported Donald Trump He promised to give them power, so the nation could become Christian again Of course, the question is, was American ever Christian And is this a goal to be pursued In other words, is the idea of the Christian nation simply another banner around which to rally the troops In the end, it has nothing to do with being Christian What we need is, he suggests, a new practice of engaging the world for God s justice, a new practice of being the church in the world beyond enemies p 139 Chapters eight and nine provide Fitch the opportunity to offer his vision of a way forward Chapter eight is titled The Local Church is My Politics I ve struggled with the idea of the church as our politics as it has seemed to me as an evasion of responsibility We create a community of witness, but it really doesn t demand much of us this is especially true of white churches, no matter their political theological alignments That is not his intention, as I read the book He sees the church as space wherein we work toward that vision of being a space beyond enemies The final chapter is a vision of the church that lives beyond our divisions Here the realm of God becomes visible within a community that seeks to overcome the divisions of our age, a church that has given up the attempt at recreating Christendom In other words, can we make space in the church for Jesus to inhabit There is an appendix in which Fitch seeks to develop the rudiments of a political theology of presence This is essentially a followup to the final chapter.While I may have my disagreements at points, and I expect we re not completely at the same place on every issue, the most likely area of disagreement might be regarding the place of LGBTQ folks in the church and society He seems to be welcoming, but I m not sure if he is affirming Part of this is due to my being in a different place than he is I have evangelical roots but I live within a mainline context My theology is likely to the left of his, but on the whole, however, the book spoke to me of a vision that is part of my own sense of calling So, I want to encourage people to read the book and consider how we can move beyond the banners of enemy making, to a vision of the common good.

  5. says:

    Summary Discusses the roots of a church of us versus them and proposes a vision of the church as a space beyond making enemies.Even though there are serious signs that American churches are experiencing significant losses of numbers and cultural influence, Christians are hanging onto habits of a posture of us versus them developed during a time of greater cultural ascendancy So contends pastor David E Fitch, who believes it is a matter of urgent concern that the church move to a space beyond us versus them to one that refuses to make enemies.Fitch explores the factors that contribute to enemy making He observes how distinctives of belief and behavior can develop a life of their own becoming the litmus test of who is one of us and who is one of them Eventually the distinctives can become banners, often devoid of the content that originally shaped them, but that defines the divide between friends and enemies Often, these divides both feed on fear and make us feel better about ourselves.Fitch explores three distinctive banners of evangelical faith One is the banner of the inerrant Bible and the idea of being a biblical Christian, language invoked for whatever position one wishes to uphold with a smattering of scripture This language is used in a way that exercises power over, and excludes people Fitch proposes instead that when we move to a space beyond making enemies, the Bible is the story of the Grand Drama of God We do not use the Bible to win arguments and fight for a position but to hear and extend an invitation for all to enter into that Great Drama We do not assume we possess inerrant truth but continue to listen humbly to each other as we search the text of scripture to understand our part in the drama.The second distinctive banner is that of the decision Perhaps nothing better defines who is in and who is out than the decision for Christ Sadly, so many of those who wave this banner fail to go on to a life of vibrant discipleship following Jesus, and often have no difficulty justifying the compatibility of immoral behavior with being saved because they have made the decision Instead Fitch argues for a vision of conversion beyond us versus them, as participation over a lifetime in a faithful life of repentance and surrender to Christ, characterized both by forgiveness and personal holiness, and a commitment to extending Christ s healing and salvation into every aspect of the world s need While such a conversion doesn t make enemies in its invitation to all to follow Christ, it exposes those who make themselves the enemies of Christ by refusing his gracious rule.The third banner is the church that seeks to make America Christian again and seeks to do so aligned with the politics of the right Jerry Falwell or the left Jim Wallis Instead, he contends for the church as its own political structure, a demonstration plot of the Kingdom Fitch writes All this means that the difference between Christians and the world is not a spatial one, it s an eschatological one It s not an us vs them difference It s a matter of timing There are not two spaces the space of the ones who are in and the ones who are out Rather, the church is already where the world is heading the world just doesn t know it yet We are living in the kingdom ahead of time We are the first fruits of a harvest that shall be fully gathered in the future We are against no one Despite appearances, the world is not our enemy We are just ahead of them The church is the space beyond enemies, the church beyond us vs them.He closes by talking about the way Jesus addressed controversy by confounding the enemy making tendency of people, supremely demonstrated with the woman caught in adultery Jesus responds in silence, writing in the sand, and then bids those without sin to go ahead and stone her He refuses to condemn her and restores her while extending the true sense of the law into her life as he pronounces her both forgiven and urges her to no longer choose sin in her life He then asks if we will be the presence of Jesus in the world in how we engage the Bible, how we practice conversion and mission, and how we live as the church in the world.I m not sure if Fitch explains to my satisfaction why we feel so compelled to make enemies, which is not merely a Christian but rather a human behavior What he does do well is explain the dynamics of how this has worked itself out among evangelical Christians He also offers a compelling vision of a space beyond us versus them, not a space of compromise, but something different altogether, caught up in God s Grand Drama I suspect there are some still enad of fighting battles against them and seeing the world in terms of friends and enemies and we can never be quite sure of our friends But I also suspect that there others who are tired of othering both inside and outside the church They want to choose love rather than fear the open arms of embrace rather than the closed fists of a fight For these, Fitch offers a vision of the church as a place where that can begin to happen.________________________________Disclosure of Material Connection Thanks, Brazos Press, for the chance to read an advanced reading copy of this forthcoming book I was not required to write a positive review The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  6. says:

    This is some of David Fitch s best writing, and as far as I have seen, one of the best explicitly Christian responses to our antagonistic and deeply divided cultural moment.Fitch wisely leverages some key insights of cultural theorists, particularly the notions of master signifier which he labels banner and enjoyment I find it incredibly refreshing to see a sophisticated theological voice glean these helpful concepts from writers like Zizek and apply them to our current situation After defining these concepts in an approachable way, Fitch turns to 3 key examples of ways in which the American church has latched onto important ideas practices, but has turned them into empty banners, ways of invoking perverse enjoyment, and ultimately, fed into the broader enemy making machine of American culture These 3 examples are the Bible, conversion, and of course, politics.Fitch does wonderful work articulating how the American church has allowed each of these 3 areas to become co opted by the enemy making machine at work in our broader culture He persuasively argues that each of them has become an empty banner that gets waved around in damaging cultural conflicts, but doesn t result in on the ground life change Personally, he writes about concepts like inerrancy and conversion that speak directly to my own felt experience, as someone in highly evangelistic vocational ministry I found it deeply encouraging, validating, even while also a bit convicting.Overall, I love how Fitch operates from an Anabaptist theological ecclesiological framework, but one that is not removed from culture and history This book is replete with footnotes that engage thinkers as broad as AW Tozer, James Cone, Ruth Padilla Deborst, and Slavoj Zizek The result is a book that shows depth of thinking and sensitivity to our cultural moment, but is accessible and challenging throughout I was sent an electronic advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  7. says:

    Fitch s book certainly lands on the scene at a providential moment As many Christians watch the downfall of or are disillusioned by churches built on self assured leaders who offered clear, definite lines regarding biblical interpretation, morality, practice, and witness, we re left asking the question, So how ARE we supposed to function in the world Fitch addresses this, not by providing a different comprehensive answer, but by asking us to reexamine our underlying assumptions about Christ s Kingdom and it s practice His overall assertion is that we can maintain fidelity to genuine gospel truth while being able to charitably discuss those issues where there is space for differing approaches The strength of the book lies primarily in the examples from his own personal and pastoral experience that give a concrete way of envisioning a different paradigm for approaching missions, discipleship, conversation, and social cultural engagement While, personally, I would have appreciated the inclusion of additional examples, I found the book helpful for asking questions regarding my own life and approach to faith conversations Overall, a refreshing and thought provoking book.

  8. says:

    This is no Let s all just get along book Fitch s call to move beyond enemy making into opening up space for God to work requires sacrifice, he says, and a reimagining of how we interact with Scripture, of what conversion fully entails, of how to be the church in the world The book requires an attention to the process Fitch is laying out I think, for me at least, the book will require an immediate second reading to fully grasp how my thinking and posture need to change.The book explains how slogans and banners are vital to the enemy making machine It extracts the enemy from relationship and makes them into an object around which we gather fear and loathing And so slogans and banners must be laid down at the cross of Jesus.Instead, can we move out into the world, listening, being present in another s pain, suffering, and guilt and, as Fitch says, when the time is right, proclaim I believe God is working in you to ______________ Can you see this too This sounds like a hopeful way forward And provides the footpath.

  9. says:

    In an age of opposition, power struggles, and divisiveness, what hope does the church have to offer if it embodies the same posture and witness In his unique and prophetic voice, David Fitch deeply explores the overt and subtle world of antagonisms, especially in how they have infiltrated the character and practices of the church, and calls out for spaces in which God s presence and grace can redeem and restore Especially when Christians have been less known for their love and for what they are against, this book paints a portrait of how we can reclaim a posture of humility, graciously expose the enemy making machine, tear down banners of hostility, and truly embody a presence of living beyond us vs them.Incredibly grateful for David Fitch and his contributions into this much needed conversation that point us to live in spaces for God s presence to be experienced and to work in transformative ways.

  10. says:

    A very readable introduction to living Christ s reconciliation in the midst of a divided world Dr Fitch offers a challenging assessment of the divisions that energize the church, both internally and externally, and how, through Christ, the church can begin to overcome the enemy making machine offering a new way of operating without enemies in a divided world Each chapter assesses a division and presents a resolution that focuses on how the presence of Christ is discerned in the midst of a polarized society It is a hopeful book for our divided time and I am grateful for the opportunity to read this as a pastor.

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