The Church of Us vs. Them
Freedom from a Faith That Feeds on Making Enemies
- Pub. Date
- Jul 2019
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.
Introduction: Beyond Enemies?
1. The Strife among Us
2. The Enemy-Making Machine
3. Are You Biblical?
4. God's Grand Drama: The Bible as the Space beyond Enemies
5. Have You Made a Decision?
6. Participating in His Reign: Conversion as the Space beyond Enemies
7. Let's Make America Christian Again?
8. The Local Church Is My Politics: Church as the Space beyond Enemies
9. Beyond the Church of Us vs. Them
Appendix: The Fullness of Him Who Fills All in All: Rudiments of a Political Theology of Presence
"This is a book for our time. The sad reality of our churches and our individual lives is that we have participated in, as well as perpetuated, what David Fitch calls the 'enemy-making machine.' With penetrating analysis of our compromised social condition, Fitch offers a way to move beyond the hostile culture of 'othering' that has damaged our witness to Christ. I couldn't put this book down, which means you would do well to pick it up!"
Rich Villodas, lead pastor, New Life Fellowship, Queens, New York City
"David Fitch once again calls the church to a better way--that is, the ways that are reflective of the good news of the gospel. While the church continues to experience challenging times, it has been the practice of many to lean on enemy making, antagonisms, strife, and divisiveness. This is the book for such a time as this. As a 'prisoner of hope,' I long for the church to lean into a better, more loving, and more gracious imagination for what it means to be the church on mission. This book is deeply pastoral, prophetic, and winsome."
Tara Beth Leach, senior pastor of PazNaz; author of Emboldened
"We are undoubtedly living in precarious times--perhaps even deserving of being called The Uncivil Wars. It really is hard to find a time when we were so ideological, rancorous, and divided. Pre-World War II Europe comes to mind, and that did not end well. As Bonhoeffer discovered then, only a church that is willing to live radically aligned to Jesus will have anything to say to such a fractious world. This book does precisely that: it calls us to radical discipleship appropriate to the times. And I can't think of a better voice to address this scenario than David Fitch. Bravo, Dave!"
Alan Hirsch, author of numerous award-winning books on leadership, movements, and spirituality; founder of 5Q Collective, 100 Movements, and Forge International (alanhirsch.org)
"In this insightful and penetrating work, David Fitch demonstrates how the church has embraced the world's us-vs.-them 'enemy-making machine,' which conditions people to be suspicious if not angry toward those with whom they disagree. At the same time, Fitch casts a bold and beautiful vision of the church as a place 'beyond enemies,' a place where we explore with one another what possibilities the Spirit might be opening up as we debate controversial topics. Whether you are a conservative, moderate, or progressive Christian, you will find The Church of Us vs. Them to be as lucid, insightful, penetrating, and urgent a prophetic call to the church as anything you will ever encounter. This is a genuine eye-opening, game-changing work!"
Greg Boyd, cofounder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, Minnesota
"This is not a book where we are meant to come to agreement with the author on all things. Instead, Fitch invites us to the table, 'Us and Them,' to relearn the rules for a robust and congenial conversation. Here we discover that the vision must be eschatological--not a pronouncement of enemies on the outside but a recognition that the church has simply 'already' stepped into life in the kingdom and serves as an arbiter of peace. This is a profound and challenging word for all who are trying to navigate life as faithful followers of Jesus Christ."
Carla Sunberg, general superintendent, Church of the Nazarene
"The world is a divided, antagonistic place. Disjuncture and rupture are not merely by-products of our partisan and blinded social and political engagement; they are the fuel on which they run. The church all too often fumbles over itself playing culture's game by culture's rules and for culture's ends. Into this cultural cyclone, David Fitch--with deep insight into the Light from above and the darkness creeping from below--invites the church to reclaim its position as a spiritual director that can see, name, and resist the evil powers now at work in our world. The Church of Us vs. Them: Freedom from a Faith That Feeds on Making Enemies is just in time for a culture and country that may be running out of it."
Sean Isaac Palmer, author of Unarmed Empire: In Search of Beloved Community
Outreach 2020 Recommended Resource of the Year (Church)
"Fitch uses his well-honed skills as a theologian to address the divisions in America from a clear and biblical theological perspective."
"Fitch spends much of the book decrying the current state of divisiveness within American Christianity, and only in the final sections provides his ambitious yet simple solutions: Christians should reunite belief with practice, serve the poor and vulnerable, stay involved in local politics, practice forgiveness, and refuse to engage with antagonists on unloving terms. Fitch proposes a clear, compassionate political agenda for Christians that will appeal particularly to church groups looking to create a more open, welcoming dialogue around social issues."
"Over the course of his career, [Fitch] has combined excellent scholarship with the very practical concerns of everyday church life. . . . I see Fitch as an important voice because he's an evangelical-Anabaptist who sees this perspective as uniquely relevant for the church in a post-Christian context. Fitch is a careful student of the way that ideology and antagonisms function within human psychology. . . . Church leaders should pay attention to this book. Fitch is a perceptive voice who asks important questions. It is important for church leaders to model non-anxious leadership as they navigate an anxious and antagonistic culture. Fitch is a good guide for mapping this terrain."
Mennonite Brethren Herald
"A long overdue contribution to setting American Christians and the religion they profess back on track and in compliance with the commands and counsel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospels of the New Testament."
Willis M. Buhle,
Midwest Book Review